The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series took the Father’s Day weekend off, giving me a chance to discuss a problem, (as I see it), in NASCAR.
When a driver wins a race and then fails post-race inspections, his win is deemed encumbered. That means the win does not count for the playoffs. The win and the playoff points do not count in the standings. The team is fined, the crew chief is suspended for several races, but the money and trophy are given to the penalized driver. Why doesn’t NASCAR just take away wins for failing post-race inspections?
The official line is that NASCAR doesn’t want fans to leave the track having seen a race winner, only to get home and find out they didn’t win after all. With today’s technology, if the winning car failed post-race tech, fans would know by the time they got home, possibly before they left the parking lot. Most fans are knowledgeable enough to understand what happened and accept the penalty.
There’s no reason to award a win to a car that’s not legal after a race in this day and age, and it’s high time NASCAR starts making sure the winner raced a car that’s within the rules.
Another problem area is that teams are failing pre-race inspections and missing qualifying. All that is done is that the offending team has to start at the back of the field. It’s called “qualifying” for a reason. Teams are trying to bend the rules and get an illegal car into the race. Well, it’s time for a little tough love. It’s a simple concept. If you can’t make a qualifying attempt for one reason or another, you don’t make the race.
These are the best teams with the best drivers in stock car racing, so why should it be so hard to bring a properly prepared car to the track? They’ve been going through the process for 15 weeks now, yet inevitably, each week someone is getting their crew chief booted and having to start at the tail end of the field. If all the teams are going to make the race no matter what, why not just draw names out of a hat for starting positions?
NASCAR seems to think that the teams owe it to their sponsors to be in the show. Perhaps the team owner should emphasize the importance of making sure the car is on the right side of the rulebook. That way, he doesn’t have to make a call to the company that rented out an entire suite to tell them they won’t have a car on track Sunday afternoon.
The current system isn’t really looking to punish the teams that overstep the boundaries. Instead, it’s catering to the organizations with the most money and the biggest fan draw, and it’s time to take a serious stand by toughening up its rules.