Drivers discuss severity of Chase Elliott’s encumbered penalty

Rusty Jarrett/NKPPhoto

By Caleb Whisler, Staff Writer

With Chase Elliott receiving an encumbered second-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway, some drivers showed concern about encumbered penalties at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“I’m still trying to figure out how the No. 24 got all those points.  And what is an encumbered finish when you are second, what does that mean?,” said Ryan Newman.

Elliott was found in violation of NASCAR rule book section 20.20.a. NASCAR found an aerodynamic modification on the car that created an advantage. NASCAR also deemed the penalty as encumbered.

Because Elliott’s second place finish was encumbered, he will be unable to use that position in a tie-breaker situation and would lose that playoff point for winning a stage.

For Newman, the problem arose when Elliott put him down another lap down towards the end of the second stage, which changed his approach to the final stage.

“My problem with it is he (No. 24) lapped me to be two laps down two laps to go in the second stage.  And I’m pretty sure his car had the same infractions at that point as it did throughout the entire race,” said Newman. “So, his situation changed my situation and the way we raced our race because of that.  Obviously, NASCAR deemed it an advantage.  So, how do you really penalize in that situation?  To me it’s shame on a lot of people for letting it get to that point.”

With the rise of encumbered penalties in recent weeks, Newman does not see how the the math adds up with the seriousness of the penalty.

“I mean to me the math just doesn’t add up.  For how serious some of the penalties have been here in the last little bit.  I don’t know to see the guys kind of mocking their penalty from last week it just doesn’t look really good for a lot of people,” said Newman.

Unlike Newman, Denny Hamlin sees the penalty Elliott received as a “misdemeanor” charge because of the strong points day he had at Chicagoland.

“I think they just took a few stage points away for the most part. From my standpoint, it looks like it’s a misdemeanor. NASCAR didn’t deem that a very big penalty, so there must not have been any intent there. I guess it was all an accident,” said Hamlin.

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. believes that the penalty Elliott received would not have affected the cutoff line in this opening round, but is worried about how the garage would react if the penalty was issued in the second or third round of the playoffs.

“If this is the second or third round I think that could come into play and would probably be talked about a little bit more. If he would have backed all the way up and got zero points, then all of us would have gotten more points, so it would have been pretty much a wash for the cutoff spot,” said Stenhouse. “But I think something like that happens in the second or third round would be pretty interesting to see what the garage thought about that.”

Elliott gained 53 points at Chicago through the stages and his finish at Chicagoland. Because of his penalty, Elliott still had a net gain of 38 points. He currently sits eight in the playoff standings, 58 points behind points leader, Martin Truex Jr.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *