HAMPTON, Ga. – Johnny Sauter, who originally finished 17th in Saturday’s Vet Tix/Camping World 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, was disqualified from the finishing order after one of his race tires failed an at-track inspection during the event.
Sauter’s No. 13 ThorSport Racing Ford F-150 was never a factor in the battle for the win, but his disqualification still carried a sting with it – as it dropped him to last in the 40-truck field.
NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series managing director Brad Moran joined the media on a teleconference Saturday evening to further discuss the infraction, which was covered under Section 20.16.2 of the NASCAR rulebook.
“From time to time, we impound tires during the race and do an inspection with them. Unfortunately, the 13 truck had an issue with one of the tires to where it did not pass that at-track inspection,” said Moran. “We do this in all three series, and this time it led to a violation.
“The rulebook says there can be no treatments or modifications at any time, and we had an issue with one of Sauter’s tires that led to the DQ.”
Moran went on to explain the process behind the inspection, something that was referred to as a “typical dunk-tank test.”
“We randomly chose one Ford, one Chevrolet and one Toyota team … all very close to one another on pit road, so that it makes it easy to manage the inspections and to have our officials get to all three sets fairly quickly,” Moran continued. “From there, we confiscate the tire sets and have an official stay with them. It was not a tip-off; it was one set of tires from all three OEMs, which happened during the race.
“We chose to do it during the last stage, when there’s a long green-flag run. That’s the set that we chose, when all three trucks came in (to pit road) close to the same time.”
As for what Moran was looking for or that officials saw that ultimately led to the DQ decision, he was slightly less specific, but alluded to air bleeding as a potential reason.
“I can’t get into all the details, obviously. The penalties are appeal-able,” Moran noted. “But we do put the tires into the dunk tank, and we are looking for certain things that could be letting air out (of the tires) in different ways. There’s many different methods for that.
“Unfortunately, we just found a tire that didn’t pass the test.”
Though Sauter was disqualified from the race Saturday, many speculated after the penalty was brought to light that he might face additional point deductions or fines due to the infraction.
Moran was quick to shut down those notions, noting that the disqualification was the only sanction Sauter and his team would receive for the tire violation.
“Since NASCAR changed the way that penalties are handled a little while back, it can be an L1 or an L2 penalty … where any of those penalties found at the track or during the race can end up being a disqualification,” Moran explained. “That’s what we chose to do in this case.
“With that said, there will be no further penalties for the (No.) 13 team.”