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The Seventh Man

Posted by Amy in General | NASCAR

It seems that everywhere I look everyone is in a rage about Matt Kenseth being parked after the wreck towards the end of the Hollywood Casinos 400 at Kansas last weekend.  There seems to be much confusion over WHY did they park him when NASCAR seems to look the other way when other drivers seem to regularly have seven men over the wall during a pitstop and not get penalized.

I am going to say right here and right now- I totally agree with NASCAR’s call. Does it suck for Matt Kenseth? Hell yes. I am not saying that it doesn’t. I am not saying that I don’t like Matt Kenseth. When they showed the crew working on Matt Kenseth’s car I said WAIT I THINK I SEE SEVEN MEN over the wall.  I said this BEFORE they mentioned it on the national broadcast, before they put up the graphic where they super imposed a number over each crew member. The seventh man- whomever he was actually called attention to himself because he hesitated, sat back down on the wall and then decided to go back towards the car.  This hesitation is what drew my eye to him in the first place. It’s like he knew he wasn’t suppose to be over the wall but he just couldn’t help himself.

The thing that most people don’t seem to be understanding is that Matt Kenseth wasn’t making a pit stop at this point. He was pulling into his pit to repair crash damage, thus putting him and his team on the 5 minute clock.  When the cars come in for crash damage the rules clearly state that only 6 men can be over the wall at any one time to assist in the repair of the vehicle or the car is automatically done for the day. Why? They explained it on the national broadcast…because without this rule the crew chiefs could send 10 people over the wall to help fix the car and gladly take the penalty. They even stated on the national broadcast that this was a rule that the OWNERS asked for- not NASCAR. That was something I didn’t know.

A regular six person pit stop performed by Brad Keselowski’s crew at Kansas Speedway. (photo source: 352494Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

During a regular pit stop six members are allowed over the wall to service the car and teams CAN have a seventh man who comes across the wall to service the DRIVER. What that means is that the seventh man is there to pull a tear off, give water or ice to the driver, etc.  This is during a pit stop NOT during the 5 minute crash damage clock.  The penalty for too many men over the wall is end of the longest line or a pass through (I think).  Even IF Matt Kenseth had been performing a regular pitstop and not on the crash damage clock they would have at the least seen a penalty. Why? Because the seventh man wasn’t servicing the driver with a sawsall in his hand- which video clearly shows.

I do not understand why this is unclear. Matt Kenseth wasn’t on a regular pit stop he was on the crash damage clock. The seventh man over the wall wasn’t there to service the driver he clearly had a sawsall in his hand and when he decided to go to the can he went right to the wheel well- not to pull a tear off or give the driver water.  Yes it totally ruined his play off hopes and yes that sucks but there is the rule there for a reason. There is a clear difference between being on a pit stop and being on the playoff clock. I am sure the person who ruined the playoff hopes for his driver feels terrible. This is not a new rule- it was quite clear by crew chief Jason Radcliffe’s comments he understood the rule.  Play-off’s require everyone to be on the top of their game- and one person who either wasn’t paying attention or just really thought he could slide past the rule made a mistake and at this point in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series play-off’s mistakes mean mean the difference between making a cut off and falling below the cut.

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