The usual penalty day for NASCAR after a race event is on Tuesday, and of course now that the sun is setting, it's obvious that there will be no fines or monetary penalties handed out. It's a major surprise considering what took place last weekend at the Auto Club Speedway.
Many fans and media expected penalties regarding the final lap crash of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race between Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin. Plus the post-race scuffle. The second possible penalty could have been handed down to Tony Stewart who came face-to-face with Logano at the end of the race for a blocking maneuver.
The Associated Press was able to speak to the NASCAR chairman, Brian France, to question the lack of penalties. Reason given was, of course, the standard race to the checkered flag no matter the cost. This time, the cost was a fractured back to Joe Gibbs Racing, Hamlin.
France told the Associated Press: "I have said repeatedly, every minute, that contact, especially late in the race when you are going for a win, that's not only going to happen — that's expected. Both of them (Logano and Hamlin) did exactly what I think you would do when you really, really want to win. Getting some contact, trying to race extra hard to win the race, that's what we're about."
Many times in the past if a driver scuffles with another at the end of the race, penalties have been handed out – usually a fine. However when Stewart confronted Logano for blocking him on the final restart, the confronting driver would have to answer to NASCAR. Not only did Stewart walk away but so did Logano for his block on Stewart. But remember, blocking is allowed in NASCAR.
After the minor confrontation by Steward as both teams circled to ensure that a fight did not break out, Logano’s reply to it all was to toss a water bottle at Stewart.
"We have no problem, and frankly encourage drivers to go up to one another to discuss whatever they think they need to that happened in the race," France said. "And then every once in a while there will be some emotions, and that's what happened Sunday and crews stepped in between them and we don't think it rose to some level of anything."
Hamlin left the hospital in California for his return home to North Carolina for further medical evaluation.
While NASCAR did not hand out any penalties, they are checking into the safety aspect of the hard hit to the inside wall that Hamlin took – both wheels lifted off the ground as he went head-on into the wall. They are considering adding a SAFER barrier at the location where Hamlin crashed.
Perhaps it is okay to hand out a monetary fine for stating one's opinion of the new cars. Now one can only hope that Hamlin returns to good health and can resume his career.