By admin | February 23, 2011
By Richard Allen
Michael Waltrip pulled his truck into victory lane at the Daytona International Speedway exactly ten years to the day from when he first pulled a Sprint Cup car into victory lane at that same facility. Trouble is, his Toyota Tundra was clearly in violation of the NASCAR rule which stipulates that the spoiler must maintain a certain minimum angle. He should have never been allowed to enter victory lane.
On Wednesday, NASCAR issued a $25,000 fine to crew chief Doug Howe and placed him on probation for the rest of the 2011 season. Owner Billy Ballew was docked 25 owner points for the infraction.
In the closing laps of Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series event the right half of Waltrip’s spoiler broke and was laying flat on the back of the truck’s rear deck. Video evidence shows that the spoiler was in this position for at least one full lap. As the trucks exited turn four coming to the checkered flag Waltrip swung out and passed Elliott Sadler, just beating him to the line.
NASCAR posts an official at the entrance of the garage area after each race for the specific purpose of checking spoiler angles. If cars or trucks are going to be allowed to fail that inspection but keep the position in which they finished what is the point of having the official, or the rule for that matter?
I have long maintained that there should not be a mandated spoiler angle rule, only a rule for the size and shape of the piece. Teams should be allowed to race with the rear blade at whatever angle they like. However, there is a rule, at least we’ve been told there is a rule.
Since a scoring debacle that occurred in Atlanta in 1978, NASCAR has made it their policy to have declared a winner for each race as quickly as possible and to stick with that winner. There have been numerous instances in which cars have been found to be out of compliance in post-race inspections which have resulted in fines and points reductions. However, this was not a case in which the truck was deemed outside the rule book hours or even days later. This violation was clearly evident even with the machines running at full speed.
The team in question says this was an honest mistake. That is almost certainly true. However, intent is not the issue. It is the obligation of each team to see to it that its vehicles are capable of passing pre and post race inspections.
Consistent inconsistency has been one of the most common complaints by fans and media against NASCAR in regard to the enforcement of its rules. They had a chance to get an easy one right in this instance and missed.
Some have argued that because this was the tenth anniversary of Waltrip’s first Daytona 500 win and at the same time the tenth anniversary of the passing of Dale Earnhardt, Sr. the story was too good to be ruined by a disqualification. If NASCAR is going to make its rulings based on sentiment rather than the rule book, the rule book might as well be placed in the trash can.
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