Remember the awkward coincidence of NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick being in the television booth when a driver he called a spoon-fed rich kid intentionally wrecked someone under caution? Well, that kid got no fines or penalties for it. Instead, NASCAR served up penalties to drivers whose cars failed inspection.
The drivers who actually got fines from the weekend at Phoenix International Raceway were Brad Keselowski and, oddly enough, Harvick. Both drivers’ race finishes in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ Camping World 500, fifth for Keselowski and sixth for Harvick, are now labeled as “encumbered” by NASCAR. That means they won’t get any playoff points for the finishes.
Keselowski’s race car failed post-race inspection in Phoenix for its suspension having too much rear steer, and the resulting penalties from NASCAR are the encumbered finish, a $65,000 fine and three-race suspension to his crew chief, and the loss of 35 driver points and 35 owner points in the championship.
The Harvick car was the random selection to go to the NASCAR research and development center after the race, and that team got the hammer put on them when NASCAR found an unapproved track bar assembly. Harvick’s crew chief will pay $25,000 and miss a race, and his Stewart-Haas Racing team will lose 10 owner points and 10 driver points.
Meanwhile, Harvick’s favorite kid who ran another driver into a wall on purpose is doing just fine. No penalties there, no siree!
The driver whom NASCAR let completely off the hook was Austin Dillon, who intentionally wrecked Xfinity Series regular Cole Custer under caution after Custer caused him to spin with 11 laps to go in the Xfinity race on Saturday. Dillon, a Cup Series regular, slowed under caution and put Custer in the wall after the spin.
A much more dangerous wreck under caution got Kyle Busch parked by NASCAR for nearly three races back in 2011, but penalties for intentional wrecks haven’t always been that as heavy as that one. As for Dillon, he’ll face no penalties.
Officials called Dillon and his crew chief to the hauler—which is NASCAR talk for getting in a decent amount of trouble—after the wreck, and Dillon said in a television interview that he and the officials will “probably just have a Coke and discuss things, and it’ll be all good.” Plus one for the sponsor placement!
Perhaps the worst part of it all is, the sanctioning body let Dillon’s intentional wreck slide by with no penalties less than a week after NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell told reporters that drivers wouldn’t be allowed to use their cars in dangerous ways. From Autoweek:
“We’re very clear that we’re not going to allow a car to be used as a weapon,” O’Donnell said. “We didn’t see that in [a wreck between Busch and Joey Logano in Las Vegas, which was not penalized and neither was the post-race fight]. We looked at [that] as good, hard racing. ... if there’s an intentional something that happens on the racetrack, we’ll have to react.”
Seriously, this is like an adult telling kids that they’ll get grounded for eating cookies before dinner, and then watching those kids eat cookies without saying a word.
Keep eating those cookies, Austin Dillon. It sounds like Auntie NASCAR will let you do it. Let’s just hope no one gets hurt in the process.