by Virginia Vroom of Predictem.com
So this weeks hot topic is that of penalties. I want to take a minute to talk about NASCAR and how their penalty system works. Generally, penalties are issued for several reasons. The most common of those reasons include not passing a pre- or post-race inspection. Furthermore, there are penalties sometimes issued because of problems during a race, whether it be for pit crew error and a tire rolling out of control (similar to one of Carl Edwards problems last week) or for drivers needing to calm down after losing their tempers on the track with another driver (similar to the incident between Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch). When penalties are given, they are announced on Tuesday of every week so that NASCAR can get together all of its officials and make calls for actions before and after a race from the preceding weekend. If a penalty is announced and a driver or team does not agree, they have the opportunity to appeal the decision made by NASCAR in an effort to overturn the consequences given from the penalty.
That being said, this week was a good example of what happens during this entire process. The biggest story this week is that of Carl Edwards, which I will not completely detail here as there is another story with full details already posted for this week. Essentially, Edwards, his crew chief Bob Osborne, and his car owner Jack Roush all received hefty penalties stemming from a loose cap on an oil tank reservoir. This is a problem that was seen in several Nationwide series cars in Daytona. Because of this, I wouldnt be surprised to see Edwards appeal the decision made by NASCAR as Rusty Wallace did with his Nationwide car. The ruling was in Wallaces favor, so Edwards may be keener to the idea of an appeal, especially with such heavy penalties sanctioned by NASCAR these days.
You may remember a couple weeks back when penalties were issued against Robby Gordon for unapproved equipment on his car. The gist of the story is that members of Gordons crew used a bumper cover coming straight from the manufacturer that matched the templates provided by NASCAR. The problem was that the numbers from the bumper cover did not match the numbers of the approved part that NASCAR wants the teams to use. It was an innocent mistake, and several other drivers from the garage came to Gordons side understanding the mishap and knowing that it was not intentional. The penalties issued were severe, as severe as though given to Carl Edwards, and Gordon appealed the decision. Released today, Gordons appeal overturned the penalties issued by the National Stock Car Racing Commission except for the fine issued, which was increased. Both car owner and driver points were reissued, but crew chief Frank Kerr must endure an increased $150,000 penalty. The team sees this as a victory as they believe that their side was heard and understood by the Commission.
The penalties issued by NASCAR are called severe by many, but I have to revert back to the day when NASCAR made an announcement, two years ago, that penalties would be increasing because of the specificity that comes with the new car. The templates must match and drivers need to be responsible for themselves, how they drive, and the equipment that they use. In all honesty, I think that NASCAR does its best to impose penalties in a fair manner and in a way in which drivers get the message that cheating and inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated on or off the track. In the case of Robby Gordon and even with Edwards, innocent mistakes can be made, and those penalties can be reversed should drivers and teams take the appropriate actions; however, we must remember the element of responsibility that NASCAR is trying to instill. A fair playing ground is the goal. Penalties will always be there to level the field.