By admin | December 8, 2013
By Richard Allen
Chase Elliott won the Snowball Derby at the Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla. on Sunday… or so it seemed. During post-race technical inspection, the second generation driver’s car was found to be illegal and he was striped of the victory in the prestigious short track event.
Many short track sanctioning bodies and tracks employ the same policy of disqualifying race winners when violations are found in post-race tear downs.
Elliott’s car had tungsten weights placed in its frame where only lead weights are allowed. Race cars often do not meet the minimum weight standards on their own and must have weights added to the frame in order meet those requirements. Tungsten is heavier than lead, which would allow for a team to more strategically place the weights and create better handling of the car. Sanctioning bodies disallow tungsten in order to keep costs down because that material is far more expensive than lead.
If a Sprint Cup driver’s car were found to have such an infraction, the driver and team would get to keep their win and trophy but would be hit with a fine and a points reduction a few days later. This has been standard practice in NASCAR for years.
After a 1978 race in Atlanta had its winner flip flopped multiple times in the hours following the event due to a scoring snafu, NASCAR has made it policy that fans and competitors will know who the race winner was when they leave the track. That means race winning cars found to be in violation of the rules are scored as the victor even though the points and earnings may not reflect such.
That policy may have been appropriate two or three decades ago. However, it has grown obsolete in these modern times.
Had a race win been taken down in the 1980s, the results of such a move might be buried in the back of a newspaper days after the fact. It would have been a realistic possibility that some fans who attended the event might never know such a decision was made. However, in today’s social media driven society, many fans would be aware of such a change before they even walked through the front door of their homes that night.
It seems silly to have the “winner” of a race score fewer points than drivers who finished outside the top-10.
Set the standards each car is expected to meet. In some areas, such as fender heights, small tolerances might be made to allow for the wear and tear of an event. Then let it be known to drivers, crew chiefs and owners that if they choose to play within those areas of tolerances, they run the risk of outright disqualification.
It would probably be remarkable how many fewer times cars fail post-race tech if such a policy were put in place.
In the opinion of this writer, races such as the Snowball Derby have it right. If a car fails inspection, it and its driver do not deserve to be labeled as winners. NASCAR needs to adopt that same policy.
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