On February 17th (seems like ages ago doesn’t it?) the 48 car entered in the Daytona 500 field failed it’s initial race entry inspection because of illegal C-posts. The C-Posts were confiscated by NASCAR and the team was allowed to repair the 48 car and go back through inspection and then into practice. First thought is where the heck is the C-Post…well I found and stole this graphic from an old article on NASCAR.com:
Anyway- today NASCAR announced the “punishment” for the illegal parts. They were found to be in violation of three sections of the NASCAR rulebook*:
Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4J (any determination by NASCAR officials that race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20 of the rule book or has not been approved by NASCAR prior to the event); and 20-2.1E (if in the judgment of NASCAR officials, any part or component of the car not previously approved by NASCAR that has been installed or modified to enhance aerodynamic performance will not be permitted – unapproved car body modifications)
Chad Knaus, crew chief of the 48, was fined $100,000 and suspended for 6 weeks. Car chief of the 48, Ron Malec, was also suspended for 6 weeks. Jimmie Johnson was fined 25 driver points. Jeff Gordon was fined 25 owner points.
Wow…is it me or is that a little heavy handed? I posted a sentiment like that on my facebook and I guess it might just be me. But never the less I stand by my initial reaction that it’s a harsh penalty…too harsh. I have several reasons why I think the fines are a bit much:
- It’s my understanding that this particular car had been used several times last season. If that is the case- why did it not fail any of those numerous inspections? (Initial inspection, post qualifying inspection, post race inspection). I mean sure I suppose the car could have been completely changed during the off season- but really?
- NASCAR needs to be more consistant with it’s fines. What do I mean by this? Consider this- Clint Bowyer’s car failed post-qualifying inspection. Yet NASCAR did not offer any fines whatsoever there- not even a mention of possible fines the whole week between qualifying and race day. Yet as soon as the 48 failed inspection on Friday- it was news and talk of heavy fines floated around the team ALL week long. While the parts that failed inspection are apples and oranges- the end result is this- the cars were both non-standard and thus failed inspection. Yet one team was heavily penalized and the other was let go without even a slap on the wrist. This is unfair and unequal treatment between teams. NASCAR needs to decide whether or not they are going to be heavy handed rulebook thumpers or the nice “give a team the benefit of the doubt” kind of sanctioning body. It can’t be both.
- Since it was the initial inspection and the team never practiced or qualified with the offending parts on the car, I don’t think it should be fined at all. Technically the team gained nothing from the offending parts because they did not USE said parts- the car never touched track. They removed them and I assume that the car that Jimmie raced in the 500 this past Monday had no technical issues (with the exception of the big technical issue of being crashed in lap two). This, going back to the Clint Bowyer senario mentioned in 2, is really unfair because if there was something unstandard on Bowyer’s car he practiced and qualified the offending part- having gained some possible benefit from it.
Now I am sure some people will argue with “But Chad has done this before- remember when he was suspended and Darian Grubb took the helm as crew chief?” Yes, I have not forgotten this. My thought in this- Chad and the 48 team have already paid for those mistakes…Chad was removed and fined for those issues. That issue is closed. This is a separate issue. To that arguement doesn’t make any sense. It’s like a tardy student getting expelled instead of suspended this year because they had an unexcused absence and and an additional unexcused absence five years ago, that they already served a detention for five years ago.
So there you have my three reasons I think NASCAR was heavy handed with the fines. Misty, while agreeing with me in general that the NASCAR punishment is too harsh, also has some good albeit different points about the situation and I highly suggest that you read her post about it as well: The 48 Smackdown: Overkill.
* I want a rulebook. Just because.