Up On The Roof

Well, there seems to be a lot of people up in arms after Wednesday’s announcement by NASCAR that there would be no penalties for the roof flap spacers that were found to be out of spec during last weekend’s Daytona inspection.

You have to keep in mind that it was the spacer that was the issue, not the roof flap itself. Engines, tires, fuel are the three basic sacred areas that the teams know they will pay a steep penalty for messing around in. When you get to a place like Daytona and Talladega, the roof flaps also go to the top of that “do not touch” list. You simply don’t attempt to alter the roof flap at a superspeedway track at all. That’s sacred.

The spacer itself is part of the roof-flap kit. We’re talking about two pieces of aluminum that you might have to shorten or lengthen anyway so that the roof flap fits into the roof properly. Automatically you are going to work on the spacer.

NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton allowed that this same spacer had been in the kit for quite some time. While Robin never used the word obsolete, the point he was trying to make was maybe it was simply outdated.

Look, if one team gets caught doing something wrong, then obviously they are trying to circumvent a particular rule. The same applies if you have three or four teams busted for a rule infraction. It’s when you have 31 teams caught with the same issue, then that’s a red flag that there is more to it.

If you walked over to the NASCAR trailer as I did to look at all the spacers they put on display after confiscating them from the teams, you would have been amazed at the diversity in them. They were all over the place. Some had taken the spacers that come with the kit and drilled holes in it. Some had built a whole brand new spacer.

You have to remember that we aren’t talking about really that much weight-gain savings. You are only talking at most two to four pounds. That’s insignificant on a superspeedway car.

You have to imagine that theses spacers up until this point weren’t being checked that closely. The main concern when checking the roof flap area is does the roof flap open and close properly? If it does that and the cables are adjusted correctly, then you move on.

Evidently an inspector noticed that one of the teams might have gotten a little too creative with their spacers and it became a major red flag. Then they began taking a much closer look at all the cars. By the way, in total there were 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup cars and 15 NASCAR Nationwide cars found to have altered spacers.

This probably was something that has been in place for a long, long time and something NASCAR hadn’t been checking. With the new Generation-6 cars it might have been one of those items that needed to be altered but hadn’t caught anyone’s attention. Guess what? It’s now caught NASCAR’s attention.

It had no affect on the operation of the roof flap. We’ve had no roof flap failures all year long. Those things are working to perfection. It had no affect on the performance of the roof flap or the car. It’s pretty much insignificant.

However, because it’s now been brought to everyone’s attention it was a pretty big deal in Daytona. I think NASCAR handled this situation perfectly and didn’t over-react. They took some of the blame and the teams took some of the blame. There will now be a standardized piece for everyone to use from now on.

Robin addressed that in his statement Wednesday when he said, “It was our determination that the functionality and safety aspects of the roof flaps were not compromised and the on track competition would not be impacted. Moving forward we will work with the roof flap manufacturer and the race teams to evaluate and optimize the associated installation hardware, review the process in its totality and communicate in a timely manner to the garage area any revisions that we determine need to be made.”

It really was no harm-no foul, the way I see it. I think NASCAR made a really wise decision. They didn’t fine anybody or take away any points. The issue has been addressed and being resolved. This should make everything for the better. I really like it when NASCAR works with the teams on a situation like this.

There is a lot of harmony in the garage area between NASCAR and the teams, more actually than I think fans realize. The decision Wednesday by NASCAR not to levy fines on points penalties is a really good indication of that.