There hasn’t been a shortage of drama and excitement this season as the 2013 NASCAR schedule has reached its quarter mark. Just eight races into the season and there is one thing that is abundantly clear; NASCAR isn’t playing any games. The 2013 season started off without a hitch. The biggest race of the season was made even bigger after Rookie Danica Patrick won the Pole for the Great American Race and became the first woman to do so in the Cup Series. After Daytona though, things started to get interesting.
Driver of the No. 11 Toyota Denny Hamlin was fined $25,000 for comments he made after the Phoenix race about the new Gen-6 cars. NASCAR found his comments to be “disparaging remarks” against its racing product. Fans, and Hamlin himself, were outraged by the fine and Hamlin refused to pay but decided not to appeal the fine. The fine, per NASCARs rulebook, will be taken out of Hamlin’s race winnings.
Hamlin’s fine was just the start of what will probably be known as the toughest start to a race season in recent NASCAR history. Before the start of the race at Texas, two Penske cars, driven by reigning Champion Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, were found to have illegal rear end housings. Each driver and car owner was docked 25 points, their Crew Chiefs suspended, as well as a few other penalties. Penske has decided to appeal the penalties which will be heard on May 1st at the NASCAR R&D Center.
Most recently, Matt Kenseth has been heavily penalized for illegal engine parts found on his race winning car from Kansas Speedway. Kenseth and car owner Joe Gibbs have been docked 50 points and his Crew Chief has been suspended and fined. Other penalties were also involved with the No. 20 team.
Martin Truex Jr., Johnny Sauter and Ron Hornaday have all received penalties from NASCAR in one form or another this season and I guess the real question is what will happen next? Or even better yet, who will be next?
It’s clear to see that NASCAR is cracking down on the teams and drivers this season with the new cars but many fans seem to think that they are going too far although the penalties and fines have been consistent with infractions from the past. Other teams better take note, NASCAR isn’t playing games this season; either follow the rules, or take the punishment.