If NASCAR penalizes a winning driver for violating a rule, but that person still is listed atop the results sheet, were they really penalized? NASCAR on NBC analysts Jeff Burton and Dale Jarrett don’t think so.
Burton and Jarrett think it’s time for NASCAR to get rid of encumbered wins, but not because most people need a dictionary to understand what they are, according to NBC Sports. While discussing the the governing body’s response to Denny Hamlin’s recent penalty on NBC Sports’ “NASCAR America,” they both called for drivers who break rules to be disqualified from the race.
After losing 10 seconds by overshooting the pit road entrance during the Bojangles’ Southern 500, Hamlin stormed to victory at Darlington Raceway. On Wednesday, though, NASCAR announced that his car had a rear suspension violation, and stripped him of the points for the win, but the result itself will stand.
“It’s time to disqualify people. It’s time to say, ‘If you’re illegal, here’s the rules.’ Whether you like the rules or not, that’s not the question,” Burton said. “These are the rules as written. If you are found to break the rules, and it’s not a mistake, it 100 percent happened — and even if it is a mistake, you have to be responsible for them.”
In addition, Burton noted that the unusual penalty system hurts whoever the second-place finisher is, assuming they abided by the regulations. Given the new-for-2017 playoff bonus points system, winning drivers receive five points that they can carry with them through the playoffs, which go to nobody when a win is encumbered.
Jarrett suggested that NASCAR should change its inspection protocol, mandating that the winning car pass inspection before entering victory lane. What’s more, he thinks that, if it passes the initial inspection at the track but fails a secondary one at the NASCAR R&D Center, than teams should face a massive fine.
“Then if they want to take the cars back and find something wrong, then it’s a huge financial penalty — I’m talking hundreds of thousands of dollars — to put a stop to this,” Jarrett said.
The only fine associated with Hamlin’s Darlington sanction was a $50,000 penalty assessed to his crew chief, Mike Wheeler.
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images
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