Penalties Part IV

So, it looks like NASCAR is going the Carl Long route with Kenseth’s penalties – 50 points, $200,000, and suspension of the owner’s license and crew chief for the 20 car for the next 6 weeks.

Note – suspension of owner’s license means that the 20 car will not receive owner’s points for the next 6 points races.

This seems to be confirmation of a new era of consistency for NASCAR as far as penalties go.

Mechanical issue causing post race inspection fail? 6 points, $25,000 fine.

Attempt to cheat or use illegal parts (engine excluded)? 25 points, $100,000 fine.

Something wrong with the engine? 50 points, $200,000 fine.

So even though I’m not a fan of the Penske “not in the spirit of the rules” infraction, I do applaud NASCAR for trying to set a consistent precedent for fines and penalties.

Now it’s up to the crew chiefs and car owners to determine if the penalties outweigh the possible benefits of “gray area” performance gains.

“Worshing” away the penalties at Kansas.

This week, on our Kansas 1 schmak, we discuss the new road course qualifying format, post-Texas penalties, Danica running a little bit better, and more… lots… more.

Picks for next week:

Coach: Kasey Kahne

Rob: Kyle Busch

Kenseth’s Engine Fails Post-Race Inspection

On the heels of the Penske rear end penalties (heh), Matt Kenseth’s #20 TRD engine failed post race inspection due to one of the connecting rods that was too light. Since there are eight of them, and only one was under weight, it almost seems like a quality control issue, and would not offer any sort of competitive advantage.

So the question is – will NASCAR pull a Carl Long type penalty ($200,000, 50 points, suspension from competition), a Penkse type penalty, or a Truex penalty (6 points, $25,000, probation)?

New Qualifying format for road courses!

As the exclamation mark in the title probably indicates, I’m very excited for the new qualifying format for the road courses.

Previously, road course qualifying was done just like all the other tracks – one car at a time, best lap wins the pole. The only difference is that the road courses typically time just one lap due to the amount of time it takes to get around the track.

The new format now specifies that cars will go out in groups for a set period of time, and the best lap by each car will be their qualifying lap of record.

They’ve used this in the Nationwide qualifying at road courses before, and I loved it.

This is yet another reason why road courses are awesome, and should be a bigger part of the sport.

Hear hear to another piece of good news!

Penalties Part III – Precedent

An interesting article over at the frontstretch has some interesting points about penalty precedents.

On Sunday, Martin Truex and his team failed post-race inspection for having a car that was too low. The infraction seems to be an easy, black and white, yes or no kind of deal, and so does the penalty.

In the wake of penalties issued Wednesday, the one that stands out the most here is Martin Truex, Jr.’s penalty for being too low in post-race inspection. That six-point deduction – equivalent to about 25 in the old system – along with a $25,000 fine for crew chief Chad Johnston keeps along with the same type of infraction reaching all the way back into the previous decade.

Why I find that important is, for the first time if you asked 50 of the top media members and garage insiders what Truex’s penalty would be, I’m confident all 50 would have said what actually happened. For once, a rulebook deadpanned as written in dry erase marker has a sense of permanence when it comes to a penalty for a specific violation.

The whole article is pretty good, and makes the case that the points and crew chief suspensions in the Penske camp have precedent as well, harkening back to 2006 when the 24 and 48 cars failed to fit the COT template.

But to me, that’s a fairly different issue – in the Hendrick violation, cars are easily, visibly, not legal. Cut and dried. But with the Penkse situation, the cars were visibly, verifiably legal, but were modified so that in action, they gained an advantage.

Again – these are cars that were deemed legal by NASCAR, but NASCAR didn’t like some of the parts on them (for good reason).

The Penske situation sounds similar to a 2005 Hendrick situation, where the right rear shocks were modified to stay extended and gave over 200 pounds of downforce advantage to the 48 and 5 teams.

“From a rulebook standpoint, these are the facts: The cars passed post-race inspection last Sunday night,” Darby said. “In regards to the shock absorbers themselves, after being tested and disassembled and everything, all the parts and pieces are well within the confines of the rulebook. However, the shock build the assembly of the shock and what the shock is intended to do with that build – it’s not within the spirit and the intent of what our shock absorber rules surround.

That was 2005, this is 2013, so things have changed.

In the past, legal-but-still-advantageous parts have been treated under the “don’t bring these back” program, and have caused changes to the rule book to make them illegal after the fact.

So is this the new precedent?

Can everybody now expect to receive the same fine for violating the spirit of the rules?

Speaking of Penalties – Trucks at the Rock

Ron Hornaday was fined 25 points and $25,000 for wrecking Darrel Wallace Jr. under caution, seen here.

Hornaday claims that he didn’t know the caution was out:

“I didn’t know the yellow was out and I got down in there and started racing on the back straightaway and he slowed up and then I run into him a little bit,” said Hornaday, who has 51 career wins and 200 consecutive starts in the series.

