Lug nuts and loose wheels continue to be hot topics at RIR

Lug nuts and loose wheels continue to be the hot topics at Richmond International Raceway this weekend, as competitors are suggesting that changes are necessary in NASCAR rules.

Sprint Cup teams are no longer required to run all five lug nuts, or have them tight. Some teams now are using four lug nuts on one side of the car and just three on the other.

That has created a spate of loose wheels at races this year, with some drivers vocally speaking out about that being a safety issue.

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NASCAR fined Tony Stewart $35,000 Thursday afternoon after he criticized the sanctioning body in an interview with USA Today.

Thursday night, the nine-member NASCAR Sprint Cup Drivers Council agreed to pay Stewart's fine.

"I think it kind of shows a unity amongst us," said Denny Hamlin, one of the leaders of the Drivers Council. "It really has nothing to do with lug nuts or no lug nuts or anything like that, it's more so the drivers believing that they have a right to express their opinion especially when asked in an interview."

Friday morning at Richmond International Raceway, two NASCAR representatives declined comment on the situation.

But Stewart is far from alone in his concerns.

His Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch also addressed the topic Friday morning at RIR.

"I think it's a safety issue that we should look to address before there is a negative outcome with it," Busch said. "To me it makes sense to have five lug nuts. You want five of them tight. You go to your Goodyear Tire store and get your tires rotated they put on three lug nuts you are not going to feel so comfortable about that."

In an exclusive interview with, Hendrick Motorsports General Manager Doug Duchardt said the teams and the sanctioning body need to collaborate, as they have on other situations recently.

"We've done a lot of good work together -- NASCAR and the teams -- I feel like, in the past year, on a lot of difficult issues, whether it's the current aero package or getting efficiencies in the sport or other safety items that we're working on together," said Duchardt. "And this is no different."

And Duchardt said he is aware that drivers are raising the issue.

"I hear the drivers loud and clear and I understand their concern," Duchardt told "It's tough to sit in there with the (steering) wheel wobbling and feel good about all that."

One dissenting voice was last weekend's Bristol winner, Carl Edwards, who said he isn't concerned about loose wheels.

"If my engineers and my pit crew agrees that its good enough then I'm okay with it," Edwards said. "NASCAR can do what they need to do and I'm fine either way. In my experience, whatever they decide isn't going to affect me on the 19 team."