CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — NASCAR will not penalize Martin Truex Jr. or Jimmie Johnson for failing inspection after the opening race of the playoffs.
Truex won Sunday’s race at Chicagoland Speedway and Johnson finished 12th. Both cars failed the laser inspection with infractions that should have drawn 10-point penalties.
Although the infractions were similar, NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell said the penalties would not have been equal. Truex advanced into the second round of the playoffs with his victory, but Johnson’s chances of advancing would have been hampered by the loss of 10 points.
O’Donnell said not penalizing either driver was the fair decision.
“If we applied those penalties, the post-race penalty really would not treat each competitor fairly,” O’Donnell said. “We also saw this as a potential situation that we could see repeating itself for the next nine races of the Chase going forward. So we made the decision coming out of Chicago not to penalize (Truex) or (Johnson) for the post-race infractions we saw in Chicago, which the industry would agree were minor in nature.”
NASCAR didn’t budge, though, on the penalties for missing lug nuts. The crew chiefs for Aric Almirola and Greg Biffle were each penalized $10,000 for not having properly installed lug nuts at Chicago. Drew Blickensderfer (Almirola) and Brian Pattie (Biffle) were both hit with P3 penalties on NASCAR’s scale.
Also, all 16 teams in the Chase will go through the laser inspection after this Sunday’s race at New Hampshire. Only nine were inspected at Chicagoland.
“When we talked to the drivers and the teams shouldn’t all 16 (Chase) go through there and that’s a very fair point as well,” O’Donnell said. “Going forward that will be part of our post-race inspection as well. If we have a field of 16, all cars will go through post-race LIS and go down to 12, eight and four.”
NASCAR is trying to set defined guidelines for penalties to avoid teams manipulating the system to their advantage.
“We don’t want to be talking about post-race penalties,” O’Donnell said. “Our goal is to never have to penalize anybody and we want to just talk about the action on the track. We felt like that this is hopefully enough of a deterrent not to have teams go there and also to be very up front as to what the consequence would be.”