NASCAR has decided not to penalize Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson after their cars both flunked post-race tech in the laser inspection station following Sunday's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.
In a late-afternoon teleconference on Wednesday, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell talked about the decision to not penalize the drivers and teams, and explained procedures going forward.
Sunday night at Chicagoland Speedway, a NASCAR spokesman at at the track the infractions on the cars of Johnson and Truex were at "the lowest possible level" and afterwards the Furniture Row Racing team said contact initiated during the race by Kevin Harvick caused Truex's car to fail inspection.
The decision by NASCAR not to levy penalties means Johnson remains eighth in points. Had he been docked 10 points -- the normal penalty for what NASCAR calls a P2 infraction -- it would have dropped him into a three-way tie for 14th.
"This was the most fair decision we could get to," said O'Donnell, who noted that a 10-point penalty for both Truex and Johnson would not have had an equal affect on the two drivers.
By virtue of his win, Truex was guaranteed to advance in the Chase with or without a 10-point penalty, while 10 points could be the difference between Johnson advancing to the second round of the Chase or getting knocked out.
"Recognize that if we were to apply those penalties as we've listed them out for the event, those penalties would not have the same impact on the competitors, based on the Chase format and the increased emphasis on win bonuses," said O'Donnell.
"The post-race penalty really would not treat each competitor fairly," O'Donnell said. "We also saw this as a potential situation that we could see repeating itself for the next nine races."
Translation: If other teams saw that the race winner could flunk LIS and still keep the win and the automatic advancement into the next round of the Chase, they would do it, too. And NASCAR clearly didn't want that.
Going forward, NASCAR will only penalize teams in the Chase for "egregious" LIS violations, which will be a P4 penalty that would result in the victory being "encumbered," meaning that if a winner were caught at that level, he would lose the right to automatically advance in the Chase.
And all Chase cars will go through post-race LIS after each Chase race from now on O'Donnell said.
In addition, NASCAR is cracking down on teams swerving and bumping into each other on the cool-down laps to make sure their cars get through tech in the proper alignment.
"If you look at what took place post-race at Chicago on the backstretch, with cars up and down the apron in the track and bumping into each other, that's not NASCAR, that's not part of our sport," said O'Donnell. "We're going to address that as part of this as well."
See the full Chicagoland penalty report below.