By admin | April 24, 2013
By Richard Allen
As has been well documented, Matt Kenseth and his Joe Gibbs Racing team were hammeredby NASCAR for a violation involving their engine following a victory last Sunday at the Kansas Speedway. Because a connecting rod within that power plant proved lighter than is allowed, heavy penalties including fines, point reductions and the suspension of crew chief Jason Ratcliff were levied against the team.
Before going any further, it must be pointed out that there had to be a penalty issued because there was a violation. The severity of the penalty could be debated but the need for it is not a question.
What is questionable is the excessive number of rules currently enforced by NASCAR in the Sprint Cup division. As I have opined many times here on this website, too many of the race car’s parts and pieces are dictated, and handed out, by the sanctioning body. Teams have fewer and fewer options when setting their cars up and are being punished for even the slightest variations from the not always so clearly defined rules.
Kenseth’s team became the latest in a string to have points and money taken away for a seemingly minor infraction. This coming on the heels of Penske Racing being hit hard for unapproved parts discovered on their cars prior to the Sprint Cup event in Texas.
My fear is that there will come a time in which NASCAR will use these rule violations as an excuse to essentially create a kit car. Truth is, they’re not terribly far fromÂ that now as the new Gen-6 does indeed come as somewhat of an assemble by the numbers car.
If NASCAR were to send all the pieces and parts to teams to simply assemble and load on the truck, the argument could be made that attempts to cheat, or work in the gray area,Â would be all but eliminated. Parts such as shocks, springs and tires are handed to teams at the track now. Other aspects of the car’s setup such as camber angles, spoiler angles and gear ratios are dictated to crews and closely monitored by officials.
Many of the mandates are passed down in the name of cost savings. But the reality is, mega-teams support tightening of the rules because it actually takes more money to find the most minute of advantages. The big teams have engineering staffs to find those advantages.
There is very little room for creativity. And there is little chance of a smaller team with a good idea to beat the power house organizations.
As it stands right now with the current rules structure, there will never be another set ofÂ virtual unknowns like Bill Elliott and his brothers to emerge and take on the ‘big boys’. There will never be another self-made loner like Alan Kulwicki to win a championship by outsmarting the top teams. Current rules won’t allow for either of those scenarios to be repeated.
I hope we never see a day in which NASCAR becomes another version of IROC. That series went under for a reason. Unfortunately, it seems as if the leaders of the sport are taking it in that direction under the guise of making it fair for everyone and controlling the cost of racing.
If it does ever get to that point, this blog may be renamed BaseballWithRich.
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