“I went over to the other side (of him) and I don’t know if he hit his brakes on me or whatever, but I turned him in the fence and I feel like a total idiot.”

Please. We’d have to be total idiots to believe that.

UPDATE – here’s a more complete look at it. You can see Hornaday slow down, downshift, and see his eyes as he’s spinning Darrel “Bubba” Wallace out.

Penalties Schmenalties

On Wednesday (delayed from their normal Tuesday announcement due to Keselowski’s White House appearance), NASCAR announced penalties for team Penske involving 25 points, $100,000, and 6 week suspensions for crew and car chiefs for both the #2 and #22 Penske Fords.

That’s a pretty harsh penalty any way you look at it, made even harsher because NASCAR has not yet actually stated that anything that they confiscated was “illegal”.

Just that certain parts “weren’t in the spirit of the rules”.

Heck of a penalty for not having NASCAR spirit.

The long awaited Texas Schmak

We recorded early on Monday, so that meant we had to make up for gained time, right?

Anyway, here’s the latest schmak, the missing bucket of fun from Texas Motor Speedway.

Picks for next week at Kansas:

Rob – Brad Keselowski.
Coach – Martin Truex, the 3rd.

DW vs DW, 4 laps of changed perspective

12 laps to go:

Mike Joy: Is that enough time for the car to come to Truex and to run down Kyle Busch?
Darrell Waltrip: No way! Kyle is a good tenth or two tenths quicker right now than anybody in the field! I know on restarts, you give me Kyle Busch, put him on the inside on a restart, I would say adios to everybody else!

8 laps to go:

Darrell Waltrip: Guys, trust me! I’m not makin’ this up… That 56 is gonna catch that 18. I don’t know if he’s gonna be able to get by him, but he’s gonna catch him.


Screw You, NASCAR

In addition to being a total usability disaster, the website also advertises a thing called “Raceview Premium”.


• Live for every Sprint Race – ok.

• You are in control of the action – huh? WTF does this even mean? That’s not a documentable feature.

• Select your favorite driver – ok, what about those of us who want to follow more than one driver?

• Real telemetry and leader board – how does this differ from the live leader board? Actual RPM and gas and brake info? How synched up is this with the view?

• In-car audio for all driver – wait, I thought I got that with the NASCAR mobile app. Why am I asked to pay for this again?

Finally, the biggest “feature”: “Raceview Premium is for PC only.”

Crap. $79.95 per season. And I have to watch from my computer.

What about Raceview Mobile? Another $39.99 per season. And NASCAR Mobile, which is $24.99 per year (or something). My head hurts. Why the overlap and confusion? Are they trying to get as many accidental sales as possible so they don’t have to work on making a better product?

This is that whole stupid buisness ideology where you charge different rates depending on what screen you are looking at, and it stinks.

Screw you NASCAR.

Pit crew challenge cancelled due to lack of sponsorship

This one may have flown under the radar, but apparently, one of the coolest off-track things in NASCAR has been cancelled this year because of lack of sponsorship.

Jayski reports:

NASCAR will not conduct its All-Star Pit Crew Challenge this year as it was unable to land sponsorship for the event. The event, a staple of NASCAR’s all-star week since 2005, featured pit crews competing in an arena setting where they would jack cars, change tires and push cars across the arena floor.

Craftsman and then Sprint had sponsored the pit crew challenge throughout the years, but Sprint reallocated its money to sponsor the season-opening exhibition Sprint Unlimited race at Daytona International Speedway.

I can’t help but speculate that sponsors didn’t want to pony up $$ because this wasn’t shown on TV in a timely manner. Results were announced almost immediately, while the TV airing happened weeks later. I mean, I’ve never watched one of these because I never knew when it was on, and it was already old news.

And you know that Sprint got a LOT more coverage and viewer eyeballs for the Sprint Unlimited crap. A LOT more. Wise move for Sprint, sucks for NASCAR.

Cup on Saturday, Trucks at The Rock

Just a reminder, check your schedules, as the NASCAR Cup race is at Texas on Saturday at 4:30 pm PST.

Also, the Trucks are back at Rockingham on SUNDAY at 11:00 AM PST

Woo, Rockingham!

Fine Dining at Martinsville

In this week’s podcast, we discuss the racing, the wrecking, the Danica, and the Fox broadcasting booth. Again.

Picks for next week:

Coach: Matt Kenseth
Rob: Jimmie Johnson

Working on the schmak

The latest episode of the schmak has been recorded and will be posted later this evening, just a little late. We here at the schmak know that you expect and rely upon our timely publication and apologize for making your Tuesday morning slightly crappier.

Rookie of the year points standings

I was curious about the rookie of the year (ROTY) standings so far this year, and didn’t see anything that had them listed, so I went and calculated them out.

The basic premise is this – it doesn’t really matter where they finish in the race, but where they finish relative to the other ROTY candidates.

