In what NBC’s Dustin Long is calling a “seismic philosophical change,” NASCAR announced additions to the 2019 rules.
Drivers with cars failing inspection will be stripped not only of the ‘benefit’ of the win, but also the win itself. The exact nature of what constitutes a major rules infraction is still being determined, but indications are that it may be virtually any infraction other than loose lugnuts.
According to Long: “NASCAR stated that a violation of one unsecured lug nut would not trigger a disqualification but three would. NASCAR stated that any other violation would lead to a disqualification of a winning car.”
Should the winner be disqualified and the second-place driver clears inspection, he will be awarded the victory. The driver failing inspection will be stripped of all benefits of the victory including finishing points and stage points.
In the past, NASCAR has been reluctant to take wins away from drivers. The stated reason has been that the fan has a right to know the winner of a race before they leave the track. But advancements in the inspection process have NASCAR believing it can complete the inspection process in 90 minutes and declare the winner.
Any subsequent issues found at the Research and Development Center will not result in a penalty, but will be used to examine trends in the sport. If NASCAR sees something they do not like via this process, it is anticipated that it will become part of the rules package that will eventually be enforced post-race.
Last year, Kevin Harvick was stripped of the benefits of his victories at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the spring and Texas Motor Speedway in the fall for rules infractions.
What does this mean for fantasy players?
It’s hard to say exactly who will be the first to attempt to provide a squeaky clean car. Early adopters will experience a performance deficit to teams that successfully skirt the rules. Moreover, once a driver and team have qualified for the playoffs, their tendency to try an push the envelope will increase.
Since most fantasy games do not alter scoring after the completion of the race, those illegal results will most likely remain in weekly contests. Bold teams or those with nothing to lose are likely to increase in fantasy value.
Since the penalty is so extreme, however, NASCAR teams are more likely to get into lockstep before the end of the season. If they do not and skirting the rules continues, expect NASCAR to make the penalties even more extreme.