The Frontstretch: Fail On Friday, Race (Or Even Win) On Sunday? by Amy Henderson -- Thursday July 18, 2013

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Fail On Friday, Race (Or Even Win) On Sunday?

Holding A Pretty Wheel · Amy Henderson · Thursday July 18, 2013


Should a team who fails post-qualifying inspection race anyway if they have a provisional spot available? Absolutely not. Qualifying is a competition, and competing with a car that’s not within NASCAR’s rules and had no parts failure should not “earn” them a place in the field. One team racing, post-cheating because they’re locked in via provisional doesn’t sound right if another one, with a perfectly legal car goes home without the chance to race on Sunday. But right now, that could happen at any Sprint Cup race where more than 43 cars show up. Based on the current rules, a team with a car earmarked as illegal could race while one who passed every inspection, all weekend goes home instead. That’s just not fair play.

Chad Knaus was under scrutiny this weekend when the No. 48 car failed post-qualifying inspection. However, Johnson was still allowed to race, starting from the rear and posted a respectable sixth-place finish.

No team with a legal car should ever have to watch a race on TV while another team is in it after having their qualifying time thrown out for a rules violation. Not ever, especially when failing tech for some teams would send them packing because they aren’t in line for a provisional. That’s right; you could also have two cars with the exact same post-qualifying violation during the same race week, yet one could be sent home while the other races. That’s a huge double standard, and it needs to stop. The rule simply needs to be the same for every team across the board… and the only way to do that is to send every one whose car isn’t legal after qualifying home.

Now there are times, like this past weekend at Loudon, where only 43 cars come to play, but here’s the problem with letting a driver start at the tail end in that situation, as NASCAR did with Jimmie Johnson on Sunday. If one team is sent packing when the field is full and another gets to race because it’s not, that’s not consistent, and goodness knows that NASCAR needs to be more consistent with its application of the rules. If there are 45 cars entered and, say, Mike Bliss would go home if his time was tossed out… well, then, so should Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kyle Busch or Danica Patrick — any of the sport’s stars.

Yes, there would be a lot of angry fans under that scenario. That’s understandable, because many of them spend a great deal of time and money to see their favorites race. On the other hand, those disappointed people could be the best policing system the sport could ask for. The prospect of not being able to compete, and the fans it would have an effect on would be powerful incentive to ensure each team works to measure their car inside the rules.

Also, while those fans of a driver who had to leave early might be upset, what about the fans of those that didn’t break the rules? What about the fans of a driver who didn’t qualify for the race despite having a legal car? Do they count? This rule isn’t about playing favorites; it’s about the integrity of the sport overall, and sometimes to improve the entire process, one faction might be left unhappy. I suspect that the same fans complaining if their guy went home would be clamoring for another driver to miss the race if they didn’t like him. It’s just bigger than one driver or team.

Wait… what if something really does break, causing the car’s measurements to be outside of its standards? Teams should have the opportunity to show NASCAR the broken part in question, and race officials should carefully review it before making the call to throw out the qualifying time or to accept the broken part as the culprit, rather than any intent on the part of the team. Things do malfunction, and if someone can prove it’s an accident, not an intention they should be able to fix it and start the race. But if they can’t, they just shouldn’t be taking a spot away from another team.

Missing a race would be the ultimate penalty, and it’s a safe bet organizations would go out of their way to make sure a legal car completes the qualifying run in the future. When that happens, it only strengthens the integrity of the sport and ensures a more level playing field for every competitor. Fairness is what we’re after; in a year of controversial penalties, appeals, and final punishments it’s what the sport has struggled to achieve at times.

In the end, the only way to make sure that every team, no matter how large or small, is playing by the same rules and getting the same treatment is to take away any provisional “safety net” from a team whose car fails to meet NASCAR’s standards after qualifying. Sure, NASCAR could take points — but even if they took every one that team earned in a race, if someone with a legal car went home, the penalty wouldn’t make anything right. It’s really simple: no team whose car is legal should ever miss a race while one that didn’t qualify within spec makes the show. The only way to make a fair and equitable rule, across the board is to disqualify any team whose car doesn’t fit within the rules in post-qualifying inspection.

