Richard Childress Racing official likes rule change, says team can’t look back

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LOUDON, NH — Richard Childress Racing’s director of competition says NASCAR made the right decision in altering its penalty for a laser inspection violation and adds that the team can’t look back on what such a penalty did for Ryan Newman’s Chase hopes.

NASCAR penalized Newman 15 points for failing the Laser Inspection Station after the Southern 500 earlier this month. The P3 infraction dropped him to 22 points out of the final Chase transfer spot at Richmond. Newman failed to advance.

The cars of Martin Truex Jr., who won the opening Chase race, and Jimmie Johnson both failed the Laser Inspection Station two weeks later after the Chicagoland race. Both were at the P2 level.

NASCAR announced this week that it would not penalize either. Instead, series officials eliminated the P2 and P3 level of infractions for failing the Laser Inspection Station, giving teams more of tolerance before facing a penalty.

“They made the right decision to go to one level that can’t happen naturally, so if you miss it at the level you have now it’s pretty obvious it takes a lot to do that,’’ said Dr. Eric Warren, director of competition at RCR. “I think that is right.’’

Warren admits had the change come a couple of weeks sooner, it could have helped Newman.

“It would have changed the race at Richmond a lot,’’ Warren said. “That part did affect the Chase.’’

The team stated that contact with the wall caused Newman’s car not to pass inspection after the race.

Warren admits that the team can’t dwell on what happened, saying: “We’ve got to keep looking forward.’’

Matt Kenseth, who was penalized after his winning car failed the Laser Inspection Station in July at New Hampshire, said he was OK with the change but also had questions.

“I feel like maybe we should have changed it a couple months ago,’’ Kenseth said. “I’m OK with that going forward, but I’m not so sure how I feel about no penalties because we all knew what the rules were last Sunday and what the penalties were if you broke those rules and then to come out a week later and say, ‘OK, well, we changed our mind. There isn’t those penalties for the rules.’ I’m not sure how I feel about that.

“I’m OK with the rules being changed going forward. I’m always OK with whatever they want to come up with as rules as long as we all know what they are ahead of time and we all know what the penalties are ahead of time for breaking those rules.”

Truex applauded NASCAR for making the change this week.

“I think NASCAR made a really smart decision this week,’’ he told NBCSN during Friday’s practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.“It’s definitely better for this sport as a whole, we can continue to talk about what great racing we’re having and not about 10-thousandths off on a laser that is inconsistent.’’

Warren says that the added tolerance before a penalty is triggered will alleviate the issue of race damage causing a problem but creates another issue.

“What will happen ultimately is that people are still gong to push it to whatever that limit is, it’s just a new line, you’re still trying to run close to the line,’’ Warren said. “The penalty is very severe. We’ll see. I think for what we have for the rest of the year is the right thing to do.’’

Now if a team fails the Laser Inspection Station, it will be a P4 penalty. The team will lose 35 points, be fined $65,000 and have its crew chief suspended three races. If the team won the race, the win won’t advance to the next round of the Chase via that win.