Hendrick slams penalty

Hendrick Motorsport boss Rick Hendrick has slammed NASCAR after two drivers, including his own driver Jimmie Johnson, were given pit-speeding penalties during Sunday's MBNA 400 at Dover Downs

Hendrick slams penalty

Johnson came into the pits on lap 174 to have his right-front tyre checked but was called for speeding by NASCAR as he left the pit. Johnson finished the race a lap down in 10th spot and lost 27 points to his ranking from last week.

Johnson and Hendrick both visited the NASCAR office after the race to voice their disagreement over the penalty and to criticise the current system employed to detect speeding in the pitlane.

"We got hit by something today that I don't think was fair," Johnson said. "I don't think we were speeding, and I don't think it was right. They don't have any computer system in place to back it up. It's just a stopwatch. They said I was speeding. I said I wasn't."

Asked whether NASCAR had indicated a more accurate system would be considered, Johnson said, "No, nothing was said."

Hendrick, however, spoke more strongly, stopping just short of accusing NASCAR of stone-age short-sightedness in administering the speeding policy, in place since 1992 as a safety measure.

"In the age of electronics we ought to be doing it with a wire," Hendrick said. "Take the guess work out of it. You don't want somebody up there with a stopwatch making a decision on the championship. That's what you've got. Maybe they'll get it fixed.

"One of our sponsors, Delphi, went to [NASCAR] over a year ago with technology to fix that. If it came to putting some stands here or selling some more tickets, they'd be doing it. Spending a little money to take the guess work out of it, I guess the tracks don't want to do it."

Some believe NASCAR uses the speeding rule as an arbitrary hammer to whack competitors for past sins, or for violations of the double-secret speech code. Hendrick sidestepped that but threw the ball in NASCAR's court.

"I would hate to be the guy that cost a guy a championship because his finger was a little quick on a stopwatch," he said. "Look at where they're standing [start line], and they're trying to use a stopwatch. I just think we ought to take the human element out of it.

"In Formula 1 and so many other sports, you can see it on pit road. It's precise. You've got the information. Here's a tape. All the teams can use that later to know what they're doing."

Asked whether NASCAR had given any assurance of change in the works, Hendrick said, "[They're] not going to do anything this year. Maybe next year. Hey, if you can do it electronically, then do it electronically. Take all the guess work out of it. We're like living in the 50s. We used stopwatches back when I started 20 years. It's telemetry now."

Since mid-last year, NASCAR has introduced an electronic loop scoring system at all tracks. After early administrative difficulties, the system seems to be working fairly well.

A similar system on the pit road would be complicated, though, but technologies are available, as Hendrick and others note, that would make such calls accurate and indisputable.

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