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Time to Make Punishment Fit the Crime? YES!

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Denny Hamlin raced like a hero at Darlington Raceway over the weekend, scoring dramatic late-race victories in both the NASCAR XFINITY and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at the historic South Carolina track.

There’s just one problem: Both of his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas flunked post-race inspections, so Hamlin had both victories kinda, sorta taken away.

Hamlin’s two wins, like the one Joey Logano scored at Richmond in the spring were considered “encumbered,” which means they stand in the record book, but don’t count towards the playoffs. In Hamlin’s case, he loses the 5 playoff points he got for winning the race.

In Logano’s case, he’s probably not going to make NASCAR’s playoffs because he doesn’t have an unencumbered victory, like Hamlin does. Oh, and in case you’re keeping score at home, Logano’s Darlington XFINITY finish was also encumbered for Team Penske monkeying with the rear suspension on his Ford, the same exact infraction found on both of Hamlin’s Toyotas.

Both Hamlin and Logano received what NASCAR calls “L1” penalties, its most serious offense.

Well, guess what? It isn’t enough. NASCAR keeps handing out penalties, teams keep breaking the rules. It’s time to hit teams where it hurts.

We’ve reached the point where sterner measures are warranted. My suggestion? Any team caught with an L1 penalty doesn’t get to compete in the next race. It’s simple, clear and unambiguous.

Will that stop the shenanigans? Maybe, maybe not. But something clearly needs to be done and done soon or the problem is only going to get worse.

Tom Jensen

Tom Jensen is a veteran motorsports journalist. He spent 13 years with FOXSports.com, where he was Digital Content Manager. Previously, he was executive editor of NASCAR Scene and managing editor of National Speed Sport News. Jensen served as the president of the National Motorsports Press Association and is the group’s former Writer of the Year.