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DATE News (chronologically)
09/29/10
nassprint
Inspection process could blow up on NASCAR
There was a time when a NASCAR official would come into the media center after that final inspection process and either announce all cars were clear and legal or outline inequities that were found. In either case, when you left the track Sunday night it was clear who was within the rule book and who wasn't.

However, now things are different.

With the advent of the next generation Sprint Cup car, a more precise method of inspecting cars is needed, one that without delving into too much technical talk involves laser measurements and other technology that cannot be done trackside.

So now it's necessary to take vehicles back to NASCAR's Research & Development facility outside Charlotte where this high-tech equipment is housed and the proper inspection can be completed.

And as was the case with Clint Bowyer's car after his New Hampshire win two weeks ago, problems can be found at the R&D center two days after "winning" a race that will result in fines and penalties.

It muddies the waters to say the least.

While ensuring the sport is policed and competitors maintain boundaries well inside the rules is both necessary and admirable, NASCAR has to find a way to complete that process at the race track. It is simply unacceptable for teams, and more importantly fans, to wait two days after an event to know for sure if the winner was legal or not.

The procedure also sets precedent for what could conceivably be an embarrassing and most likely damaging scenario.

Suppose Johnson goes on to win this year's championship for a record fifth straight time and is crowned the king at November's season finale in Homestead. Pictures are taken, trophies are handed out and Johnson begins the annual media blitz that follows the Cup champ's clinching effort.

Fast forward two days later when NASCAR takes the car to the R&D center and finds the No. 48 Chevrolet to have the same chassis infractions uncovered on Bowyer's car with measurements off by 60/1000 of an inch. The sanctioning body has no choice but to hand out the identical 150-point penalty given to Bowyer and Johnson's tally is recalculated accordingly.

But since he won the title by only 50 markers over second-place Hamlin, the 150- point strip drops Johnson to second in the standings and 100 behind in the final count, which effectively gives the championship over to Hamlin.

That's a PR nightmare waiting to happen if NASCAR doesn't find an answer to post-event inspection plan that's now in place. CBS Sports

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