CONCORD, N.C. – In a seismic philosophical change, NASCAR will take wins away for violations and alter its inspection process this season.
“We’re changing the culture,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, on Monday. “We’ve tried to do one way, and it hasn’t worked.”
Should the winning car fail inspection (for virtually any infraction other than lug nuts), it will have the win taken away – and no longer be listed in the record book as the winner – and lose all benefits from the victory, including points, stage points and money. If the winning car fails and the runner-up clears, the runner-up will be declared the winner.
NASCAR stated that a violation of one unsecured lug nut would not trigger a disqualification but three would. NASCAR stated that any other violation would lead to a disqualification of a winning car.
Throughout much of its history, NASCAR has been hesitant to take wins away from cars that failed inspection after the race either at the track or, more recently, at NASCAR’s R&D Center. NASCAR officials often said the basis for leaving wins intact was that fans who watched or attended the event should know the winner when they left the track or the race broadcast ended.
O’Donnell said he anticipates the winner being declared official about 90 minutes after the race. He said the winner, runner-up and “random” will typically be inspected after the race. The random car often is expected to be the third-place car in case the top two finishers fail inspection.
NASCAR will consider still taking a car to the R&D Center for teardown, but that will be only to examine any trends in the sport.
Previously, NASCAR did some inspection after the race and often took two or more Cup cars back to the NASCAR R&D Center for further inspection.
It was because of such inspections that penalties were issued to Kevin Harvick‘s team after his wins at Las Vegas and after Texas in the playoffs.
After the Las Vegas win, NASCAR determined a violation with the rear window of Harvick’s car.
After the Texas playoff win, NASCAR stated that Harvick’s team did not use the spoiler exactly as supplied from the manufacturer.
Vice president of competition Scott Miller said Harvick would have been stripped of both wins under this policy.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps had hinted at such a change in his news conference with the media the day of the Cup finale in Miami by saying that series officials planned to “look at the inspection process.”