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Mullins: Another Encumbered Win? NASCAR Needs to Make Penalties Harsher

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It was announced earlier today that Denny Hamlin’s winning racecar from Sunday night’s Bojangles Southern 500 was illegal. To throw insult to injury, Hamlin’s car from Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series car was deemed illegal, too.

Both cars were found to have illegal suspensions in which NASCAR handed out an L1 penalty for the violation. NASCAR also encumbered both victories which means the playoff points given to Hamlin for the Cup victory were stripped and will not be added to his points each round he moves forward in the playoffs.

In addition, Hamlin will be without Mike Wheeler, his crew chief on the No. 11, for the next two weeks and a reduction of 25 points for both team and driver standing. Wheeler was fined $50,000.

This is the second time this season that NASCAR has deemed a victory encumbered. The first came to Joey Logano at Richmond in fall. Hamlin has already clinched a playoff spot from his victory earlier this season while Logano has to win Saturday night’s season-finale to make the 16-drive playoff field.

For one, I’m not a fan of the encumbered win. I’d rather see NASCAR take everything away – the trophy, points, purse, etc. Instead, NASCAR is saying that the driver won, but not really. Also, have you ever tried explaining to a non-NASAR fan an encumbered win? Trust me, it can be confusing.

NASCAR has always said they wanted fans at the race know who won the race when they left the grandstands after the checkered flag flies.  For one, this is another issue I have with NASCAR. In this day and age of social media and instant access to information, fans are always engaged. The notion that they want fans to know who won the race before they left is a thing of the past.

I don’t know about you, but if a driver that wins the race did so illegally or by “cheating”, I want to know, no matter when that is. If you win by cheating, did you really win? NOPE!

Despite having the win encumbered, Hamlin already clinched a playoff spot, so did having Sunday’s win taken away really hurt? Not really. However, Hamlin will be without his crew chief for the first race of the playoffs, so that might hurt.

Maybe one of the ways to keep everything in check would be if a race is deemed encumbered at any time during a season, any win before that is encumbered too. That might be harsh enough to keep everyone in check.

I don’t know what the harsher penalty for a winning car failing post-race tech would be, but if they were treated like they never showed-up that weekend, would that work?

Would the idea of a harsher penalty – i.e. loss of all points earned in the race, loss of purse money, etc. – keep crew chiefs and engineers in check?

No matter how you look at it, in my opinion, NASCAR needs to have harsher penalties that really makes someone on a race team think long and hard about breaking the rules or “pushing the limits” of the rules book.

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About Jacob Mullins

Jacob Mullins serves as the managing editor and senior NASCAR writer covering all three national touring series's. You can find him on on Twitter at @JMulls15. An intercollegiate athletic administrator by trade, Mullins can be found at the big tracks as well as the local short tracks in the Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania area. Mullins enjoys social media, photography and graphic design. A native of West Chester, Pennsylvania, Mullins follows all forms of racing, Major League Baseball (Baltimore Orioles) and college football (Virginia Tech Hokies).

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