One of the biggest storylines of the season revolved around the Laser Inspection Station that measures the boy of the car to an extremely precise degree. After several races, multiple drivers failed the LIS, including in the Chase when Martin Truex, Jr. failed after his win at Chicagoland Speedway.
The degree of failure was a hot topic of conversation throughout the season as well. When Truex failed the inspection at Chicago by 0.030ths of an inch, some fans acted like he was running nitrous oxide. NASCAR adjusted their penalties for the inspection and eventually let anything slide that didn’t stretch into egregious territory and the inspection talk faded in the final weeks of the Chase.
1. Lug nut issues
Not sure what it says when the biggest controversies around NASCAR mainly happened off track in 2016 but that’s the reality we live in.
In 2015, NASCAR stopped fully enforcing teams to have all five lug nuts tightly secured on each wheel. As Tony Stewart returned from his back surgery in early 2016, he raised issue with the fact that NASCAR was risking driver safety by allowing teams to implement this practice.
Within a week, NASCAR responded to Stewart’s concerns and sent a memo to teams requiring the ‘safe and secure’ installation of all five lug nuts on each tire. They also adjusted the penalty for loose or missing lug nuts heading into the Chase.
The penalty ended up costing Elliott Sadler as he competed for a championship in the XFINITY Series. At Phoenix, Sadler’s car had two loose lug nuts that led to the suspension of his crew chief, Kevin Meendering, and a large fine for the team.
Fortunately, lug nuts weren’t a true deciding factor in the outcome of a race in 2016, but they definitely served as a weekly storyline throughout the entire season from the point Stewart brought up the concern through the final weeks of the Chase.
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