Roger Diez: NASCAR should use disqualification as ultimate punishment | NevadaAppeal.com

Roger Diez: NASCAR should use disqualification as ultimate punishment

Roger Diez

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to one and all. If you’re looking to do something a bit non-traditional, hop on out to Fernley Ninety-Five A Speedway for its 2018 kickoff event. Weather permitting, activities will include a test and tune day for prospective dirt track racers, a car show, and a swap meet. Activities start at 8 a.m. with race cars on track at 10 a.m., and will go throughout the day. They probably won’t have green beer available, but there might be a green car or two.

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Last Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race at ISM Speedway (Phoenix International to you traditionalists) turned into another Kevin Harvick benefit, and was the first time Harvick has won three in a row. It was also the first time in 25 years a driver won three out of the first four races in NASCAR’s top series. Harvick considered the win a vindication the Las Vegas penalties that stripped him of 20 points and seven playoff points. The Vegas win won’t count toward playoff qualification, but will stand in the record books. NASCAR is the only professional racing series to take this stance. Every other race track, sanctioning body, and series I’ve ever encountered either disqualifies or excludes a car that’s found to be non-compliant in post-race inspection. In those cases the win is awarded to the second-place car (or the first legal car in the finishing order if second place also has problems). I think if NASCAR really wants to deter teams from going over the line, it would adopt the practices of the larger racing community and use disqualification as the ultimate punishment. That’s just my opinion.

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At Phoenix the veterans once again outdid the young guns, with seven out of the top 10 spots going to seasoned drivers. Chase Elliott was the best of the youngsters in third, with Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones eighth and ninth. Kyle Busch was runner-up to Harvick for the second weekend in a row.

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Now it’s onto Auto Club Speedway to complete NASCAR’s West Coast tour, and Harvick will be looking to make it four in a row. He’ll have some competition, though. Kyle Larson, who dominated the first stage at ISM, is wicked fast on two-mile ovals and he loves the California track where he won a year ago. Jimmie Johnson, who showed marked improvement at ISM last week, scored his fifth Fontana victory in 2016, while Brad Keselowski won in 2015. Kyle Busch won back-to-back California races in 2013-14 to add to his 2005 win, and Harvick took his only Auto Club Speedway win in 2011. Kasey Kahne is the only other active driver to have won at the track, back in 2006.

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The Verizon IndyCar series kicked off the 2018 season last Sunday with the traditional first race on the St. Petersburg street circuit in Florida. It was the first outing for the new bodywork, which reduces downforce by as much as 1,000 pounds. There were seven rookies in the field, and they surprised the veterans with some outstanding performances. First among them was Robert Wickens, who led the most laps and was on pace to win until being taken out by Scott Dixon in turn one on the final restart. Dixon recovered to finish sixth, while Wickens was credited with 15th and an average running position of 1.54, best in the field. When the two leaders collided, Sebastien Bourdais shot through the gap to take his second St. Pete victory in as many years. It was an emotional win for Bourdais, who came back to the series at the end of last season after recuperating from serious injuries suffered in a qualifying crash at Indianapolis.

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Bourdais is back in action this weekend, wheeling a Ganassi Ford GT at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Live coverage will air on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 today. It’s the second round of the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship, following the Rolex 24 at Daytona.