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MJR in Springfield, VA
07/19/2013 06:22 AM

NA$CAR makes (and breaks) rules to fit NA$CAR…and anyone else they really, really like. Sounds something like this in the school yard…. “…awe please, I’ll give you my moon pie and a dollar if you let me play with you……”

07/19/2013 07:49 AM

Breaking News….

There’s a guy on twitter who’s releasing the names of every race winner for the rest of the season. Claims he has the secret list from Nascar.

Carl D.
07/19/2013 07:56 AM

Amy I agree with 100 percent. My favorite driver is Brad Keselowski, but if his car fails post-race inspection, I’d be okay, even advocate, his being disqualified. If you’ll cheat to get into the race or to get a good starting spot, you’ll cheat during the race. Send them packing.

Carl D.
07/19/2013 08:52 AM

I meant to say “post-qualifying”, not “post-race”.

Proof-reeding are very importent.

Glen H.
07/19/2013 11:41 AM

I agree with you Amy; if a car fails post-qualifying inspection, send them home.

I’m also for disqualifying a car that fails post-race inspection. Unless the team can show a part failure; the car is DQed, no points, no money, no trophy.

07/19/2013 12:09 PM

And what should nascar do if a winning driver purposely runs his car into the wall and does damage…like say, after ‘dega? I mean, there’s nothing fishy about THAT is there? Just all in good fun you know? It’s not like the driver is trying to hide or cover up anything.

07/19/2013 12:20 PM

So….how many times has this happened in the past and it was no big deal til it happens to the 48…You go 48 haters!!!

07/19/2013 12:57 PM

I agree to a certain extent, but this will never happen. No way NASCAR will send home a top-tier team for failing post qualifying inspection if they can take a provisional. Using this week as an example, no way they tick off thousands of good paying 48 fans for a car that is 1mm too low in post-qualifying inspection.

No offense to the back marker cars that might get sent home, but very few or more likely no one pays $100+ a ticket to Mike Bliss, Michael McDowell or (insert start & parker here) in the Cup race.

I think having a time disallowed and having to start at the back with a poor pit stall is penalty enough. If there are illegal parts or the car fails post-race inspection then other penalties will and should follow.

07/19/2013 03:07 PM

If you have 44 cars he should go home..If you have 43 cars Race away & penaltys..Should’nt matter who it is..Fail post race (no part failure) DQ’ed NO NUTHIN

07/19/2013 08:41 PM

Amy, you’re right. But you’re dreaming if you think the owner doesn’t matter to NA$CAR.

07/20/2013 04:20 PM

So if a top-tier driver who is competing for the championship has a small rules infraction during post-qualifying inspection, he is supposed to lose a starting spot to someone who isn’t competitive or a S&P who is only there to collect purse money?

07/21/2013 05:38 PM

To PeopleAreStrange: The simple answer is “yes”. If the cars of the non-competitive teams or S&P are legal then they should be in the race over the driver/car that is found to be illegal. Quite simply the reason that the one caught with an illegal part or set-up may be running for the championship may be for the very reasons he/she is caught. Their running illegal parts/set-up would also be the reason that the legal cars could be considered “non-competitive” as they are running within the rules.

07/22/2013 12:20 PM

all you who dislike jj, may as well forget him, ever getting any penalties! not until, he gets, eight championships and has more than petty and Earnhardt! that is the whole game plan for Hedrick!!oh! I don’t like him either, went to ASA races, didn’t like him, then, don’t like him now !!!


Contact Amy Henderson

Recent articles from Amy Henderson:

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Want to know more about Amy or see an archive of all of her articles? Check out her bio page for more information.