NASCAR: Recent Penalties Were Simply Ridiculous – Beyond the Flag

Did NASCAR go too far this time?

USA Today Sports

USA Today Sports

That’s what it looks like, as NASCAR officials announced that the teams of Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth will be docked 15 minutes of practice time next week at Darlington for failing multiple pre-race inspections and being late to the inspection line.

While Busch and Kenseth received the brunt of the punishment from NASCAR officials; Timmy Hill, Alex Bowman, Cole Whitt, Matt DiBenedetto, Landon Cassell, Joey Logano, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin all received warnings from NASCAR for failing pre-race inspection and for being late to the inspection line.

The problem here, is that the punishment that  NASCAR gave the teams of Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth don’t fit the crime. For example, why is NASCAR taking away track time from Busch and Kenseth when it was their respective teams that failed inspection multiple times last week at Bristol? If anything, this penalty punishes Busch and Kenseth more than it does their teams especially when you consider that Busch is fighting to stay in the top-30 in points right now.

This probably won’t be a major problem for Busch and Kesneth next week at Darlington, but it will put both drivers at a disadvantage heading into that race. One of these disadvantages is that Busch and Kenseth will have less time to get their cars ready for qualifying and will most likely start Sunday’s race towards the back of the pack.

This might not sound like a big deal considering how Busch has been able to come from the back of the pack numerous time in 2015 but it’s still not needed. This doesn’t mean that these teams don’t deserve some kind of penalty for failing multiple inspections, it just means that the drivers shouldn’t have been given the brunt of the penalty for things that were completely out of their control.

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Some fans might disagree with this, but the best way to handle penalties like this is to hit the teams where it really hurts, their bank accounts. NASCAR should have fined these teams for failing and being late to inspection. That would have not only been a fair and just punishment for the teams, but it also would have taken the unjust punishment off of the drivers that are trying to secure a Chase spot this season.

Not all plans are perfect though and this one is no exception. Of course the fine rule should either be reduced or eliminated in the case that NASCAR is dealing with a smaller team. Not doing so would hurt low funded teams and force them to pay money that they may not even have.

While NASCAR did make a huge statement this week about cheating and wasting their time in the inspection line, they made the statement to the wrong people and punished them unfairly. I know Busch and Kenseth will be able to recover next week at Darlington, but what if this penalty happened to a driver that was outside of the Chase bubble?

Would NASCAR feel justified in practically ruining their season?

Hopefully the answer to that question is no and they will rework the penalty rules after this season ends. In the meantime, let’s just all hope that these kind of penalties aren’t handed out during the Chase, where they could be a lot more costly to the 16 drivers competing for The Sprint Cup Series championship.


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