NASCAR has decided not to penalize the 31 Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series teams found with illegal roof-flap spacers on their cars at Daytona International Speedway, it was announced Wednesday.
The decision comes after 16 Sprint Cup teams had spacers that support hinges to the roof flaps confiscated by officials Thursday during inspection prior to the Coke Zero 400. Later, 15 Nationwide teams were flagged for the same violation.
But why confiscate a part that is deemed illegal and not issue penalties? It was thought that because the spacers pertain to a safety element that NASCAR would issue some sort of sanction, whether points, monetary or other.
However, upon further review NASCAR declared that the spacers did not compromise the safety component of the roof flaps, which help keeps a car from getting airborne during an accident. It also determined that there was no adverse result on competition.
Thus, no penalties were handed out.
This is a change of course from prior infractions when NASCAR would not take into consideration intent or whether an illegal part provided some sort of competitive advantage.
It's easy to speculate that this may have something to do with the high-profile penalties that were issued to Penske Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing earlier this season. In both instances, the penalties were subsequently reduced and/or eradicated on appeal and called into question because of what some feel is an antiquated penalties process utilized by NASCAR.
"Moving forward we will work with the roof flap manufacturer and the race teams to evaluate and optimize the associated installation hardware, review the process in its totality and communicate in a timely manner to the garage area any revisions that we determine need to be made," NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said in a statement.
The Cup drivers found with non-compliant spacers were Aric Almirola, Marcos Ambrose, Trevor Bayne, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Martin Truex Jr. and Michael Waltrip.