Shifting & Drifting: NASCAR Chase Nonsense

NASCAR kicked off it’s 2016 ‘Chase for the Cup’ at Chicagoland Speedway last weekend. The best promoter for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 was (as usual), a non-Chase driver:


The actual race was a microcosm of the entire 2016 NASCAR season, as Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) Toyota’s were the fastest cars in the field.  Martin Truex, Jr. (#78) is not officially affiliated with JGR, but his Furniture Row Racing team receives plenty of support and he is considered a ‘5th driver’ for Gibbs Racing.


The story on Sunday was #78 dominance on the track, then its failing the post-race laser inspection station (LIS).   The LIS measures tolerances for aerodynamics of the car  body, which are set by NASCAR.  Jimmie Johnson (#48 Hendricks Racing) also failed post-race LIS.  Under the existing rules, as ‘P2’ penalty would have to have been enforced on both drivers, with the 10-point deduction being more severe for Johnson, who would have been in immediate danger of missing the next round of cuts in the Chase.


NASCAR couldn’t let that happen to one of their most-popular drivers, so it changed the rules (again) in the middle of the season to clear both Martin Truex, Jr & Jimmie Johnson.  This is the final NASCAR penalty report from Chicagoland 2016:


As you can (or can’t) see, #16 Greg Biffle & #43 Aric Almirola (both non-Chase drivers) were assessed the severest sanctions, P3 penalties for a missing lug nut and a broken stud.  Newly-modified rules on lug nuts are already being pushed to (and past) their limits by many teams.  Six to eight cars are chosen at random for post-race inspection. How random, is anyone’s guess?  If every car was inspected after every race, surely more than half wouldn’t pass an inspection at this point.


NASCAR just announced that it will change its post-race inspection penalty structure for infractions stemming from the LIS, eliminating the P2 and P3 levels for those violations. The P4 level for LIS infractions remains, and violations at this level will remain “encumbered.”  NASCAR is the only sport I know that constantly changes its rules during its regular & play-off season.  [1]

NASCAR defines the concept of an ‘encumbered victory,’ meaning a driver would keep the trophy but would lose the other benefits of a win, meaning it would not ensure advancement to the next round of the Chase.  The idea is to discourage blatant infractions of the rules, but still allow cheating at a certain level. The drivers and their teams are already two steps ahead of this NASCAR rule-tweaking, you can be sure. [2]


Note that having the fastest car doesn’t make Truex the best driver. Not by a long-shot. Check out his performance in NASCAR ScanAll starting at 2:45.  [3]

2:45: #78 Martin Truex Jr. (the fastest car all day) crawls up her ass and exclaims, “Get that (expletive) #10 car out of the way. I want the bottom.”
2:48: #10 Danica Patrick (at the top of the track, up against the wall) says to her spotter, “I give these guys the bottom lane and it just confuses them I think.”

She’s correct, and once again proven a better driver than the race winner (and current Chase leader); she just has no speed in her team or car. Typical NASCAR nonsense, and this is how some people feel about them and their HQ in Charlotte right now: