Admitting its rules were unfair, NASCAR in a rare reversal announced Wednesday it will not penalize championship contenders Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson for failing technical inspection following Sunday's race at Chicagoland Speedway.
Both Truex and Johnson had their cars exceed the maximum measurements when going through the Laser Inspector Station. Truex won the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400, while Johnson finished 12th, and each was seemingly facing a penalty involving points deductions and fines.
But the penalties would've minimally impacted Truex, who would have been allowed to keep his win and automatically transfer to Round 2 of NASCAR's playoffs, whereas Johnson would have suffered considerably had he been docked 10 points, dropping him into a three-way tie for the last transfer position. Both drivers are among 16 who qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup
Seeing the unfairness of the new rules system put in place just last week, NASCAR retroactively amended its policy. Going forward NASCAR will increase the threshold for what constitutes a car failing postrace inspection, but any team exceeding the limit will face greater sanctions -- the loss of 35 points, a $65,000 fine, and any driver winning a race with an illegal car cannot use that win to advance to the subsequent Chase round.
"We recognized if we were to apply those penalties as we listed them out for the event, those penalties would not have the same impact on the competitors based on the Chase format and the increased emphasis on win bonuses [to advance]," NASCAR executive vice president Steve O'Donnell said.
"If you look back as to why we created the deterrent system we put in place to insure that we had a level playing field for all 40 cars that were competing in the event and in this case, if we applied those penalties, the postrace penalty would not really treat each competitor fairly."
Additionally, NASCAR will now have the cars for all Chase drivers go through the LIS postrace. Previously, only the top-five finishers and select others were inspected. Furthermore, drivers will no longer be permitted to swerve on the cool-down lap or make contact with another car; both acts are seen as a way to interfere with the inspection process.