NASCAR adds disqualifications to officiating procedures in 2019
Story By: Reid Spencer/NASCAR
Photos By: Dan DeMarco & George Steigerwalt/RacersGuide.com
CONCORD, N.C. – In a move that is both dramatic and emphatic, NASCAR announced on Monday that, for the first time as an official policy, cars will be subject to disqualification for post-race inspection failures.
And NASCAR will declare the official winner of races in its top three national series before leaving the track on race day.
“We’re changing the culture,” NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell said during a meeting with reporters at the NASCAR Research & Development Center. “Going forward, post-race inspection will take place at the track…
“If the first-place car has any penalties, that car will be disqualified. Second place will receive all the benefits of winning that race.”
That marks a sea change in NASCAR’s approach to the inspection and officiating process. The disqualified car and driver will receive last-place points and money and will lose all stage points and bonus points accrued during the race.
No longer will the penalized driver appear in the record books as the race winner in name only. NASCAR also will inspect the second-place car and a random car, but the inspections of the top two cars will conclude at the race track, with the winner announced soon thereafter.
O’Donnell said the at-track process would take approximately 90 minutes beyond the conclusion of the event.
The new policy is a move by NASCAR to discourage in no uncertain terms infractions designed to give one team an undeserved advantage over another.
“We’ve made it very clear to the teams over the last six months that this is where we’re headed,” O’Donnell said. “Let’s do stuff right. Let’s concentrate on the best drivers in the world going out there and beating each other on the track versus the wind tunnel. We think this is going to do that.”
Instead of roving inspectors who rotate between the top three series, NASCAR is creating dedicated teams for each of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Gander Outdoors Truck Series. In addition, the inspection process won’t be confined to specific times and stations but will be an ongoing process throughout the race weekend.
“Inspection is going to be open all the time,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition. “With the inspectors in the garage, we will be inspecting cars all the time. It won’t be just during the official inspections.
“When we find something wrong—and it’s been in the rule book, but we’re going to use it this year—if you bring illegal parts, and we make you take them off, you’re going to be issued an L1 penalty right there at the race track. We have to stop this. We tried to do it a little softer, but it didn’t work, so we’re going to try a new approach.
“You can’t unload your car with illegal stuff on it—period.”
Clearly, the greatest potential jeopardy lies in post-race inspection, given the possibility of disqualification. But that prospect doesn’t apply to one or two loose lug nuts, which are treated separately in the rule book. Three loose lugs, however, rise to the level of an L1 penalty and bring disqualification.
NASCAR is taking this approach as it begins to develop its next generation of race car—the Gen-7—which O’Donnell expects to have on the track in 2021. The expectation is that the new car will feature greater brand identity, something that both existing and potential new OEMs should find appealing.
O’Donnell said NASCAR’s goal is to get to five manufacturers in the sport.
The Gen-7 almost certainly will feature a composite body, O’Donnell said, given the success and positive feedback the sanctioning body has received from the introduction of composites in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.