It’s not cheating until and unless you get caught.
That’s the mantra for all of motorsports and it seems to prevail in series where there isn’t much of a “spec” car or engine. Although NASCAR’s Cup Series has morphed to a Next Gen car for the 2022 season, there are still aspects of the car that can get caught in that gray area where team managers, engineers, and smart crew chiefs prevail.
Such was the case this past weekend where, after the NASCAR Cup Series completed its M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 at the Tricky Triangle, Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. Initially, Denny Hamlin secured the win from pole position in his No. 11 Toyota, taking his third victory of the 2022 season, with Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch in second place.
After both cars had been inspected, the finishing order changed, with Chase Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet taking the victory and Tyler Reddick’s Richard Childress Racing Chevy in second place. Everyone behind them moved up a couple of positions, giving third to Daniel Suarez (Chevy), Christopher Bell’s Toyota in fourth and Kyle Larson’s Chevy fifth. Michael McDowell (Ford), Martin Truex Jr. and Bubba Wallace in Toyotas, Erik Jones and Austin Dillon’s Chevys completed the official top-10 finishing order.
What was the problem with those two top-finishing cars? Apparently, both of their front fascias were the issue. NASCAR’s Cup Series managing director Brad Moran explained, “There was some issues discovered that affect aero of the vehicle. The part was the front fascia. And there was really no reason why there was some material that was somewhere that it should have been, and that does basically come down to a DQ,” Moran said.
Both the No. 11 and the No. 18 were loaded into a NASCAR hauler and taken to the sanctioning body’s Charlotte-area research and development center for further evaluation, but Moran did note that no further penalties were warranted. “We saw enough that the DQ was warranted and we are bringing the vehicles back for further evaluation.” He said his team would inspect both Toyota race cars further when they were returned to the R&D center.
By Monday morning, Joe Gibbs Racing had evaluated the situation and elected not to appeal the two disqualifications. Wally Brown, the team’s director of competition made this statement: “In our review of the post-race infractions on the 11 and 18 cars at Pocono, it was discovered that a single piece of clear tape was positioned over each of the lower corners of the front fascia ahead of the left-front and right-front wheel openings on both those cars.
“The added pieces were 2 inches wide and 5-1/2 inches long, with a thickness of 0.012 inches, and installed under the wrap,” Brown explained. “This change in our build process was not properly vetted within our organization and we recognize it is against NASCAR’s rules. We apologize to everyone for this mistake, and we have made changes to our processes to ensure that it does not happen again.”
The NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series are in action this weekend on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 2.439-mile, 14-corner road course, together with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series as well as its ARCA Menards Series are racing on the Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park (IRP) oval this weekend, just a few miles away. The races at IMS are being broadcast by NBC, while FS1 is tackling the broadcast duties for both the NCWTS and ARCA races.
Annie’s coverage & quotes are the best I’ve seen.
And that dopy piece of tape aloud to win the race! Got it!