News & Media

NASCAR finds nose jobs unseemly

May 04, 2012, Mark Aumann,

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Inspectors discover unapproved upper-front bumper covers on two more cars

Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your place.

During the past two weekends, a total of eight cars have run afoul of Nationwide Series technical inspectors for unapproved upper-front bumper covers. After six teams were told to cut off their noses at Richmond, two cars from Penske Racing -- the No. 12 of Sam Hornish Jr. and the No. 22 of Brad Keselowski -- had similar issues Thursday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Series director Joe Balash said it's not just a matter of the noses not matching the templates.

"The noses and tails are submitted by the manufacturers and then approved by NASCAR for competition, based upon all the work we do originally up front with the program," Balash said. "That upper part is the manufacturer's identity on the front of the race car."

What's catching the eye of officials, according to Balash, is a key bend in the fender shape in front of the front wheels. It's obvious enough for the folks in tech to spot as soon as the cars are presented in line.

"Where the nose rolls over, right in front of the wheel, it comes straight back and then it flares out and comes back to a 90-degree angle," Balash said. "That angle is pretty important in that area.

"On some cars, there was material removed in that area so that the corner was rounded and in farther. On other cars, the hook before the angle was filled in with Bondo. So there was work done adding material and taking away material, based upon looking at the different cars."

Whether the modifications were made to improve aerodynamics or for other reasons, Balash doesn't care. The rule book is the rule book.

"We have a stock piece that has to maintain the stock shape and size," Balash said. "The rule book says that we use the submitted piece by the manufacturer as a comparison. And it does not meet the comparison test at all."

So is there a reason for a rash of impromptu nose repairs in the Nationwide garage? Balash isn't sure.

But he knows crew chiefs are very quick not only to try to stretch the rules to gain an advantage but also to look constantly at the competition to see what everybody else might be doing.

"I don't know if it's coincidence," Balash said. "Sometimes there are things that trend in the garage because teams are watching other teams to see if they can try something. I don't know if it just stacked up at that point.

"I don't know if they tried a little bit one week and a little bit more the next. All I know is when it got to the race track, it was clearly obvious on these cars that we had some issues."