Shocking Consequences Needed to Deter Out of Bounds Behavior in NASCAR

Now under the spotlight for another L-1 penalty this season, the No. 4 team should not be eligible to win the Cup Series title this season. Photo – Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Let’s face the fact, that the ‘pushing the envelope’ practice in NASCAR is so ingrained in the sport that people actually believe that it’s their job to outfox the officiating body to gain an advantage over their competitors. For many years we’ve heard …

“If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying hard enough.”

Today as I listen to several talk shows analyze the latest L1 Penalty to the No. 4 Stewart Haas Racing team, I’ve heard former drivers, crew chiefs, TV commentators, media members, and even some fans. more or less say this is part of NASCAR’s culture from the beginning, so that’s what we should expect and accept.   What???

That makes me wonder if that’s what these same people are teaching their children because it sounds to me that these individuals are enabling the continuance of a cheating culture not only in NASCAR but within perhaps their families and their viewership as well. So…It’s okay to cheat your sanctioning body, your fellow competitors, and the fans…right?

Today, I heard current and former crew chiefs actually try to convince listeners that it’s not really ‘cheating,’ when a team finds a competitive advantage outside of NASCAR’s rules. Adding to the change of perception attempt is the supposedly reassuring statement, that everyone is doing it.

Hopefully, fans are smarter than to believe any of these attempts to make the practice of cheating sound like it should be not only accepted but expected.

This sounds to me like a child trying to justify to a parent that their bad behavior is alright because everyone is doing it, so I had to do it too. Most parents don’t accept that excuse and NASCAR (the parent in this case) should not accept that either.

Children brought up with a moral compass learn early there is always a consequence for their behavior.  When behavior is good, there are good consequences, but when behavior is bad, bad consequences are expected. And the number one rule is cheating is never acceptable under any circumstances.

Oh, and by the way, there were three L-1 penalties this week for teams finishing in the top-five of the Cup Series race at Texas, including the winning team.  So the acceptance of cheating has clearly permeated the sport.

The acceptance of the bad behavior of cheating in NASCAR needs to come to an end with shocking consequences to deter teams from doing it – not to mention regaining the credibility of the sport.

NASCAR’s credibility is most certainly at risk if a team with two big L-1 penalties this season has the potential of becoming the next Cup Series champion. Do we really want to celebrate this as acceptable?

What is lost in all of the conversations about penalties is first, rules are in place because of those willing to cross the line and break the rules. The teams willing to cheat are the driving force for the rules in existence. Secondly, and most importantly, champions should be celebrated for their talent not because of their ability to cheat the system.

Thirdly, teams are clearly not getting the message that cheating is not acceptable under any circumstances via the current penalty system. I’ve heard more than one say that this penalty will inspire the No. 4 team to come back and win at Phoenix to prove themselves. Sadly, they’re missing a big point here. It’s going to take much more than that to prove their integrity to earn a championship.

The time has come for NASCAR to not only take away wins but to make the penalty hurt teams willing to take the risk of cheating. NASCAR needs to find a way to keep teams from competing for a prestigious championship title if they cheat the system in any manner. Cheaters are unquestionably not championship material. Teams willing to cheat are telling us they believe they lack what it takes to win the championship legally.

Let’s stop trying to convince fans that cheating should be accepted and expected and start rebuilding this sport with a moral compass that creates pride in winning a title based on a team’s talent and perseverance to win legally.

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