Friday, August 22, 2008

Did the Joe Gibbs Racing #18 and #20 Nationwide Series penalties fit the crime?


Photo Credit:
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
for NASCAR via NASCAR PR)
After Joe Gibbs Racing basically dominating most of the Nationwide Series races this season with 14 wins, a month ago NASCAR issued a technical bulletin with an engine rule change and while I applaud NASCAR in finally noticing that there is a problem in the Nationwide Series with trying to put all of the teams on equal footing after the Joe Gibbs Racing #18 and #20 Toyotas have had their way in the series, this engine rule change isn’t exactly what I was thinking, I would have preferred instead of penalizing the Toyotas, why not just allow the other three manufacturers (Chevrolet, Ford and Dodge) to bring some new parts or even like Chevy a new engine to the series so they can step up even further, what a handy cap for all of the Toyotas and it was just JGR that was the problem. (Read more…)

That’s what I wrote last month following the engine rules change, however also in that piece, I wrote that it most likely wouldn’t have made a difference at Michigan, well, here’s where part two comes into play. At Michigan, both Toyotas were racing for the lead and while #20-Tony Stewart would finish 3rd and #18-Joey Logano would finish 7th, the problem after the race - while NASCAR was trying to chassis dyno both cars, officials found magnets under the gas petals, which wouldn’t allow the dyno to read the true horsepower number.

Interesting way to hide the fact that the JGR Toyotas has found away to get back almost all of the horsepower they lost with the engine rule change, however while I disagree with NASCAR’s rules change, a huge penalty against Joe Gibbs Racing’s #18 & #20 teams is exactly what they deserve and they received a penalty on last Wednesday morning:

#18 – Joey Logano docked 150 driver points, placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31, 2008, JGR docked 150 owner points, crew chief fined $50,000, car chief, engine tuner and one crew member have all been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR and the entire No. 18 NASCAR Nationwide Series teams have been placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31, 2008.

#20 – Tony Stewart docked 150 driver points, placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31, 2008, JGR docked 150 owner points, crew chief fined $50,000, car chief and engine tuner have all been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR and the entire No. 20 NASCAR Nationwide Series teams have been placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31, 2008.

So the question now is, does both penalties fit the crime? Before you answer that question, I would like you to keep an open mind and remember that this is the Nationwide Series, completely different penalties from the Cup Series and this penalty was at the level of the what a Cup Series team would receive with the exception of a $50k fine would be $100k. Also, what if another team like the #60, #2, #88 and so on received this penalty, did it fit the crime now (all of those teams are running for the drivers and owners, while the #20 is only running for the owners championship…

With that said, when it comes to the drivers, Joey Logano and Tony Stewart, nope, this had nothing to do with the race itself, their penalties should be taken away. I wouldn’t believe for one moment that either driver could have known about this, it handy capped their race, driver’s race to win.

However I don’t agree with the rest of the penalty too, basically the way I see it, this penalty to me has nothing to do with money or points, and it has everything to do with sending a message to everyone in the garage area that this blatten cheating will not be tolerated and if you do anything like this, you will be parked.

So, what does this penalty send? This penalty hurts two drivers who had nothing to do with it (Joey Logano just starting his NASCAR National series career and yes, he will still be a winner), also sends the two crew chiefs, car chiefs and engine tuners home, but for how long? 6 races, rest of the season, until 2010, what? (Rest of the season would be a start), a fine that JGR can pay , but it also made JGR’s season with 14 wins look worthless and casts a shadow on JGR themselves, however…

Now as for what I would have preferred, how about parking the #18 and #20 teams (not drivers) for one race, the crew chief, car chief and engine tuner on both cars should have been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR (At least until Daytona 2009), no fine. That sends a message to everyone, no team likes not qualifying for a race, it hurts watching from the sidelines, imagine being told by NASCAR to not come to the race and see you in a week… that hurts period, just ask driver, team, sponsor or owner. Well, now let’s see what the rest of the season looks like. Comments.

- Racedriven