NASCAR to review tire flap

Updated: March 10, 2009, 7:39 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NASCAR plans to discuss early this week whether to further punish the crew member who forced officials to call a caution that played a role in the outcome of Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Jimmy Watts of Marcos Ambrose's No. 47 team was suspended for the remainder of the race after chasing a tire into the infield grass after it got away from the team during a pit stop.

Any further penalty likely would be announced on Tuesday or Wednesday.

"NASCAR will discuss the possibility," an official said.

NASCAR was forced to call the caution on Lap 67 because Watts was in harm's way had a car spun out or lost control coming off Turn 4. The caution came in the middle of green flag pit stops, putting almost half the field a lap down.

Had Watts not chased after the tire, NASCAR likely would have waited for green flag stops to be completed before throwing the caution.

"I saw the tire going away and it was a reaction -- the wrong one," Watts told SceneDaily.com.

Watts' flap baffled some of the drivers.

"Maybe he's new," said Matt Kenseth, who rallied from a lap down to finish 12th. "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." Race winner Kurt Busch was among those who did not go a lap down. His crew chief, Pat Tryson, said he would have come off the top of his pit box had it been one of his crew members.

"We know better than that," he said. "I'm sure that person is going to learn."

Ambrose said after the race his team will look into the situation.

"We don't want to ruin anybody's race -- especially NASCAR's," he said. "We want to play by the rules and do everything right. If we did something wrong then we need to look at it and not do it again."

Crew members are subject to penalty for actions detrimental to stock car racing. In 2006, a member of Clint Bowyer's team was suspended for several weeks because he did not place racing fuel in the designated collection area.

Crew chief Gil Martin also was fined $2,500 because he was considered responsible for the crew member's action.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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