NASCAR officials surprised racing fans on Saturday by handing out penalties to Toyota drivers Kyle Busch, Christopher Bell, and Denny Hamlin. All three competitors were docked 10 points in the drivers' standings and were moved to the rear of the field ahead of Sunday's Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube.
The reason for this punishment is that the noses of their cars did not meet specifications during pre-race inspections. There were no qualifying laps on Saturday due to the heavy rain falling in Las Vegas, so the officials simply did pre-race inspections. The Toyota Camry stock cars driven by Hamlin, Bell, and Busch were all also docked practice time on Friday due to attempts to change the shape of the front fenders with body filler.
Following the news of the penalties, NASCAR fans responded with fired-up comments on social media. Some wanted the Toyota drivers to face harsher punishments while others were upset that two of the favorites to win on Sunday would be facing a disadvantage at the start of the race.
Busch had originally been slated to start Sunday's race in the pole position, which is in the front of the starting grid. Hamlin would have been just behind him in the fourth position. Now, they would be at the rear of the grid and striving to make up ground early.
It's almost like they know they have illegal cars. 🤷♂️— Bryce (@hamybuck) February 22, 2020
One of the more common responses to the penalty news is that many racing fans simply don't trust Toyota drivers. They believe that the vehicles can't compete with the Ford and Chevrolet drivers. Joe Gibbs Racing, the team behind Hamlin, has been on the receiving end of criticism due to alleged cheating.
"About time JGR is the most penalized team in nascar start writing them down pre- race and post- race penaltys," one user commented on PopCulture.com's Facebook page.
Not Harsh Enough
That's it?— Daffy (@DaffYuuck) February 22, 2020
With the news of the penalty, there were several fans wondering why the drivers were only losing 10 points each. They were hoping for far more severe punishments or potential disqualification from the upcoming race.
"If you are caught with not going by the rules that are given to you and fail inspections you should be PARKED FOR THE RACE DENNY 2nd week in a row," a racing fan wrote on Facebook. Some fans were disappointed by the lack of discipline being handed down.
Welp we know 1 of those 3 will win..confirmed— Bryce Worsham (@SwikkedVenom) February 22, 2020
What will happen during the Pennzoil 400? Will Busch or Hamlin still win despite being moved to the back of the field? The fans have many questions about the upcoming race, but they are convinced that one of those being penalized will still win.
"Kyle will still win!#18!!!" another fan commented on Facebook. There was no doubt in the minds of many fans that Busch would secure the victory on Sunday afternoon.
Hmm, maybe that's how KB gets all those wins.— Moe (@moe_1971) February 23, 2020
Some NASCAR fans saw the news of the alleged cheating and the subsequent penalties and simply went on with their day. Others responded by making a very bold stance about the drivers and their sponsors.
"I used to like Snickers and M &M and I will not support that candy anymore. I CAN NOT STAND KYLE BUSH. What a little punk," one frustrated fan on Facebook wrote. They couldn't believe that the massive candy companies would support drivers that had allegedly attempted to cheat.
Try and Try Again
So how hard is this to get right? I feel like there has been a lot of penalties like this in regards to inspections and whatnot (not just you, in the Xfinity and Truck series as well) I’m asking as a brand new fan to NASCAR, not to be a smart ass.— KC_SUPERBOWL CHAMPS (@gomotigers) February 21, 2020
There were many fans on social media that posed multiple questions about the upcoming race. Specifically, they wanted to know what went into the process of getting the cars ready to work?
There were some fans on social media that were newer to the sport of NASCAR and were a little confused by the process of these pre-race inspections. Is it that difficult to follow the rules prior to each Cup Series event?
Should be disqualified. Same goes with any team. 3 strikes and your out— C. Daniel Mobley 🇺🇸 (@CDanielMobley1) February 22, 2020
Is cheating inherent to the sport of NASCAR? There are many fans that believe this to be true. They expect some racing teams to "push the envelope" before each Cup Series race, and they want severe punishments.
"Every manufacturer pushes the envelope.. its nascars job to catch them. Chase wonder boy Elloit also failed pre race unspection.. 3 times. Was docked owner point and car chief sent home," a Facebook commenter wrote after seeing the news of the penalty.
Sooo, does this mean they cheated? Or that their pit crew isnt doing a very good job?— Stormtracker_WV (@Stormtracker_WV) February 22, 2020
One of the biggest questions for NASCAR fans is whether or not this was actually cheating. Did the racing teams knowingly push the envelope in order to gain an advantage on Sunday?
In the opinion of some racing fans, this could simply be an honest mistake. They are convinced that the racing team could just be struggling to do their jobs properly.
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