News Analysis: NASCAR now has giant balls, will take wins away from cheaters

What happened: NASCAR announced it will take wins away from cars found to be illegal after races. It will complete postrace inspection entirely at the track — within 90 minutes of the checkered flag — and strip the trophy, points and money of a winner who got to victory lane by cheating. The second-place car will then move up and be named the winner, while the cheating team would be scored last.

What it means: NASCAR got tired of being bullied by its own race teams, and officials are finally doing something about it. Over the past few years, as NASCAR attempted to crack down on those who choose to intentionally break the rules, the sanctioning body was often the one who came away looking foolish. For whatever reason, everyone blamed NASCAR — not the cheating teams — when a driver didn’t pass pre-qualifying inspection or was given an encumbered win on a Wednesday after the race.

NASCAR was trying to police the garage but instead let itself get walked all over by teams with various levels of explanations and excuses for what they’d done. And while we all know crew chiefs will continue to push the limits in order to find speed, there’s a big difference when it comes to blatantly breaking the rules. Now, the days of teams getting off with relatively little damage after cheating are — thankfully, mercifully, blessedly — over.

Kevin Harvick had two encumbered wins last year that would have been disqualified under the 2019 rules — including one in Round 3 of the playoffs. He made the final four anyway, which would not have happened had the win and points been stripped entirely.

Teams might not like this change, but the solution is pretty simple. Don’t want to get embarrassed? Don’t want to be labeled as a cheater? Don’t want your sponsor to be upset? Then don’t break the rules!

News value: Ten! Even though officials hinted at this possibility last fall, this marks a total culture shift when it comes to penalties. NASCAR previously found ways to take everything but the win away in various forms of midweek punishments (hence the whole “encumbered” thing), but officials realized it didn’t go far enough. Given NASCAR hasn’t stripped a win since 1960, this is pretty big news.

Three questions: Which team will be the first to have a win taken away? What will the scene be like at the track when that happens? Will this serve as an actual deterrent, or will teams still try things anyway and just hope they don’t get caught?

Selected previous columns about taking the win away:

Sept. 30, 2007

Sept. 19, 2016

Sept. 6, 2017


26 Replies to “News Analysis: NASCAR now has giant balls, will take wins away from cheaters”

  1. And the first time the 9 gets nailed everyone will bitch about it being a stupid rule. Be very careful what you wish for!

    1. I have to agree with Jeff past pentalities are not equal to manufacturer and change to format took the excitement out the racing. Now pit crews are just
      discount tire changers and its more exciting to watch close driving on loop around a city

  2. The embarrassing sponsors thing could be significant sine a lot of sponsors are now only partially invested. A big time sponsor can shake off a DQ as the cost of racing, but the 4 race deal sponsors thinking about increasing there future investment in the sport probably would say screw this if their car gets a DQ. Of course now everybody will race by the letter of the law🙄

  3. Wow I can’t believe they finally did it but admit I am glad. And I won’t guess the first so as not to upset anyone. This will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

    1. I agree with new policy. If you can’t play fair, what kind of example are you setting for your younger fans. Even your older fans want to see a fair race.

  4. I know I’m probably the minority, but I actually don’t like this. I like that they won’t wait until mid-week to announce results, but I don’t like taking the win away. To me, this has the same feel as the NCAA vacating wins from college football teams; a practice that most fans would agree is symbolic and pointless. The real losers here are the fans that actually attend the race. By the time the official winner is announced, they will be driving home completely oblivious to the situation, while the rest of us sit around staring at our mobile devices anxiously awaiting the official results. For the fans at the race, you can erase the win from the record books, but you can’t erase the memory of the race and the celebration of the driver they thought won said race. For this reason, I fully support eliminating post- race inspection. The cars should have a very detailed and thorough pre-race inspection the night before the race, and all cars impounded until the race begins. If an issue is not caught in pre-race inspection or during the race, that’s on NASCAR, not the team.

    1. Exactly, we’ll put. If pass pre race send winners back thru same test. Not a completely differant type of inspection

    2. That’s exactly how I feel about it! I hate it for the fans at the track either waiting at the track to see who won or going home and finding out later. When the checkered flag falls that’s it, the winner. Inspect and impound!

