CONCORD, N.C. — When NASCAR officials announced Monday afternoon that teams that fail post-race technical inspection could face disqualification, it was music to our ears.
For years NASCAR has battled to find a solution for teams pushing the limits of the rulebook and, in some instances, surpassing the limit entirely by breaking the rules.
We’re willing to bet getting disqualified will fix a lot of these issues quickly.
NASCAR has been hesitant for years to disqualify teams because of the belief that fans should leave the track knowing who won the race. With this change in philosophy, NASCAR has finally gotten up to speed in terms of rules enforcement.
Officials plan to conduct post-race inspection at the race track rather than later in the week at the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, N.C., as has been tradition for some time now. If a car is found to have an issue at the track, the offending team will be disqualified and the car will be scored at the rear of the field.
The team doesn’t get to bring home the trophy. It doesn’t get the winner’s share of the purse or points. It receives last-place money and last-place points. It’s as simple as that.
Here’s an example. Last November Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Ford was found to have an illegally modified spoiler following his victory at Texas Motor Speedway. Under the new rules, Harvick would have been disqualified on the spot and the victory, trophy and winner’s purse would have gone to runner-up Ryan Blaney.
This change in philosophy is long overdue. Rules are rules for a reason and they need to be treated as such. For far too long NASCAR has taken a substandard approach when it comes to enforcing rules. Financial and points penalties hurt, but what’s the point if they keep the trophy and the winner’s check?
Short trackers around the country know exactly what it’s like to face disqualification. At most short tracks, if a car doesn’t pass post-race inspection, that car is promptly disqualified. Teams can argue all they want, but at the end of the day if thecar isn’t compliant with rules, trophies and winners’ purses will not be awarded.
Look at the Snowball Derby for example. If a driver wins that race, which is run every December at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla., he or she knows the victory isn’t official until the car passes inspection in Ricky Brooks’ famed “Room of Doom.”
Perhaps NASCAR having its own “Room of Doom” is exactly what the sanctioning body needs. Sell tickets. Set up grandstands. Make it a show. As long as rules are enforced and the punishment fits the crime, we’ll be happy.