Martin Truex Jr. has good reason for anger over penalty
After running out or near the front throughout the Quaker State 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta on Saturday night, Martin Truex Jr. got of pit road first on lap 196, during a caution, to take the race lead. But wait just a minute. Truex didn’t get the lead; instead, he got a penalty for passing to the left on pit road.
Sure, passing to the left on pit road is a no-no, according to the NASCAR rule book, but still, I think Truex had every right to be upset about the penalty he was assessed for committing said no-no.
According to Truex, it’s something that’s done multiple times every race. And he’s not imagining things by thinking that, apparently. When NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell spoke to SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Monday, he mentioned that NASCAR officials have noticed violations of the rule we’re talking about, here, more often this season.
Really?!? Then why decline to penalize driver and then, all of a sudden, slap Truex with a penalty, 18 races into the 36-race season? According to O’Donnell, Truex’s breaking of the rule was “blatant.” Then, are other drivers accidentally passing other cars to the left on pit road? I kind of doubt it, at least in most cases.
Sure, Truex broke a rule. And believe me. I’m all for drivers being expected to follow the rules and being penalized when they don’t do so. But to not force a rule for 17 races and then, without warning, bust a driver for breaking said rule? I think NASCAR got this all wrong.
I’m not suggesting that NASCAR should never enforce this rule again after not enforcing it for, at least, the first 17 races of the season. What I’m suggesting is that, if NASCAR decided its officials are going to start enforcing this rule, warn drivers during the drivers’ meeting before actually beginning to enforce it. If a decision had been made to begin enforcing the rule at Kentucky, then drivers should have been warned during the drivers’ meeting before the Kentucky race.
According to O’Donnell, NASCAR will “address it with the industry prior to New Hampshire, again, to reiterate what the rule is, as well, and if there’s any questions where we have to make it more clear, we’ll certainly do so.”
Shouldn’t this have been done at Kentucky? Either that, or rule enforcement shouldn’t have begun until New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.