Jimmie Johnson, already the winningest driver in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, added to his tally Sunday, claiming a 10th-career Dover win with his victory in the FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks. With that 10th win, Johnson became only the fifth driver in NASCAR history to claim at least 10 wins at a single track.
While the race weekend ended on a positive note for the No. 48 team, the beginning of the race weekend was, at least somewhat, controversial.
Before heading to Dover, the No. 48 team was one of two teams penalized by NASCAR after receiving written warnings from the sanctioning body in two-consecutive race weekends. The punishment was making pit selection last, regardless of qualifying. Hendrick Motorsports, though, opted to appeal the penalty, deferring said penalty until the appeal could be heard. Here’s the rub — qualifying and pit selection is considered to be pretty important at Dover. At the next couple of tracks on the schedule (Pocono Raceway and Michigan International Speedway)? Not so much.
Johnson wound up qualifying a lackluster 14th at Dover, so the eappeal probably didn’t make much of a difference. Sure, there are some primo spots on pit road to be had, but those were claimed by the top few qualifiers. Once you get back to 14th, is there really much of a difference between the remaining available stalls? I’m guessing not.
Still, it’s the whole principle of the matter. I don’t blame Hendrick Motorsports for the call to appeal the penalty to avoid having to serve it at Dover. It was a smart move. If I were in that position, I would have done the same thing, that is, if I would’ve thought of it.
“The issue I have is that it was even an option. Under normal circumstances, I’m all for the appeals process. And as far as that goes, I think penalties should be deferred until appeals are heard. After all, what would be the point of appealing a penalty if you have to carry the penalty out, regardless?
But I think that maybe the penalty for two-straight written warnings should be unappealable. After all, rules infractions leading to written warnings and the fact that a team receives a couple written warnings are pretty cut and dry, aren’t they? Plus, Hendrick Motorsports showed the system could be played to minimize, or even eliminate, the damage from the punishment by simply appealing said penalty.
Again, I don’t blame HMS for intelligently manipulating the system. Like they say, “Don’t hate the player; hate the game.”
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