NASCAR’s Enforcement Fails to Keep Up With the Times

After Matt Kenseth’s victory at Kansas Speedway, the engine from his car was taken to NASCAR’s Research and Development Center (a normal practice) for further inspection.  During that inspection, it was determined that one of the engine’s eight connecting rods was 2.7 grams too light.  As a result of that discovery, Kenseth and team received the following penalties:

  • 50 Driver points
  • 3 Bonus Points in the Chase from the win
  • Crew Chief fined $200,000
  • 50 Owner’s points
  • Owner’s license suspended for 6 races (which prevents the team from collecting owner’s points for those 6 races)
  • Kenseth’s pole at Kansas made ineligible for the 2014 Sprint Unlimited
  • 5 Manufacturer points from Toyota

The above penalties show that NASCAR and its rules enforcement haven’t kept up with the times.

Penalties such as these would have been understandable if NASCAR teams were still developing, building, and maintaining their own engines but these days, most teams are aren’t doing that, they buy their engines from another source such as Hendrick, Roush-Yates, or TRD.  Essentially, most teams order an engine from one of the engine builders, the engine shows up in a crate, the engine is taken out of the crate and dropped in the race car.  These teams don’t actually build their own engines.  In this case, the engines for Kenseth’s car don’t come from Joe Gibbs Racing, they come from Toyota Racing Development (TRD).  Therefore, the light connecting rod was not built into the engine by the team, it was built into the engine by TRD; Kenseth’s car just happened to end up with that engine.   NASCAR’s enforcement and penalty system aren’t taking that into account.

The team definitely should have received a penalty; the engine was illegal.  The penalty issued was out of line compared to how the engines are built and issued during this era of NASCAR racing.  What NASCAR should have done was take the win away.  Since NASCAR won’t do that, they should have taken away all of the driver and owner points gained by the victory and taken the team’s winnings for the weekend.  The heavier penalties should have been levied against the engine builder – TRD.  The question you run into here is how do you penalize them?  How big would the fine be in order to actually punish them?  Does taking manufacturer points from Toyota truly bother them seeing as how the Manufacturer’s championship really doesn’t seem to mean as much these days?

These are questions NASCAR should answer instead of penalizing the wrong people the heaviest.  Blame should be placed where blame is due and in this case, the blame is due the engine builder rather than the team that ended up with that engine.  NASCAR needs move from the past into the present and update their enforcement and penalty process.

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