Citing fair play, NASCAR announced Wednesday that it would not penalize winner Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson although both of their cars failed the Laser Inspection Station after Sunday’s Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway.
NASCAR will eliminate the P2 and P3 penalties it introduced a week ago for failing the Laser Inspection Station after the race. Both Truex and Johnson faced P2 penalties, which would have been 10-point deductions.
Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development, said although both had similar infractions, their penalties would not be equal. By virtue of his win, Truex advances to the second round regardless of the penalty, but Johnson could see his chances of advancing hurt because of losing 10 points.
“If we applied those penalties, the postrace penalty really would not treat each competitor fairly,” O’Donnell said. “We also saw this as a potential situation that we could see repeating itself for the next nine races of the Chase going forward. So we made the decision coming out of Chicago not to penalize (Truex) or (Johnson) for the postrace infractions we saw in Chicago, which the industry would agree were minor in nature.”
O’Donnell said that by not penalizing either driver and eliminating the P2 and P3 penalties for the Laser Inspection Station that “we believe this is the most fair decision we could get to and the most fair playing field for the remaining nine races of the Chase.”
O’Donnell also said NASCAR will have all Chase teams go through the Laser Inspection Station after the race, beginning this weekend at New Hampshire. At Chicago, nine of the 16 Sprint Cup Chase teams went through inspection after the race.
“When we talked to the drivers and the teams shouldn’t all 16 (Chase) go through there and that’s a very fair point as well,” O’Donnell said. “Going forward that will be part of our postrace inspection as well. If we have a field of 16, all cars will go through postrace LIS and go down to 12, eight and four.”
With the change, O’Donnell was asked on a conference call with reporters, if it was better to do away with the Laser Inspection Station after the race.
“There was some thought on that, but this was an area we felt that very similar if you look at engines or different aspects where there are higher level penalties, we believe that at a P2 level penalty where we’re assessing them, it didn’t merit that level, but if you were to fully open it up, that could be a bigger issue and you could have cars almost crabwalking down the backstretch, which is not what anybody wants,” O’Donnell said. “In really discussing it with everyone, that P4 level, everyone had already agreed that if you were at that level to be encumbered or deserved to be penalized heavily. That’s why we landed there to keep it intact.
“We don’t want to be talking about postrace penalties. Our goal is to never have to penalize anybody and we want to just talk about the action on the track. We felt like that this is hopefully enough of a deterrent not to have teams go there and also to be very up front as to what the consequence would be.”