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NASCAR’s insistence that Joey Logano sit out Saturday’s practice while in his car on pit road was a joke. And Logano called it just that after getting out of his car.
Logano’s car didn’t pass inspection on four tries before qualifying Friday. So by rule, he had to sit out all of the 50-minute final practice session Saturday. But instead of simply not allowing Logano’s team to not touch the car during practice, it made Logano strap in, drive the car to pit road and sit in it while the entire practice went on.
“I had time for a lot of thoughts in there, mainly that it’s a joke,” Logano told reporters after practice via NBC Sports. “I don’t know why it has to be out on pit road. I mean, a penalty is a penalty. That’s fine, but there’s no reason to sit out there. I think it’s dumb, but that’s coming from a guy that just sat in a car for an hour sweating. That may not be the best thing to say, but it’s true.”
Logano had support from Dale Earnhardt Jr., who expressed his incredulity at NASCAR’s planned enforcement of the penalty before practice began.
Drivers forced to sit in their cars to serve 15 or 30-minute penalties for inspection or other infractions has been commonplace throughout the 2017 season. And that happened during Saturday’s final practice too.
While it’s stupid to force a driver to sit in his car to serve a penalty, NASCAR can at least justify a partial-practice penalty by saying a driver can immediately drive onto the track from pit road after the penalty is over.
But Logano is the first driver to miss an entire practice. So he had nowhere to go but back to the garage afterward. The only thing NASCAR gets out of something like that is a sense of pride in forcing a driver and team into what it thinks is public humiliation.
Isn’t starting last enough? Logano will start at the back of the field Sunday at one of the toughest tracks to pass in NASCAR.
Instead of Logano and his team, what looks dumb in this process is NASCAR’s enforcement. The sport is sometimes so hellbent on showing everyone it’s in charge that it fails to recognize its own absurdity. This is one of those times.
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