So NASCAR has decided not to penalize neither race winner Martin Truex Jr. nor Jimmie Johnson for their cars failing post-race inspection at Chicagoland Speedway last Sunday. To be honest, it looks like the powers that be made the right decision.
If the 10-point penalty had been meted out, the offenders in question wouldn’t have been affected the same way. Martin Truex could be docked every point he has, but given the way the Chase rules work, all he needs for advancement is his win. Taking away the win for his violation would have been excessive in the view of most reasonable people. As for Johnson, it’s too early to tell how the loss of 10 points would have affected him. He could win at New Hampshire and render this discussion meaningless. On the other hand, without a win before the next round, those points could mean the difference between elimination and passing through.
Effectively, what NASCAR is saying is that the inspection failure of Truex’s winning car is not tantamount to using some magic fuel elixir or some other egregious measure. Fans of other drivers will scream “Cheat! Cheat!” because it wasn’t their driver. It must be remembered that the cars passed pre-race inspection, and that any number things can happen during the course of a 400 mile race that could knock a car outside of measurement tolerances. This looks from here like one of those “Big deal. Let’s move on” sort of deals.
Here’s where NASCAR missed it: if failing a post-race laser inspection is truly worthy of a point taking penalty, then you truly do have to vacate the effect of the win, or flat take the win. The fact officials didn’t tells you all you need to know about whether not such a failure was really a big deal.
So- why have the rule? That’s my question.
Or perhaps the question should be, why place that much value on winning- such as it does it the current Chase format- so that you create the mess around the race winner that happened.
You know what this reminds me of? It reminds me of those lame-brained “zero tolerance” policies at schools, where students get busted for carrying a plastic knife in their lunch, or taking an aspirin without some kind of approval. You can be sure if you create a rule or policy, it will be put to the test.
NASCAR knows it. Scott Miller as much as said so when he said “This one’s on us.”
This kind of stuff could really make you angry, or just cause you to shake your head in half-amused resignation.