The No. 43 Petty GMS Motorsports team has provided the answer to a major question. They have revealed the reason why the pit crew could not remove Erik Jones’ right rear tire at Kansas Speedway.
Crew chief Dave Elenz actually provided the answer during a discussion with FOX Sports’ Larry McReynolds. He explained that the stuck tire was not due to a fault of NASCAR or the new, one-lug setup that has created many conversations throughout the 2022 Cup Series season. Instead, he said that it was a user error by a crew member.
“[Elenz] said, ‘On that two-tire stop on Lap 64, 65, our rear-tire changer, he revved the gun up before he engaged it on the lugnut,'” McReynolds explained during the May 16 episode of “NASCAR Race Hub.” “‘And that increased the RPM tightening the lugnut and over-tightened it.’ He said, ‘We thought he would loosen it up, but it never did and we could only run that right rear tire only so long.'”
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The Tire Issue Disrupted Jones’ Strong Run
The No. 43 team started the race at Kansas Speedway with a strong run. Jones was only 22nd on the grid, but he moved up into the top 10 before the end of Stage 1 and secured some crucial points.
The situation changed during Stage 2. Jones came down pit road for a scheduled stop, but the team could not get the right rear tire off of the No. 43. They spent a considerable amount of time struggling with the issue while trying a variety of air guns, saws, grinders, crowbars, and chisels.
The crew ultimately had to cut the wheel off of the No. 43 Chevrolet using a reciprocating saw so Jones could get back in the race. They sent him back on the track with a new tire, but he was several laps down and out of contention. He brought the No. 43 home in the 32nd position and fell back below the playoff cutline.
Jones Has Dealt With Recent Issues
The driver of the No. 43 has performed consistently during his second season with what is now Petty GMS Motorsports. He has finished inside of the top 10 four different times, and he has been within reach of a win during races at Auto Club Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.
The past two weeks, however, have featured unexpected issues. Jones ran inside the top 10 during all three stages of the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway, but a late incident collected him, Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, and Bubba Wallace. He finished 25th instead of contending for a top-10 finish, and then he dealt with tire issues at Kansas Speedway.
“It was a tough weekend. We had a pretty fast car,” Jones said during a May 17 appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “I felt like we had a top-10 car. I feel like we’ve been pretty close to the top 10 most weeks, and the last couple weeks, we got caught in that wreck at Darlington and then the lugnut issue this weekend.
“It’s just one of those times. You kind of go through those ebbs and flows in the sport in the year. We just need to get through it, have some good runs.”