Some drivers, like Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano, don’t think NASCAR should take wins away from cars found to be illegal. As NASCAR officials themselves have said for years, Logano said “fans came to the race to watch the race and they should see a winner after the race.”
“I don’t think (the penalty) needs to be more severe,” said Logano, whose encumbered victory at Richmond may cost him a playoff berth if he doesn’t win Saturday night.
But Denny Hamlin, who had both wins in his Darlington sweep encumbered after penalties this week, disagreed.
“We can talk about taking wins away in the future,” Hamlin said Friday. “I think it’s definitely a possibility. As long as it’s the same for everyone. I think that’s key: Make sure when someone else is in there with the same violation, it gets the same penalty and treatment — even if it’s in the playoffs.”
Hamlin said what makes him nervous is whether NASCAR would have the same enforcement during the playoffs — particularly since there are eliminations and even a championship race. Would NASCAR dare change the outcome several days after the fact? That would be a major controversy.
“Obviously, it’s negative publicity for everyone involved, so I just hope that it’s the same (in the playoffs),” Hamlim said. “I’m fine with taking wins away. Nothing wrong with that.”
Hamlin, of course, came up through the short track ranks — where cars frequently get disqualified for running afoul of the rules. So the concept might be more familiar to him, which makes it easier to endorse.
One idea Hamlin said that could further discourage teams from breaking the rules is to lose playoff points they already have.
“I’m all for harsher penalties for parole violators, you know what I mean?” he said. “If you do it on a constant basis, you definitely should be penalized for it.”
The biggest problem Hamlin sees is deciding what warrants a stripped win. Messing with engine, tires, fuel? Obviously. Rear suspension? Probably. But what about aero advantages?
NASCAR would have to make those determinations and make sure it was the same for everyone. That doesn’t mean the rule-breaking will stop, though, because all teams need to work right up to the line without crossing it.
“We fight for every inch because there’s speed there,” Hamlin said. “So it’s a tough game and you’ve got to be willing to take the consequences when you pass over that line that gets drawn in the sand.”
Poll: Should NASCAR take the win away if the car is found to be illegal?
— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) September 6, 2017