NASCAR Is Finally Disqualifying Winning Drivers Who Cheat
NASCAR competition officials announced Monday that post-race inspection for all three national series will have a new model for 2019, introducing a system where race-winning teams found in violation of the rule book would be disqualified.
The rules change signals a shift in a long-standing tradition of penalizing an offending race winner with fines, suspensions and/or points deductions, but allowing victories to stand. The new system also accelerates the timetable for thorough post-race technical inspections, which will now be conducted at the track soon after the checkered flag instead of midweek at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina.
“I think for us, we’re really looking at a total culture change,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer. “We’ve been through a deterrence model where we’ve really worked with the race teams at the track and probably been more lenient than we should in terms of the number of times teams can go through inspection and pass, fail and there’s almost incentive to try to get something by NASCAR, so we want to really reverse that trend.
“We’re going to put it on the teams to bring their equipment right. When they come to the track, we’ll be much less lenient as they go through technical inspection with stiffer penalties in terms of qualifying, and then ultimately during the race, obviously we want everyone to be racing straight up.”
The cars of the first-place and second-place finishers, plus at least one randomly selected car, will undergo post-race inspection at the track. Competition officials said they are targeting a time frame of approximately 90 minutes to two hours to complete the inspection and confirm the race winner.
Should one of those cars fail the post-race inspection, the driver and team would receive last-place points and the rest of the finishing order would move up. Disqualified teams also would be stripped of the benefits of playoff points, stage points and automatic postseason berths and playoff advancement.
The shift in rules marks a distinct break from a longstanding, unwritten company policy. Series organizers have avoided taking wins away for decades, adhering to a belief that fans should leave the race track with an assurance that the first finisher was indeed the winner.
Current-day officials acknowledged that break in tradition, saying that a goal of the new procedures was to accelerate the inspection process and avoid the potential pall that midweek penalties can cast over both the previous week’s result and the following week’s race.
More information regarding the rule change on NASCAR.com.