Few sports have as complicated a relationship with cheating as NASCAR does. It’s a sport built on bending the rules, with its roots in literal illegal activity, and one person’s “cheater” is another person’s “innovator.”
But it sounds like NASCAR’s brass has had enough.
After recent race winner Kevin Harvick was docked 40 points and had his automatic berth into the next round of the playoffs taken away as the result of a non-compliant spoiler, NASCAR senior vice president of competition Scott Miller essentially told teams to knock off the funny stuff.
“We’re looking at the whole deterrence model and trying to review that over the winter and possibly put more teeth in it,” Miller said, per AutoWeek. “I think we’re getting into borderline ridiculous territory.”
Meaning? Don’t be surprised if infractions in 2019 result in drivers being forced to forfeit victories.
NASCAR has tried a number of ways to deter the most egregious types of rule-breaking, mostly through fines, suspensions or forfeiture of points. The sport has shied away from taking away wins outright, to avoid creating confusion and frustration among fans who witness a driver win on Sunday, only to discover on Monday that he didn’t actually win.
Still, NASCAR recently has come up just short of declaring wins invalid. In addition to Harvick’s penalty, which could result in him being outside the championship four going into the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the governing body essentially took away a Joey Logano victory last year by declaring his Richmond win “encumbered” and thereby not automatically qualifying him for the playoffs.