NASCAR resets the rules: Cheaters must beware
FEB 16, 2014 1:00p ET
After many months of investigatations, research, discussion and reflection, last week NASCAR put a code system into place for NASCAR infractions, It is a tiered Penalty 1 to Penalty 6 type platform with the goal making it more streamlined and efficient so that the teams easily know what to expect if they get their hand caught in the cookie jar, so to speak.
I was fortunate to be part of a NASCAR meeting last week and it went over this new 2014 penalty system. I'll be the first to say I was really kind of blown away. If anyone knows my history and background, they know I was one of those that liked to push the NASCAR legal envelope and step over the edge, well lets say, occasionally. Dabbling in the gray was pretty much the norm but in the spirit of fair disclosure, I dabbled in the black.
Back in our heyday it was a lot of fun to attempt to match wits with the NASCAR officials when it was pretty well accepted that you tried what you wanted to try and they tried catching you at it. Clearly those days are gone. Todays standards reflect nothing from my time back in the day. This new system they have in place is definitely a reflection of that.
In reviewing this new system, I see there are areas, where if caught, you can still get your hands slapped but still not lose anything major. What you see overall with the Penalty 1 to Penalty 6 is actually pretty easy to understand. Like I mentioned, the initial lower level penalties and notifications are somewhat basic. A simplistic example would be Mom not letting you have computer time if you didn't clean your room.
What is glaring is when you get up into the higher ranges of the penalty, well that's when you see they aren't kidding. Actually they aren't kidding at all. They are dead-damn serious. The signal is pretty clear that once you bring that car to the race track well the gray area is gone. It's all black and white.
Now if you make a mistake, or purposely tried to pull something and get caught, by NASCAR, well you know exactly what you are going to lose. There is no more arbitrary type of deal. No it falls back to the owners, drivers, crew chiefs, engineers etc to sit down and weigh out the Risk/Reward. Trust me on this one, with today's new penalty platform, the risk is ever so much greater than the reward.
I believe NASCAR has finally cleared up all that muddy water, if you will, on what you can expect from a penalty situation if you are busted trying to play outside the lines. The subjective and arbitrary areas are gone. Now it's crystal clear -- you cross the line here and your penalty is this. Again, this goes from just getting your hand slapped for something minor, all the way to the top where you lose points, have personnel suspended and also lose hundreds of thousands of dollars.
NASCAR has also revised the Appeal Board and structure of it. I liken this new judge they have in place to an old famous Western judge -- Judge Parker -- the Hanging Judge. This is clearly a total different system than what we've see in the past. It's now more than every crystal clear that if you try to circumvent the rules, especially in a very big way, NASCAR is going to call down the thunder onto you.