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Penalty for Chase Elliott’s team not harsh enough

If you’re a NASCAR fan, I’m guessing you’ve heard of “tapegate” by now. If no, long story short, a No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports crewman was caught on video applying a piece of tape to the spoiler of Chase Elliott’s car during a pit stop during Sunday’s race at Chicagoland Speedway, the first race of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. After a second-place finish, said crewman was caught on video, again, but this time removing the tape, thinking he was doing so before the team got caught. The fact that he did it right behind Elliott when he was being interviewed for TV probably wasn’t the best decision, but that’s beside the point. Anyway, the incident resulted in a $25,000 fined, one-race suspensions for crew chief and car chief and Elliott lost 15 points.

The penalties, specifically the points deduction, shows me that some of the penalties NASCAR has been issuing lately just aren’t stiff enough. Sure, Elliott’s runner-up finish was deemed “encumbered” by NASCAR, something I didn’t mention in the first paragraph. Still, do you realize that, even with the 15 points taken away, Elliott came away with more points scored in that race than all but seven other drivers. Simply put, Elliott came away with the basic equivalent of an eighth-place finish, even after the penalty. That’s still a sizable point gain, folks.

And this infraction wasn’t for something that we, or the team, reasonably attribute to merely pushing the envelope and the car just falling outside the tolerance due to the natural racing environment. This was blatant cheating by at least one crew member. We don’t know for sure whether a higher-up tied to the team put the guy up to it, whether this guy and some of his teammates hatched out a plan together, or if this guy acted along. Nonetheless, this was blatant cheating and the team still came out ahead, post-punishment. That just doesn’t sit well with me.

Yes, I realize there’s a good chance Elliott was unaware of this guy’s actions before or after the case, but this is a team sport, folks. And in this case, a team member, obviously and intentionally, cheated. He’s seen on video taking the tape from his pocket and applying it to the spoiler in a way that it would eventually pull up, increasing downforce on the car. Then, he was caught trying to avoid being caught cheating. I admit, I kinda find that little nugget amusing, but again, that’s beside the point.

Even if NASCAR isn’t going to strip wins, can the sanctioning body at least take away all points earned in said race? I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (facebook.com/nascarexaminer).

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Posted by on September 20, 2017. Filed under Blog by Amanda Vincent,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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