NASCAR: Crew member suspended four races
CHARLOTTE ó The crew member who chased a tire across pit road, forcing NASCAR to throw a race-changing caution at Atlanta Motor Speedway, was suspended four races Tuesday.
Jimmy Watts, the gas man for Marcos Ambrose’s crew, was also placed on probation through the end of the year. Frank Kerr, the crew chief for the No. 47 Toyota, was also placed on probation because NASCAR deemed him responsible for the actions of the team.
Neither NASCAR or JTG Daughtery Racing, which owns Ambrose’s team, commented on the incident Tuesday night.
Watts chased a rolling tire across pit road and into the infield grass when it got away from Ambrose’s stall during a round of green-flag stops 67 laps into Sunday’s race. NASCAR called a caution, and the action put more than half the field at least one lap down.
NASCAR officials have indicated that because the tire came to a stop, they likely would have waited until the pit stops had cycled through to call the caution. But because Watts was dangerously close to the racing surface, where cars were passing by at nearly 200 mph, NASCAR had to throw the yellow flag.
Most drivers who fell a lap down never recovered, and there were just 12 cars on the lead lap when winner Kurt Busch crossed the finish line.
NASCAR suspended Watts under a rule that prohibits crew members from going onto the race track while cars are racing or while cars are running under yellow or red flags. He was also suspended for the remainder of the race.
“Maybe he’s new,” said Matt Kenseth, who came back from a lap down to finish 12th, the last car on the lead lap. “Maybe he hasn’t seen us drive, but we tend to wreck a lot. I wouldn’t want to be out in the middle of the grass.”
Watts, who works full-time as a firefighter for the Charlotte Fire Department, told NASCAR Scene after the race he was simply reacting when he chased the tire.
“I saw the tire going away and it was a reaction, the wrong one,” Watts told Scene. “It’s not the kind (of incident) I want to be part of.”