Many of you watching last night’s NASCAR race may have experienced a bit of deja vu as you watched a pit crew pull out a massive powered cutoff wheel and starting hacking their Toyota to pieces. But unlike the last time it happened, it’s totally within the rules this time.
At least for now. Here’s the saw in action last night:
Two years ago, NASCAR fans went nuts for Martin Truex Jr.’s pit crew after they were caught on camera taking a giant gas-powered cutoff wheel to the No. 78 Toyota’s body:
That turned out to be against NASCAR rules, it was later determined, and the gas-powered mega-saw had to go away. But last night it returned, now completely electric, and according to the rules, that’s totally fine.
Here’s how the rules were specifically clarified to ban the gas-powered saw back in 2018, from NBC Sports:
NASCAR announced Wednesday that it was mandating teams “only use traditional battery-powered equipment to repair a vehicle on the service side of the pit wall,” including “reciprocating saws, rivet guns, screw guns and drills.”
So, while many think the saw was banned for being obviously egregious in its likely ability to simply hack off problematic parts of a car, perhaps to an unfair advantage, that’s not actually the issue, according to NASCAR’s rules. That part is totally fine, as long as it’s electric. At least for now.
Here’s the kicker, though. The car that had a saw taken to its bumpers, possibly to clear damaged parts, or possibly to increase cooling to an area like the wheel-well, was the No. 19 car driven by Martin Truex Jr. again, with the same old pit crew as before, which—and you’ll never believe this—won the race last night.
Update: Jalopnik contributor Bozi Tatarevic further clarified that the No. 19 car’s former crew chief Cole Pearn also tweeted his belief that the electric saw is legal, despite the previous gas saw ban:
Update: 2:00 p.m.: A NASCAR spokesperson confirmed to Jalopnik that the electric saw is allowed under the current rules, and that its use in cutting of a potentially damaging broken piece of the car is likely to disrupt the aerodynamics of the car enough to offset any possible benefit.
The car did pass a post-race inspection before it was announced the official winner of the race.
But hey, everybody else could have their own giant electric saw, if they were as smart as these guys.