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Should NASCAR Take a Closer Look at Their Inspection Process?

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Joshua Lipowski

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NASCAR’s inspection process is under some scrutiny after rescinding a penalty to Playoff contender Ryan Blaney. The reason for rescinding the penalty was because of “an issue with the damper template”. With the sheer amount of penalties, and this not being the first time that NASCAR has had to rescind a penalty this season, should there be changes made to NASCAR’s inspection process?

How NASCAR Inspection Has Changed in Recent Years.

NASCAR’s inspection process has gradually gotten tighter and tighter over its’ 75-year history. In 2018, NASCAR debuted a brand new inspection process called “Hawkeye”. The process is far more precise than the former process, which used metal templates to fit cars.

In 2022, with the introduction of the Next-Gen car, NASCAR’s inspection process was forced to get tighter because of the Next-Gen car being a spec car. With more parts and pieces coming from the same supplier, NASCAR promised it would be more strict, and sure enough, they became more strict.

Penalties became more strict, and NASCAR went so far as to disqualify drivers from races. It got to the point where NASCAR took a win away from Denny Hamlin at Pocono in 2022. However, the inspection process has come under some scrutiny this year.

The Scrutiny of the Inspection Process

Earlier this year, NASCAR’s points penalties against Hendrick Motorsports following Phoenix were overturned by an appeals panel, and NASCAR later rescinded points penalties against Kaulig Racing for a similar violation. Then the Ryan Blaney thing happened in Las Vegas.

There was also a penalty at Talladega which took away Kevin Harvick’s second-place finish because of windshield fasteners that came loose. Rodney Childers put out a statement following the penalty in a now-deleted social media post.

There have been times I’ve got caught doing something I shouldn’t have. Today got DQ’d for the car buffering in the draft all day and some windshield bolts vibrating out. My guys had silicon on the threads and gobbed on the tip. Still came out. Not sure what else we could do.”

Rodney Childers

It’s not the first time that a crew chief has gone to social media claiming they did nothing wrong. Now, it is an open secret in NASCAR that crew chiefs and teams will go to whatever lengths possible to bend every rule to their advantage without either breaking it or getting caught. It’s been a part of the sport for years, so, a crew chief making a statement sometimes sounds like a child with their hand in the cookie jar.

Therefore, using those penalties with no appeals is a shaky argument for looking at the inspection process. However, instances like Ryan Blaney do call it into question at least somewhat, but, is it really worth an entire change in the inspection process?

What Can NASCAR Do Differently?

What NASCAR has to do, and what they likely will do is make sure this issue with Ryan Blaney never happens again. They have looked at the piece that caused the issue, and they should probably look at every other piece to make sure this instance does not happen again.

Now, the penalties being overturned by an appeals panel earlier in the year are interesting to look back on. That means an objective third party thought that there was an issue with the penalties that NASCAR gave out. Then again, nothing else has happened on that front throughout the rest of the season.

NASCAR’s inspection process is very tight, but it is tight for a reason. It is because the Next-Gen car was created to be close together through spec parts due to both cost restrictions and for closer racing. If NASCAR takes its foot off the gas, then that means the Next-Gen car ceases to do what it was intended to do.

At the end of the day, NASCAR tried to do right by rescinding the Blaney penalty. If this becomes a pattern, there need to be some major changes. However, should NASCAR make major changes due to just one issue in one inspection?

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