Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fired up on Friday.
He felt the need to defend his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott when asked about winning drivers destroying their cars by blowing out the tires and compromising the inspection process. Elliott’s crew chief Alan Gustafson and car chief Joshua Kirk were suspended for one race and the team penalized 15 driver/owner points and a $25,000 fine after officials discovered “a modification of components to affect the aerodynamic properties of the vehicle.”
Because the finish was encumbered under NASCAR rules, Elliott also lost the playoff point he would have earned for winning the second stage of the race.
“It just seems like the Gen-6 car, once everybody started figuring out how to trick the underbody and things like that, everybody blows the tires out,” Earnhardt said. “It is just hard for me to see the logic in suspending a crew chief, car chief for some tape flapping on the spoiler when the winner drives into Victory Lane with the rear of the car tore all to hell. I don’t see how that doesn’t come across anybody’s consciousness or common sense. I don’t understand. It doesn’t make any sense to me. And it never has.
“I have been kind of waiting all this time for NASCAR to eventually say, 'Look, you know we would just rather you guys not blow the tires out. They talk about not wanting to be the ‘fun police.' Being the ‘fun police’ is not on the radar of their damn problems. You know, I don’t think they need to worry about… that is a cop-out in my opinion.”
Truex's post-race celebration at Chicagoland
Even one of Earnhardt’s best buddies — Martin Truex Jr. — wasn’t off limits when he NASCAR's most popular driver ascended his soapbox. But clearly the sanctioning body was the target of Earnhardt’s ire.
“It didn’t really bother me until I thought about it, and I’m like ‘The No. 24 (Elliott) is going to get suspended crew chief, car chief for this tape mess, and the winner of the race is riding into Victory Lane with the damn rear of the car tore all to hell. You can’t even tech it.’ And I love Martin (Truex, Jr.), and it’s not about Martin. I mean every guy out there has done it. I don’t know that will be a very popular opinion about it, but that is how I feel.”
Clearly, the feedback following Elliott’s recent 15-point penalty in the playoffs for an illegal modification coupled with Earnhardt’s observations, should provide NASCAR with plenty to discuss in the postseason.
“I just feel like that they should step-up,” Earnhardt said of NASCAR. “They’re the governing body. It’s obvious it’s done intentionally. It’s not unintentional. And you cannot tech the race car. They have to jack it up and put tires on it. If you’re watching the video of these crewman trying to fix that tape on that spoiler of the No. 24 car, imagine what the hell’s going on with the car that gets to jack it up and put tires on it before it can go across the LIS.
“We could go on and on about it. It’s something I don’t really got to worry about no more after the end of this season.”