By Jared Turner
NASCAR Should Crack The Whip
Isn’t it about time that NASCAR actually take a win away from a driver and a team for flunking post-race inspection? Following a win on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Matt Kenseth failed NASCAR’s laser platform — an inspection station that measures tire camber, axle housing, alignment, rocker panels and the main frame rail. But are Kenseth and his Jason Ratcliff-led team in any real danger of losing their win after a fairly blatant rules breach? Let’s put it this way: NASCAR is about as likely to strip Kenseth of his win as Chad Knaus is to win a congeniality contest. While there almost certainly will be a penalty for the violation, it will be a relatively minor one that does nothing to deter the same thing from happening again. And, as a result, fans will continue to pay good money to watch races where the driver who crosses the finish line first has an unfair advantage over his competitors. Sounds reasonable right? It’s anything but.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. should be lauded for making his concussion-like symptoms known and choosing to take the New Hampshire race weekend off, rather than plowing ahead against his better judgment and potentially putting himself and fellow competitors at risk. While the temptation certainly must have been there to keep his medical situation a secret, NASCAR’s most popular driver – fully cognizant of the big picture – took a route that many drivers unequivocally wouldn’t have taken if placed in a similar situation. Coming clean about his symptoms was a courageous move on many levels. Let’s hope Earnhardt is rewarded by being able to return to the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet very soon and still solidifying a spot in this year’s 16-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.