An encumbered win is new term to the 2017 NASCAR Season – How about an encumbered NASCAR championship?
Wouldn’t that be something?
An encumbered win, it essentially means that a driver keeps the win. However, the driver forfeits the championship berth.
What about the championship round? Does a Championship 4 driver keep the championship? No.
If one of the Championship 4 wins the race then fails post-race inspection, he will lose his championship trophy, on Tuesday. The next highest finisher will be crowned the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion.
While that would be extremely entertaining from my perspective, that likely wouldn’t be good for the sport as a whole. On Monday, the champion is already full engaged in the media tour.
NASCAR is going to greater lengths to avoid this very catastrophe.
Typically, NASCAR selects 3 cars and brings them back to the NASCAR R&D Center for a thorough tear-down style inspection. If they fail, the finish is encumbered and the win can’t be used to help them get to Homestead.
In this case, the cars are already at Homestead. Taking away championship advantages of a win is no longer the option. Taking away the championship, is.
As a result, for Homestead-Miami Speedway, the process is the same with an added step. All 4 cars have already been to the NASCAR Research and Development Center, before the race. It’s something that hasn’t been done at any race prior.
All 4 cars will still be tech’d after the race as well. The pre-race trip to the R&D Center just makes it less likely for a car to fail the post race laser beam inspection.
NASCAR discusses Homestead inspection
“Obviously, we don’t want to see that either,” Steve O’Donnell states to ‘The Morning Drive’ on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
“We’ve had all the possible championship contenders go through the R&D center, with those cars. They’re loaded up and headin’ to Miami, O’Donnell stated on Monday. “So, we have really good confidence in those cars that will be presented there.”
“Then, we’ve got all of our officials there, to make sure that we feel very confident, post-race. That when we declare a winner, that’s our champion.”
“I think fans can rest assured that when they see their driver come across and they get through that post-race inspection, we’ll be good to go.”
Related: NASCAR to look at minimum speed
It could happen
However, despite the early trip to R&D Center, the nightmare could still become reality. These NASCAR teams have built modern day race car transformers.
The machines are specifically designed to pass pre-race inspection. Once they hit the race track, the cars move and the measurements turn into something entirely different. Sometimes that results in a failed trip through post-race LIS inspection.
In most cases, it’s not an intended plan to ‘cheat’. The car just moved more than they wanted it to.
If the 2017 NASCAR champion claims an encumbered win, he keeps the win, in the history books forever, asterisks included. He also keeps the race winning trophy. However, the championship trophy is handed to the 2nd place finisher of the Championship 4.
What if all 4 fail post-race?
I have no idea. I would assume that if all 4 cars received the same level of L1 penalty then it would default back to the highest finishing position. If 3 cars were hit with an L1 penalty and the other gets an L2, then I think, the L2 would be the winner.
It’s an interesting twist to NASCAR’s new encumbered terminology.
Two of the 4 drivers have received an L1 penalty in 2017. Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick both received L1 penalties during the first trip to Phoenix Raceway. Additionally, Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske, Joe Gibbs Racing and Furniture Row Racing have all received L1 penalties in 2017.
Related: NASCAR Cup Series penalty report and the most frequent violators
Steve O’Donnell | Sirius XM NASCAR Radio | Brad Keselowski | Martin Truex Jr | Kyle Busch | Kevin Harvick | Homestead-Miami | NASCAR