NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya, who led virtually the entire race this weekend at the Brickyard, was penalized for speeding on his final pit stop.
The speed limit in the pits is 55 mph, but NASCAR gives drivers a 4.99-mph cushion. Hit 60 mph, and a penalty is imposed.
Montoya was clocked at 60.06 mph in the second segment of the eight-segment pit road sequence and 60.11 in the fourth. Apparently, he was very close to exceeding the speed limit a couple of other times and was over 59 in most other zones.
There’s no human element to the speed monitoring at the race. It’s a simple computation of the time it takes for the vehicles in the pit to travel certain known distances. A transponder records the time and does the mph calculations.
Clocks are a pretty reliable technology, but that didn’t stop Montoya from sounding like many people who are issued more traditional speeding tickets. Understandably upset, his quotes:
“We had this in the bag and they screwed us,” he told his crew. “I wasn’t speeding. I swear on my wife and children.”
“It’s an absolute rip-off. (NASCAR chairman) Mike Helton is listening to this, you better double check what happened because I got robbed. . . . Thank you, NASCAR, for screwing my day.”
He mentioned “screwed” twice. The penalty dropped him from first place and $448,001 in prize money to 12th place and $224,048 in prize money. Thus, a $223,953 penalty for speeding 60 in a 50 zone.
In case you are interested in how common this is, so far this season, 74 speeding penalties have been called by NASCAR.
In a race with an average speed of just under 146 mph, Montoya’s downfall was doing 60.11 mph.