Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a fan of “the way NASCAR is handling” the recent changes to the sport’s post-race laser inspection rules.
Earnhardt made his comments on the most recent episode of his Dale Jr Download podcast, which was released Monday.
Following the opening Chase race at Chicagoland Speedway, the cars of winner Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson failed laser inspection. NASCAR rescinded its P2 and P3 level penalties, which had been introduced that week along with a more severe P4 penalty. The move was made after NASCAR admitted the eventual penalties would not have resulted in fair punishments for either team.
“They’re being stern and drawing clear lines for the teams to understand,” said Earnhardt, who is out for the rest of the season for a concussion he received in June. “That’s all I think I would want as a driver or a crew chief is to understand the box you have to work in and not see that boundary become blurred or confusing or different for one team or the other. So I like what NASCAR has done as far as reaction to the events of the last couple weeks.”
With the P4 level penalty, which applies to laser inspection and three or more lug nuts not secured, teams face a $65,000 fine, loss of 35 driver and owner points and a three-race suspension for the crew chief.
“Tell us how it is … Give the teams penalties when they’re deserving,” Earnhardt said. “They didn’t foresee the circumstances that they ended up with in Chicago. It was an interesting and challenging situation for NASCAR to be put in.”
With the points penalties Truex and Johnson could have received, Truex would have kept his automatic bid into the Chase while Johnson’s chance at advancing without a win would have been potentially hindered.
“I like Steve (O’Donnell), I think he does a great job steering the sport and especially handling this type of difficult situations, Mike Helton and those guys, they have been in that position for a long, long time,” Earnhardt said of O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “So he’s got that kind of leadership to lean on. You know that the decisions that Steve is announcing are a collaboration of the competition committee, NASCAR and it’s not just one guy up there saying this is how it’s going to be. The sport all works together to come to these type of conclusions. I like what’s going on.”