I have been a little busy with family and other stuff, but I had to take time to comment on the recent NASCAR penalties. I like the idea penalizing the crew chiefs for violations on the cars. I am not a big fan of penalizing the drivers. I have played the role of race car crew chief a few times in my life. I can honestly say that I have done things to the car that I did not tell the driver about. Nothing illegal, but I have adjusted things a little more or less than what was expected from time to time. There are times when they need to worry about driving and nothing else. The driver has plenty of distractions with fans, qualifying, practice sessions, etc. They do not need to know everything and often don’t know everything if a crew chief is doing his job.
That said, here is my suggestion for NASCAR. Continue to give the fines and suspensions to the crew chiefs who are caught breaking the rules just like you have been doing. Continue to ban them from the garage areas for the entirety of the suspension. The only change I recommend is that NASCAR make the suspension an on-track suspension. I akin this idea to the hockey penalty box. Don’t bar the crew chiefs from the track all together, rather require them to report to a NASCAR trailer at the track an hour before any official race activity is to begin. That would include qualifying, practice sessions, and actual races. Have them check all cell phones, radios, PDA’s and computers at the door. Station a couple of NASCAR officials in the trailer with them while you force them to watch something like an annoying children’s video repeatedly for the entirety of their NASCAR trailer stay. Require the crew chief to be in the trailer before their driver is allowed to move the team’s car out of the garage area.
It does not sound like that big of a deal, but NASCAR can prevent the crew chiefs from running their normal job via a cell phone from their couch at home or from the top of a motor home outside of the track.
Eury Jr. apparently parked his motorcoach on a hill inside the race track and communicated with Earnhardt from there. Earnhardt reportedly spotted his crew chief during a caution period, first yelling “Hey Man!” on his radio and then explaining “I just saw a friend out there.” Source: Yahoo! Sports
This little twist will require the team owners to cart the suspended crew chiefs to the track and ensure that they are in the presence of NASCAR officials before the team car is allowed turn a wheel on the racetrack. This will add an additional level of pain to the teams and cost NASCAR next to nothing to enforce. I call it the NASCAR Crew Chief Penalty Box.