By admin | July 8, 2012
By Richard Allen
Does anyone really know what it means to be placed on probation by NASCAR? This is becoming a rather frequently asked question among those who pay attention to this sport as the answer is one not very clearly defined.
The case of Austin Dillon’s failed post-race inspection(because the car was too low) after he won the Nationwide Series race at the Kentucky Speedway serves as an example of the vagaries of the sport’s use of probation as a means of punishment. Dillon’s crew chief, Danny Stockman, was at the time of this infraction already on probation for a separate violation found earlier in the season.
The #3 Nationwide Series car was found to have illegal bumper covers at Richmond which initially landed the pit boss in trouble.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know a lot about the way the legal system works. But it has been my understanding that probation is supposed to cause the person on probation to incur a more serious penalty if another violation is committed during the time of said probation.
Apparently that is not the case in NASCAR. It would seem logical, and probably justified, for Stockman to have been suspended for at least a race or two after the finding of the second violation. Instead, however, the crew chief received a fine of $10,000 for the height infraction at Kentucky, and as the release from NASCAR stated, “In addition, Stockman and car chief Robert Strmiska continue to remain on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.”
Is it a punishment after a violation has been committed to simply tell someone already on probation that they are STILL on probation? Stockman and his car chief were already on probation. That’s not a punishment. It’s simply a statement.
And to show how well this dropping of the proverbial hammer worked, the very next week in Daytona after Dillon had logged the fastest lap in qualifying, the car failed inspection again. Someone who feared the consequences of a rule violation while on probation would have made absolutely sure their car was within the tolerances before sending it onto the track the very next week.
And what may be even more ludicrous than the lack of punishment was the explanation. It was said that the two violations were not the same so the probation was not an issue. That’s ridiculous.
So the only thing Stockman could have been suspended for would have been having illegal bumper covers on the car? Well, in Kentucky the car was too low. In Daytona a cooling hose inside the car was unhooked. A NASCAR race car has hundreds, if not thousands, of working parts and pieces so there are many more violations left before one might be repeated.
But take into consideration that Kurt Busch was placed on probation for his actions during and following a race in Darlington. Then shortly afterwards, he was suspended for one race when he threatened a reporter. To my knowledge, Busch did not threaten a reporter after the Darlington race. Thus, he did not commit the same violation. Using the stated reason for Stockman’s lack of stronger punishment, Busch should not have been suspended.
Keep in mind that this piece was not written to defend Kurt Busch’s vulgarity or even to necessarily say that Danny Stockman should have been suspended. I am simply asking a question. What exactly does it mean to be on NASCAR probation?
As of now, there does not seem to be a clear answer.
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