One NASCAR driver lost points and crew chief for an infraction the size of a $20 bill – For The Win
As Dale Earnhardt Jr. said last weekend, “ever since (NASCAR) made the first rulebook,” teams have been pushing to find a way around it for even the smallest competitive edge.
But rules are rules, and when teams are caught bending them a little too much, they usually accept NASCAR’s punishment. Although it doesn’t seem like much of a deterrent.
This week, it was Aric Almirola’s turn. After finishing fourth in the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, his No. 43 Ford failed the post-race laser inspection for the rear wheel steer being .01 of an inch over the tolerance, and NASCAR dished out its standard penalty of docking driver points (35) and fining and suspending the crew chief – Drew Blickensderfer, who’s out $65,000 and sidelined for three races.
“We accept NASCAR’s decision and will continue to work to get the most out of our race cars every week while maintaining the NASCAR rulebook,” Philippe Lopez, Director of Competition at Richard Petty Motorsports, said in statement. “We look forward to Kansas this weekend.”
Instead of being 17th in the driver standings, Almirola is now in 20th and 241 points behind leader Kyle Larson.
No one is saying there shouldn’t be repercussions for breaking the rules, but the punishment needs to be more proportional to the infraction. And after Blickensderfer explained the violation Wednesday night on FOX Sports’ Race Hub, the penalty actually seems a bit ridiculous.
As Blickensderfer described, “NASCAR regulates all that slop, so you can’t have monkey business going on back there, but there is slop just to be able to put the system together. That slop can be the difference between making it and breaking it.”
He also demonstrates by how much – or how little – the No. 43 car’s rear wheel steer broke the rules. Taking 10 or 15 fewer driver points away and losing Blickensderfer for one or two races still would have been a big blow.
Again, rules are rules, but perhaps NASCAR should consider making the punishment fit the crime.