NASCAR made it perfectly clear from the outset of this season that any infractions made on the Car of Tomorrow would not be tolerated. As is so common with the sport the message did not resonate, and we saw that when they penalized Dale Earnhardt Jr. for alterations made to brackets on the rear wing. Tony Eury was out for several races and NASCAR levied heavy monetary and points penalties. Having not learned from the mistakes of their competitors, both Haas CNC teams made a very similar change and in turn had their cars confiscated and were relegated to the back of the field. If history is any indicator, Bootie Barker and Dave Skog won’t be with us next week.
Since the earliest days of NASCAR, competitors have been working to bend the rules and tread in the grey areas. Famed mechanic Smokey Yunick once built a car that had been scaled down to gain an advantage; his hatred for Bill France also contributed to his need to pull the wool over their eyes. Through the years, the National Stock Car Racing Commission made up of former racers, business people and general NASCAR dignitaries has had the final say in the levying of fines. They hear complaints and have the ultimate power in the rules department.
Despite there existing an official body to hear complaints, penalties have fluctuated about as much as gas prices and despite all the criticism NASCAR has done nothing to standardize penalties. Apparently screwing with brackets on the COT is just as severe as adding jet fuel additives to a car’s racing fuel. NASCAR undermines their authority as an unbiased sanctioning body every time they dole out a fine. It would be as simple as creating a fine schedule for certain penalties, then again that wouldn’t allow NASCAR to issue penalties and create new ones on a whim.
We’ll find out later this week how severe the penalties against Haas CNC will be, but they are sure to be harsh. Long story short, if you don’t want to get fined follow the rule book; if you want to win races, don’t.