  5. News value of “Ten”? Have you ever given any other story this high of a rating? Just to be clear, I agree.

    On a side note, I bet the New Orleans Saints applaud this decision and hope that the NFL takes note. 😃

  6. I guess the reaction will depend on what is considered cheating. The engineering minds at NASCAR know more about what teams are trying to get away with than the general fan.

    However, with tolerances in the degrees of millimeters and on-track incidents affecting things like alignments, it has to be very clear and consistent what will be considered cheating. The other challenge is for the officials to communicate in advance what penalties are disqualifiers. Is it all L-1 or L-2? Is it some of them and not others?

    This all has to be decided in the next two weeks so that all teams are playing under the same rules for the entire season, which is something that NASCAR has had difficulty pulling off in the past.

  7. While it was in the Busch series not Cup in 1995 Dale Jarrett was stripped of a win at Michigan after the race and Mark Martin was given the Victory

  8. Are drivers ever going to be accountable for aggressive driving that takes out other drivers? It seems penalties are only directed at the cars and the crew chiefs. Drivers can do no wrong other than pit road violations. Plant another driver into the wall, and nothing happens other than a caution flag for cleanup. Most series have driver penalties for aggressive driving that causes a spin or accident. Then again, Nascar thrives on that type of driving. Regarding penalties issued on cars that have post-race inspection issues. I’m assuming that NASCAR takes into consideration that there’s a possibility of part breakage or changes during the race from contact during the race that could change the car from it’s pre-race inspection. It will be interesting to see how this all works and how well NASCAR enforces it.

  9. I like the idea of punishing cheaters
    But who will attend victory lane and all picture taking celebration if the winner is declared a cheater ?

  10. Well after 40 years they are finally catching up with times. Big bill wanted people to know the winner before leaving the track. Well obviously times have changed and NASCAR has caught up. We want the real winner, not the cheating winners.

  11. What would constitute “cheating” when a car passed pre-race inspection? How far will NASCAR go (in 90 minutes) if they really want to find something to deny a win? They could fail anyone–and IF a winner is stripped of victory, is the 2nd place car subject to the same scrutiny–and what if that car fails? Looks to me like they (NASCAR) need to be prepared for inspection of all top 3 or top 5 cars within that 90-minute window. Is a racecar that has just completed 500 miles of racing really supposed to pass OSS scrutiny without any “demerits”??? It will be helpful for NASCAR to provide a guide for public consumption, so fans, media, etc, will not be left scratching their heads….specific violations, not the L-1/L-2, etc. “infractions”, without naming the exact reason(s).

  12. Another story says this procedure will apply for all 3 “pro” series–so after a few DQ’s, look for smaller fields in Xfinity & and especially Trucks–heck, how many sponsors will abandon ship on NASCAR at any level, if/when DQ’s are issued? What about appeals–if one should ever be overturned, how is that resolved? Aren’t NT-1 engines sealed?

  13. Rules are only as good as the paper they are written on. How they are interpreted as well as applied makes all the difference. For example, look at the NFL. In the first few weeks of the year, there were many penalties for roughing the passer. After a rules clarification, the quantity of roughing the passer significantly decreased. The rule never changed, just how it was called. How will NASCAR interpret, as well as, apply the rules and subsequent penalties is what is to watch for. The onus is on NASCAR to be fair and most importantly consistent.

    What is most troubling is the arrogance displayed by O’Donnell, Probst and Miller. Where did this arrogance come from? Moreover, what actions warranted the display of arrogance? Just last week the first test was underwhelming, now these new rules/ DQ procedures. Modesty would have done much better here, especially with a disgruntled fan base.

    Scott Miller….”we are in the entertainment business”… Get used to this folks. NASCAR is no longer about motorsports. NASCAR is a three hour sports entertainment television show showing automobiles going in circles. If you want pure motorsports, go to your local race track and partake in the festivities. If you want to watch the WWE of motorsports, FOX begins their broadcast on Sunday.

  14. This should make a lot of people happy. I’m kinda scared of a car failing because of a part failure or something. I like what Ryan said, quote – “The cars should have a very detailed and thorough pre-race inspection the night before the race, and all cars impounded until the race begins. If an issue is not caught in pre-race inspection or during the race, that’s on NASCAR, not the team.”

  15. I like the idea, but I think it will potentially be the nail in the coffin for the sport. Sponsors will grow tired of this idea very quickly..

  16. Impound all cars after they qualify. Then nobody can change something. If pass pre race inspection things should still be good unless damaged.

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