NASCAR Strikes Back
by Adam Sewell
May 31, 2002

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Mark Martin won the million dollar bonus, but crew chief Ben Leslie was fined $50,000.
Photo: Ford/Wieck

In case you haven't heard by now, NASCAR has fined another team for failing the post race inspection. This time they struck against Ben Leslie, crew chief for Mark Martin and the #6 team. Leslie was fined $50,000 for the #6 car being 1/8th inch too low at the roof height. The roof height is measured 10 inches back from the top of the windshield. This penalty is getting all too frequent and I think NASCAR needs to cut the teams some slack, or at least keep the fines consistent across the board. 

Last October at Talladega, the #8 team was fined $25,000 for being 1/8th too low. At Rockingham earlier this season, Matt Kenseth's #17 team was fined $30,000 for being 1/4 inch low. This past weekend after the Busch series event, Kevin Grubb's team was fined $22,500 for having their roof height 1/4 inch too low, twice as low as the #8 and #6 teams, but less than half the penalty issued to Ben Leslie. Then when you consider that Grubb's team won only $21,550 in the race, hindsight makes you wonder if some of the teams should just stay at home instead of having their hard-fought winnings taken away from them. 

Mark Martin out raced teammate Matt Kenseth to win the 600 in Charlotte.
Photo: Ford/Wieck

Charlotte Motor Speedway is one of the bumpiest tracks on the NASCAR circuit. Then when you add the fact that this past weekend's Winston Cup race was 600 miles; the suspension, springs, and shocks are going to give a little. And of course with the race going from day to night, the teams are forced to adjust on the wedge bolts, which could also change the overall height of the car. What's the difference in a car being too low because of the suspension settling and adjustments, and a car being too narrow because it brushed the wall? None. 

Of course, NASCAR can't do away with the rule, but if there is no mechanical device that was designed to lower the car to give it an advantage, then cut the teams some slack. Obviously, the slack would have to end somewhere, for instance if the car was an entire inch too low, that'd be a little much. Maybe give the teams 3/8 to 1/2 inch of leeway for the post-race inspection, not the pre-race inspection. If the car passes pre-race, but it's too low after the race, and there is no foul play involved, give the teams some flexibility. 

Just once, I'd like for NASCAR to check every car after a race like the 600 and see how many of the cars are too low. Come on NASCAR, you're a sanctioning body, not the IRS.

The author can be contacted nascar@autoracing1.com

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Others by Adam

NASCAR Strikes Back

The Price Of Chemistry 05/23/02

Enter The Iron Man 05/15/02

Here Come the Night Races 05/03/02

Early Surprises on the Tour

Can a team get a bigger restrictor plate

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