NASCAR has a longstanding practice of never taking away a national series win, even if the offending party is found to have committed a rules infraction during post-race inspection.
The belief of the sanctioning body is that fans deserve to know who won the race the moment the checkered flag flies. They prefer not to have the outcome lingering in the balance until post-race inspection has been completed, which can sometimes be up to a couple of hours after the race has ended.
In an ideal world, this makes sense. But is that the way it should be? Should a driver really be credited with a win they may not have deserved?
Using any measure of common sense, this seems illogical. A team is caught for playing outside the predetermined perimeters every other team is supposed to abide by, and yet the offending party is allowed to reap the bulk of the rewards?
Take last weekend for example, when Austin Dillon took the next step in his skyrocketing career by winning his first Nationwide Series in absolute dominant fashion at Kentucky. That night, last year's Truck Series champion led 192 of a possible 200 laps and won by nearly 10 seconds – an almost unheard-of margin in this day and age.
However, that elation and feeling of accomplishment was short-lived, as Dillon's No. 3 Chevrolet failed post-race inspection for being too low.
What was supposed to be a career-defining moment instead became a blemish in the record book, as NASCAR on Monday announced various penalties for the infraction – among them a six-point penalty for Dillon and $10,000 fine for crew chief Danny Stockman Jr.
"It's a bummer, you go from such a high – but it's still a high," Dillon said Thursday at Daytona International Speedway. "We celebrated just like we won the race. We're still the winner."
I don't know about you, but six points and $10,000 doesn't seem like much of a deterrent to me, especially when you consider Dillon walked away with a winner's check for a little over $97,000. It would make sense if NASCAR wanted to put a little bite in their penalties that they would be best served taking the win away and the money that goes with it.
The sad thing is the biggest loser in all this is Dillon himself. Because as anyone who has watched a Nationwide race this season knows, it was only a matter of time before the grandson of Richard Childress broke through and scored his maiden series win.
After all, winning your first race is supposed to be special. It's supposed to signal a new beginning where a driver joins the ranks of the elite.
But can this really be true when the victory was achieved by dubious means?
Dillon, when asked this very question, is of the belief that the win is still just as meaningful.
"For a few minutes it was like that and then I got over it because I knew that (being low) didn't help me – having that go wrong hurt us," Dillon said. "And this was justified even more when we got back to the shop and we looked at it and (proved) it made us slower.
"Maybe for a minute though getting the news, because you knew what was going to happen with everybody: Half the people were going to say, ‘Oh it helped him or whatever.' The real racers know what it did and that's the ones that really matter to me."
The reality however, is that Dillon's triumph will always be clouded in suspicion. And this is without question, and I can't imagine that's the way any driver wants his first win to be remembered.
Then again, maybe this is much ado about nothing and I'm simply making a mountain out of a molehill. If that's the case, just fine me six points – as that will surely teach me a lesson I'll never forget.