NASCAR announced Monday a surprising rule change that will now see race winners disqualified if they fail post-race inspection.
The new rule will be enforced in all three national series.
That’s a dramatic change from the long-standing rule previously in place that penalized an offending race winner with fines, suspensions and/or points deductions, but still allowed the victory to stand. NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. instilled a belief that fans should leave the race track knowing the winner, but now fans won’t know for up to two hours after the race is completed.
“I think for us, we’re really looking at a total culture change,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer, via NASCAR.com. “We’ve been through a deterrence model where we’ve really worked with the race teams at the track and probably been more lenient than we should in terms of the number of times teams can go through inspection and pass, fail and there’s almost incentive to try to get something by NASCAR, so we want to really reverse that trend.
“We’re going to put it on the teams to bring their equipment right. When they come to the track, we’ll be much less lenient as they go through technical inspection with stiffer penalties in terms of qualifying, and then ultimately during the race, obviously we want everyone to be racing straight up.”
The new system will also accelerate the time it takes for thorough post-race inspections. They will now take place immediately following the checkered flag instead of midweek at the NASCAR Research & Development Center.
In the new system, the first- and second-place finishers and at least one randomly selected car will undergo a post-race inspection at the track. The targeted time frame is anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours, and once the inspection is complete a winner will be announced.
If one of those cars does fail inspection, the driver and team will receive last-place points while the rest of the finishing order would move up.
The disqualified team or teams would also be stripped of playoff points, stage points and automatic postseason berths and playoff advancement that would have come with the win.