NASCAR is changing its post-race inspection model for all three national series to include a more immediate process – which includes disqualifying a winning car or truck that violates the rulebook.
Under the changes announced Monday, post-race inspection will now be done at the track after the completion of a race, rather than waiting until mid-week at the NASCAR R&D Center.
Race-winning teams who are found in major violation of the rulebook will be disqualified (moved to last in the finishing order), receive last-place points, no stage points, and last-place prize money. The team will also lose all benefits that come with a win, such as playoff eligibility or advancement in the playoffs should an inspection failure occur in the post-season.
NASCAR estimates post-race inspection will take 90 minutes. All three national series will operate under this policy.
The first- and second-place finishers will go through post-race inspection as well as a randomly selected car. NASCAR believes the randomly selected car will often be the third-place finisher.
If the race-winning car is disqualified, and the second-place car clears inspection, the second-place team will be declared the winner and receive all benefits of the win. Such a decision would also be reflected in the record books.
When it comes to the second-place finisher, if that car were the only one to fail inspection and be disqualified, the rest of the finishing order would move up.
“Our industry understands the need to focus on what happens on the racetrack,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president of competition and racing development. “We cannot allow inspection and penalties to continue to be a prolonged storyline. Race vehicles are expected to adhere to the rulebook from the opening of the garage to the checkered flag.”
Under this policy, Kevin Harvick would have been stripped of his wins at Las Vegas and Texas last season. The No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford was found to have a rear window violation at the R&D Center after Las Vegas and a modified spoiler following Texas.
NASCAR said it will continue to take a random car to the R&D Center, but penalties will likely not be issues. Instead, officials will look for trends and other issues and share information they learn with the garage.
The last known NASCAR disqualification came in April 1960 at Wilson (N.C.) Speedway, when Emanuel Zervakis won the race but was moved to last place following a violation for an oversized fuel tank. Joe Weatherly was declared the winner.