NASCAR’s decision to suspend Chase Elliott for one Cup Series race shows that they are not playing favorites when it comes to officiating.
NASCAR wasted no time in announcing that Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott had been suspended for this coming Sunday afternoon’s Cup Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.
Upon further review, they believed Elliott’s controversial move during Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway to be an act of retaliation against Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin.
Given the nature of the incident, which saw Elliott hook the right rear of Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota coming off of turn four of the four-turn, 1.5-mile (2.414-kilometer) Concord, North Carolina oval and knock both cars out of the race, many called for the driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet to be suspended.
After all, Bubba Wallace was suspended by NASCAR for a similar move at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last October.
Many believed that the precedent had been set when Wallace became the first driver to be suspended for an on-track incident since Matt Kenseth in 2015.
Though NASCAR has a lengthy recent history of only issuing penalties when drivers admit intent, they acted last year even after Wallace denied hooking Kyle Larson on purpose, and they have acted again this year after Elliott denied hooking Hamlin on purpose.
The decision to keep Elliott from competing in the Enjoy Illinois 300 presented by TicketSmarter totally shreds the “golden boy” conspiracy theory that NASCAR uses a different set of rules for the sport’s five-time reigning Most Popular Driver.
It is also yet another example of NASCAR cracking down on Hendrick Motorsports, despite regular claims that they too benefit from “favoritism”.
Another angle to consider here is the fact that NASCAR knows the consequences of suspending Elliott, and they did it anyway.
They absolutely know that ratings will tumble in his absence, and that’s not even taking into account the fact that there are some fans who plan to boycott the race due to the suspension.
Ratings were down significantly earlier this year when Elliott missed six races due to a fractured left tibia he suffered in a snowboarding accident, and that’s simply because of the fact that many fans didn’t want to watch when he wasn’t racing.
The fact that he is now suspended takes things a step further, even though it’s hard to argue that the suspension wasn’t warranted. A contingent of the sport’s largest driver fanbase have already made clear that they no longer plan to watch nor follow the event.
World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway is scheduled to host the Enjoy Illinois 300 presented by TicketSmarter beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET, and Fox Sports 1 is set to provide live coverage. This race is the final Cup Series race of the year which is set to be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1. For those who have no intent to boycott the event, start a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss it!