NASCAR made right call on LIS penalties
Over the last week or so, the biggest story coming out of the NASCAR community has been the revision of the penalty structure when it comes to post-race laser inspections. In case you missed it, here’s the gist: NASCAR will no longer be handing down penalties for minor infractions discovered in post-race laser inspections (LIS), and all active Chase team will go through the LIS. And as previously announced for major infractions (P4 or higher), NASCAR reserves the right to take away the benefits of winning when a given race’s winning car is discovered to have a major issue in post-race laser inspection. That includes taking away the automatic advancement to the next round, courtesy of said race win.
For the most part, the aforementioned changes were an issue of failed post-race laser inspections because of minor infractions by the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota team of Martin Truex Jr. and the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team of Jimmie Johnson about a week-and-a-half ago at Chicagoland Speedway, the first race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
With normal penalties for their infractions — points deductions and fines — hypothetically applied, it became obvious that, while fair in the sense that both teams would be issued the same penalties, the normal penalties weren’t fair in the sense that they would affect each team differently. With Truex’s win of the race, the points penalty would mean nothing; he automatically would advance to the next round of the Chase, regardless, and then, the points standings would be reset, anyway. For Johnson, though, a points deduction could knock him out of the Chase, thus ending his potential championship run.
Stripping race-winning teams of points, and then, doing the same to another team that didn’t win but failed the same inspection for a similar infraction just doesn’t seem fair, even though it’s the same penalty, does it? Because, while it’s the same penalty in once sense, it’s not in another. Championship hopes would survive for one but potentially not for the other. It’s the same penalty, but it’s not, if that makes any sense.
For that reason, I think NASCAR’s on to something with the idea of stripping race-winning benefits. But at the same time, it’s too severe a punishment for a minor infraction, especially with multiple teams contending that some of these minor infractions are results of on-track incidents. Whether on-track contact contributes to the minor infractions, though, the minor infractions are just that — minor. And minor infractions don’t constitute a loss of race-winning benefits. Such a penalty for such an infraction would be like issuing the death penalty for a speeding ticket.
Major infractions, though, are worthy of such a penalty.
Given the nature of the Chase format and the most logical potential penalties for minor infractions, NASCAR did the only fair thing with these changes. Good call, NASCAR, good call.