NASCAR made a major decision on Wednesday by penalizing Corey Heim for “His actions” during the Truck Series Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway. The penalty dropped Heim from 3rd to 4th in the final points standings. Heim was spun out by fellow Championship contender, Carson Hocevar, while leading the Championship contenders. Heim would then put Hocevar in the wall in the closing laps, which set the stage for a chaotic, multi-overtime finish that was panned by many in the industry. This sends a major message to the NASCAR garage, but what message is that?
“Boys, Have at It”
In 2010, a new phrase was coined by NASCAR in terms of handling driver disputes on the race track, “Boys, have at it!” or “Have at it, Boys!”. Either way, it sent the same message. When it comes to driver disputes on the race track, NASCAR prefers to let the drivers settle it amongst themselves.
Oftentimes, when things get feisty either on the track or in the garage area, NASCAR will stay out of the discussion and let the drivers hash it out amongst themselves. We’ve seen this plenty of times throughout the years with examples including the 2014 Playoffs at Charlotte and Texas. Maybe NASCAR will fine or suspend crew members or crew chiefs, but, the drivers usually walk away with little more than a fine or a stern talking to.
Now, there were instances where it went too far in NASCAR’s eyes. The prime example of this would be the 2015 Martinsville fall race where Matt Kenseth intentionally wrecked Championship contender, Joey Logano, which knocked Logano out of a chance for a Championship. Kenseth was subsequently suspended following that instance.
This year, we have seen NASCAR clamp down a bit more on incidents like this. Corey Heim is not the first driver to be penalized this season for intentionally wrecking another driver.
How NASCAR Has Penalized Drivers This Year
There are a few instances this year where NASCAR has penalized drivers for intentionally wrecking competitors, and we will focus on three Denny Hamlin was the first to be penalized as he was fined $50,000 and docked 25 points for wrecking Chastain at the end of the Phoenix race in the spring. The catalyst here, however, was that Denny Hamlin admitted to wrecking Chastain on “Actions Detrimental” that following week.
The next instance was Chase Elliott at Charlotte during the Coca-Cola 600. After being put in the wall by Hamlin, Elliott proceeded to right-hook Hamlin into the wall. Hamlin immediately called out Elliott for an intentional wreck, but Elliott did not admit to it on TV after the incident.
Regardless of the lack of an admission, NASCAR suspended Elliott for the following race at Gateway. This came after Elliott had already missed six races after an injury while snowboarding. NASCAR meant business, and, if they thought the wreck was intentional, they would act.
Well, Corey Heim did a very similar thing to Carson Hocevar on Friday night at Phoenix. Heim did not admit to intentionally wrecking Hocevar outright, but NASCAR still penalized him.
It sends a message that NASCAR is trying to reign in some of the chaos created by the “Boys, Have at it” mentality. Driver respect has been a major talking point throughout the season, and, in order for the issue to be fixed, NASCAR felt they needed to step in. However, it also said a lot about how NASCAR viewed the incident that happened on Friday night.
What It Says About Friday Night’s Debacle
Simply put, it showed that NASCAR will not tolerate incidents like Friday night. It also send a message about how NASCAR felt about the race that went down on Friday. For as much as NASCAR wants and tries to create chaos, it seems Friday night crossed a line as was evidenced by the reaction to it.
The Truck Series has been the series that has been the most criticized when it comes to driver respect. Maybe NASCAR thought that if they wanted to keep that from getting worse, they needed to step in, and they obviously did.
In the Stands
However, what did the fans think about the penalty? Here are some of the best fan reactions to the penalty.
Nick simply said, Good.
Does 20000k even exist yet Kitt?
SkeeterBeavers does not seem convinced it was on purpose, or is he just being sarcastic?
Robb Whitehead says Heim should have been given leeway to show his displeasure.
Family Man (Dave) believes Hocevar should have been penalized as well.
Landon said that Heim deserved the penalty.
NASCAR sent a message with penalizing Corey Heim after the race and even the season concluded. Will we see driver’s mentalities change as time goes on because of how NASCAR has officiated these types of incidents this year?