Highest finishing rookie gets 10 points, second gets 9, third gets 8, etc…

Or in this case, no “etc…” because there are only three declared ROTY candidates.

So here are the standings as of Fontana:

Rookie Standings, 2013


Danica Patrick

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

Timmy Hill

Race Finish Rookie Points Finish Rookie Points Finish Rookie Points
Daytona 500 8th 10 12th 9 N/A 0
Phoenix 1 39th 9 16th 10 N/A 0
Las Vegas 33rd 9 18th 10 N/A 0
Bristol 28th 9 16th 10 N/A 0
Fontana 26th 9 20th 10 39th 8
Martinsville 12th 10 25th 9 N/A 0
———— Standings ————
  Rank Points Rank Points Rank Points
Totals 2nd 56 1st 58 3rd 8

At the end of the year, only the 10 best rookie points finishes will be counted, so Danica could catch up to Stenhouse if he has a bunch of bad days/blown engines/wrecks.

But probably not.

Timmy Hill could also conceivably be more competitive since he is scheduled for more than 10 races this season.

But the bottom line is – does anyone else care?

Giving family a shot

Yesterday, Junior Motorsports (Daly Jr.’s Nationwide team) announced that they had signed Jeffery Earnhardt to drive one race for them at Richmond.

Jeffery Earnhardt is son of Kerry Earnhardt, who is Dale Earnhardt’s first (and mostly forgotton) son. “Until he was 16, Kerry saw little of his biological father.” – wikipedia.

Junior Motorsports sounds super excited about this opportunity. From Kelley Earnhardt Miller, general manager:

Richmond happens to be one of the few races that neither Kasey Kahne nor Brad Sweet are scheduled to drive the No. 5 car… Dale and I were discussing our options for that weekend. It was his idea to put Jeffrey in the car and let him drive our equipment… It’s only a one-race deal but something that could really help Jeffrey if he does well.

Translation: “we don’t have anybody, we can give this kid no money and no help and he’ll jump at the chance. Hope it works out for him. Sucker.”

I left out the “we loved the idea” part because that’s just PR fluff.

Danica’s old ride

For the first four races of 2013, Danica Patrick has raced in 3 new and 1 almost new car.

But for Martinsville, she’s getting a four year old car, while teammate/boss Tony Stewart is getting a car built last year and other teammate Ryan Newman is getting a brand new car.

In fact, the car that Danica is driving on Sunday was last on the track in November 2010, more than 2 years ago.

Methinks someone at Stewart Haas has low expectations for Danica at Martinsville.

Full chassis rundown from

Chassis No. 10-535: This car (formally No. 14-535) debuted in April 2009 with Tony Stewart at the wheel at Phoenix International Raceway, where Stewart used it to qualify sixth and lead once for 19 laps before finishing second. The last outing for Chassis No. 10-535 was in November 2010, when Stewart started 20th and finished 17th at Phoenix. The car was on standby for the No. 14 team throughout many race weekends in 2011 and 2012 but was never pressed into service. Since the end of the 2012 season, it was updated to the sixth-generation (Gen-6) Chevrolet SS configuration and transferred to the No. 10 team of Danica Patrick and crew chief Tony Gibson.

Hamlin vs. Logano

On the Dan Patrick show, Hamlin had this to say about the last lap wreck with Joey Logano at Fontana:

“If it wasn’t intentional, it’s the worst case of car control I’ve ever seen as a driver.”

In a separate ESPN interview, Logano had a different story:

“My number one goal is to go win a race,” Logano told ESPN’s Marty Smith. “So did I intentionally wreck him? No, I did not intentionally do that. If I was going to do that I would have hit him in the left-rear tire. I hit him in the door. It’s hard racing at that point.”

I tend to believe Logano has problems controlling his car. I think Ryan Newman agrees.

Martinsville Tires – another 48 advantage.

Tires for the race this Sunday will be new to Martinsville, with slight compound changes from the last set, and slightly less tread depth (read – more tire wear).

But most interesting, is that these are the product of tire testing that happened last year.

Who was at the test? Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex, and Jimmie Johnson.

Odds at Martinsville change now that Hamlin is out

This comes as no surprise to anyone, but now that Hamlin is out of Martinsville, the Vegas odds on Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon have gotten better.

Because of Hamlin’s absence, Johnson’s opening odds at the LVH SuperBook shrunk from what was expected to be about 5-to-1 down to 7-to-2. Instead of Gordon being 6-to-1, he’s been posted at 5-to-1.


Seems obvious, so the question is, what about a surprise driver? Say, Kurt Busch, who’s been on a pretty big tear in the 78 car?

At 100 to 1, he could be a big money maker. Assuming he doesn’t have another meltdown, equipment failure, a Tony Stewart style block, Logano vs. Stewart aftermath, or the like.

On second thoughts, save your money.