As the weekend in Chicago wrapped news of two teams failing post race inspection were in the air. The teams were that of the race winner Martin Truex Jr. and the 48 of Jimmie Johnson who finished 12th. Tuesday news broke from NASCAR Headquarters that no fines or penalties would be assisted to either team. Here lies the question of Is NASCAR playing Favorites?
NASCAR announced Tuesday that they would be increasing the tolerances checked in the pre and post race laser inspection station. Both infractions involved the rear end alignment. Truex’s infraction was by .01 and Jonson’s by .12. It has been well known that a lot of teams have been struggling with the laser station. Here is how it works.
NASCAR’s laser inspection platform, in place since the Daytona 500 in February, makes NASCAR racing a game of 1/1000th of an inch literally.
The platform use, which is built much like the inspection stations used to weigh the cars, adds a degree of precision to the process that the sport has been looking for. Using RFID chips already installed on the chassis by officials at NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, N.C., the platform orients the chassis to the precise position that it was when it received its certification from the sanctioning body.
By way of review, each team submits its race chassis to NASCAR prior to building out the car. The chassis have the Radio Frequency Identification tags fitted to them in specified locations given by the sanctioning body, and these are then used to map the chassis.
The data is stored via computer and cataloged by teams.
For years, there were hardly any electronics involved in NASCAR, save the Pi Research telemetry packages the teams used to gather data from testing.
With the new platform, it’s easier than it sounds.
As the car rolls onto it, the RFID chip is picked up by the computer and referenced with the stored data. The platform’s brain scans the library of certified cars for the proper chassis and compares its placement on the platform to its position when it was mapped the first time.
If it notices a discrepancy, it adjusts the car to match the position exactly.
If you’ve noticed the cars in the tech line, they all have white wheel caps on. These hold the connectors by which the platform moves the car.
Once in place, measurements are conducted, and the platform can do up to 40 measurements, such as camber on the front and rear wheels, wheelbase and the location of the rear axle.
Much attention has been paid to the “gray area” where Team Penske was playing with the rear-end housing earlier this year. The platform found the “improvements” made by the team and called them out.
“There is no other system like this used in any other form of racing”
I agree with the expiation of the tolerances. However teams have been penalized all year referring to the failure of this station, by as little as seen at Chicago.
During the regular season per say teams that were found in violation were receiving warnings to start, if repeated they were receiving 10 points and a 25,000 dollar fine, and crew chief placed on probation.
How ever with the announcement Tuesday NASCAR stated that the change would be retroactive to the Chicago race.
In a statement released by NASCAR vice president Steve O’Donnell he said that the decision was made to make all penalties “equitable”. I feel as if this was not the case. I feel as if it was made to cater to the individuals effected. Multiple teams prior to the chase received this infraction and it affected their ability to run for the chase. Well the penalty would really not affected Martin Truex Jr. because of the race win. It would have affected Jimmy Jonhson and his team. The 12th place finish as it stands puts Jimmy in the 8th spot in the chase. The 10 point infraction would have moved Jimmie to the bump spot 12th for the chase. After all what’s a chase with out Jimmie?
At times it has seemed NASCAR has played favorites, as pointed out by Kyle Busch multiple times. I feel that this is another display of that. If you want to change the tolerances then change them. Don’t make the change retroactive to cover because you want a certain car or driver in the chase. The rule should have stood and NASCAR delt with it the way they have all year, then in the off season make the change. It’s the only fair way to deal with it.
What are your thoughts did NASCAR maybe play favorites?