By Toby Christie (Originally appeared on RubbingsRacing.com)
Sunday Brad Keselowski capped an extremely intense Nationwide Series race, that was mired by a last lap crash that sent Dennis Setzer into the catch fence, by capturing the checkered flag. However less than an hour later Keselowski’s car was found to have and illegal left front spring and illegal right rear shock mount, during post-race inspection.
NASCAR sent the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge to its research and development lab to undergo further tests, and to see if penalties needed to be assessed. Well Wednesday NASCAR dropped the hammer on Keselowski, and car owner Roger Penske. Both the driver and owner were docked 50 points towards their effort to claim the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship.
But was the penalty enough?
For a long time the big debate has always been if a driver cheats and wins, should the win be stripped away? Well as expected there were many grumbling immediately today, via Twitter, Facebook, and all around the Internet, as Keselowski’s penalty was announced. A lot of fans were saying that Keselowski should lose the trophy, and the record of the win should be swept clean from his record… However I don’t agree. I know, I know, call me a supporter of cheating all you want, but there are three good reasons you can’t take a win away for rule infractions.
First off think of the fans. Fans of Keselowski’s went out and bought race souvenirs to celebrate their driver winning the event. Is it fair to those who spent their hard earned money on a hat of a race their hero just won, only to find out next Wednesday that he in fact didn’t win? No it’s not fair.
Or think about this scenario… Let’s say Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins this week at Richmond, and snaps his current 66-race win-less streak. The fans go through the roof with jubilation, until roughly an hour later it is revealed that he has an illegal shock on his race car. Just imagine the riot that would ensue if NASCAR took a win away from NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver, for a part on the car that he never touches. There would be mass pandemonium, and it would possibly take the S.W.A.T. team to resolve it.
The second reason you can’t take a win away due to an illegal part on a car, are the sponsors. How can that be you say? Well think about this for a second… Immediately following a victory, sponsors come up with advertising campaigns based solely on congratulating their driver and team on the win. If a few days later NASCAR strips the win away, the sponsor is left with an ad in the USA Today congratulating their driver, while the next page says the win has been taken away. Not good for business.
The third and most important reason that wins can’t be taken away, is the historical integrity of the sport. What do I mean by this? Well if NASCAR decides to set a precedent by taking a win away from a driver we open an entire can of worms.
Drivers of the past and present will come out of the woodwork saying that they are the rightful winner of a certain race from way back when, because the winning driver failed post-race inspection. Then NASCAR would in turn have to go back and re-write the history books… The process would be long, tedious, and ridiculous.
Don’t forget folks, once after a win, Richard Petty was caught cheating in post-race inspection. The race I’m talking about was the 1983 Miller High Life 500 at Charlotte. Petty was caught with illegal right-side tires, that were softer than the official tires and an engine that was 24 cubic inches too big! So if this became the way we handled these issues Petty would be stripped of one of his 200 career victories, nearly 30 years after the accomplishment took place.
Not only would this change history, but again think of how many fans you know that have a hat or shirt that celebrates Petty’s 200th victory.
Now I am not saying that cheaters should prosper, but due to the reasons above, taking wins away from drivers just isn’t a feasible option. Sure you can penalize him all the points you want, and take all of the money you want, but you can’t take a win away. I don’t ever expect to see a driver to be stripped of a victory in any of NASCAR’s big three racing series.