Did NASCAR Make Right Decision to Not Penalize Teams for Roof Flap Spacers at Daytona?
After expecting NASCAR to announce a ton of penalties on Tuesday afternoon, there was a rather quiet atmosphere throughout the sport during the week. Usually, the sanctioning body announces penalties from race weekend on Tuesday. However, this situation was very different from any other.
In the past, the restrictor plate races have always caused havoc. NASCAR teams always attempt to edge out the competition by making the cars as light as possible while maintaining the restrictions from the sport. At the Daytona International Speedway last weekend, NASCAR teams seemed to slightly go over the restrictions for something that could be considered as a safety issue.
16 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams, as well as 15 NASCAR Nationwide Series teams, were found to have illegal roof flap spacers. The spacers, which were confiscated from these teams, caused chaos throughout the weekend and much speculation that major penalties were in the works. Roof flaps are on the cars to stop cars from spinning out of control and flipping over. Though it does not fully stop cars from flipping, it helps majorly, especially at a place like Daytona.
Most of the teams were barely out of the requirement zone for the roof flap spacers, but NASCAR knew this could give teams an advantage. Even the smallest ounce of weight loss on a car could give a team a thousandth-of-a-second advantage, which could be an extra spot in qualifying or an extra boost in the draft. Apparently, NASCAR has found that penalties aren’t necessary. The sanctioning body feels that there wasn’t enough of an advantage for the teams to do this intentionally and it likely wouldn’t have made that much of a risk safety wise.
Yet, NASCAR knows that the reason for the malfunctions likely came from the manufacturer, which makes the roof flaps. In a press release, the sport says that they’re going to attempt to work with the company along with the teams to straighten things out. This could be a bad sign for NASCAR as they may be losing trust from teams. With nearly half of the field nearly being penalized, the sport could have been faced with major criticism and they were clearly wise to avoid just that.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.