One of the most-talked about, and yet least-understood words in NASCAR as of late is “encumbered”.
Everyone’s using it, but many of them say they don’t get it. So let’s break it down.
Websters dictionary defines the word encumbered as follows:
1. encumbering play \in-ˈkəm-b(ə-)riŋ\
2. to impede or hamper the function or activity of
3. to hinder, as in negotiations encumbered by a lack of trust
Well, Denny Hamlin’s recently-encumbered wins (let’s remember, he had two of them) from Darlington Raceway seem to be everything but encumbered, in my opinion.
Yes, NASCAR dropped a $50,000 fine and two-race suspension on Hamlin’s crew chief Mike Wheeler, as well as took 25 driver points and 25 owner points, but I don’t feel like it’s enough.
All that is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but I guarantee you that Hamlin & company took home way more in winnings than that $50,000 fine. Considering the last reported race purse by NASCAR for a Darlington win was in 2015, when Carl Edwards did his famous backflip to the tune of $279,625, they’re not out that much.
And with all the advents in technology, you can bet that Wheels’ influence will certainly be felt during the time he’s away. He’s just not allowed to physically be at the race track, that’s all.
So my question is, why not cheat? I mean we all have heard the old adage, “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.” Every good NASCAR crew chief will tell you that with a wink and a smile; at least, unofficially, that is.
I think it’s time for NASCAR to make a statement. If you cheat to win, you just forfeited your win. You just won last place. Not only that, but any winnings you made in the race go directly to charity. Load it up and the entire team — car, driver and all — can take the next race off. I guarantee the wink and a smile would quickly be replaced with growls and gnashing of teeth.
Now that … that would give a true meaning to the term “encumbered win”.
I’m surprised that the fans haven’t risen up and become more vocal about these types of wins. Right now NASCAR slaps the team with a comparatively small fine, takes away a few meaningless points, and shakes its finger at the team like they were scolding a dog.
The fans should demand a foot up the keister and a thorough flogging.
NASCAR seems to be listening to the fans quite closely as of late, so their opinions may well be heard.
In this case, it’s an opinion that I hope is heard very loudly.
About the Writer
Andy DeLay is a career law enforcement officer for Clearwater, Florida who carries a passion for motorsports at both the local and national levels. He is an avid iRacer who also spends time away from the virtual circuit at local tracks.
In addition, DeLay is a host of the long-time Burning Rubber Radio Show on the Performance Motorsports Network, the wireless mobile radio affiliate of Race Chaser Online, as well as an onsite reporter for PMN in various capacities.
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