Penalty Stricken Chase Elliott Has Crew Chief Criticizing NASCAR’s Stringent Policing at COTA

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NASCAR, Motorsport, USA Coke Zero Sugar 400 Aug 25, 2023 Daytona Beach, Florida, USA NASCAR Cup Series driver Chase Elliott 9 talks with a crew member prior to qualifying for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Daytona Beach Daytona International Speedway Florida USA, EDITORIAL USE ONLY PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY Copyright: xDavidxYeazellx 20230825_gma_be3_0180
Penalties were the name of the game in the past week at COTA. All in all, the sanctioning body issued as many as forty penalties across its three national series for enforcing its law, ensuring no driver, whether a champion or a rookie, cut through the course. While on paper it gives the impression of a non-discriminatory, fair stipulation, for some drivers it was not fair. Take the case of Hendrick Motorsports speedster Chase Elliott.
The Cup Series champion, who was already caught in the storm, trying to make it out to get back on his winning form, was caught off-guard when NASCAR decked the driver with a penalty. The road course specialist could only manage a P16 finish. Reflecting on this, crew chief Alan Gustafson also argued that it was “way too stiff” considering that it was all an accident and not a deliberate act to gain an upper hand.
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Alan Gustafson speaks his mind on Chase Elliott’s struggles in COTA
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Struggling to land on the right foot, COTA was a beacon of hope for Chase Elliott, who is arguably the best road racer on the schedule now. Though the 3.41 tight and technical track was a handful with narrow chicanes, Elliott had a chance to lose his winless streak. However, it looks like the 2020 Cup Series champion will have to wait a lot longer to get that W.
With 30 laps to go, Chase Elliott lost control of his #9 Chevy and had to correct it to save himself from a disaster; however, in doing so, the driver cut the course, and NASCAR was quick to issue a penalty. This infraction had adverse effects. Though the #9’s crew chief notified the sanctioning body that it was an accident and not a deliberate act, NASCAR did not give any leeway to its golden boy, dropping him from P6 to P16.
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Speaking about the incident on SiriusXM NASCAR, Gustafson said, “I think in my opinion the letter of the law that we’re in fraction, but the penalty was just way too stiff the crime, and in that situation, I don’t think we gained anything. I’m in favor of some warning system. I feel like the drivers need to know when they’re in infraction and you. We didn’t have any infractions during practice, and then having infractions during the race up until that point.”
“Certainly, I think Chase knew he got loose in that situation. But yeah, I just think you need some warning system that says, Hey! That’s one. you know. In my opinion, maybe three violations with just the– by a pass-through, not one. The penalty is just super stiff for the crime. So yeah, like I said, I think based on the letter of the law. Yeah, I don’t think we argue that we violated it. It’s just that ultimately how we want the racing to go and the racing to be policed,” he added, suggesting to NASCAR another alternative.
NASCAR’s take on the stiff penalties at COTA
The community was also taken aback when it saw the incident unfold. Most Elliott fans were frustrated to see their driver getting penalized for coming loose. While NASCAR’s motivation was to enforce its rule on the field to ensure that no one, absolutely no one, thinks of cutting the course, in the bigger picture, they might have taken things a little too far.
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However, Elton Sawyer, NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Competition, gave the justification, saying, “They [Elliott’s #9 team] kept coming up that he wheel-hopped, he had got loose, whatever that may be, that’s fair. I do believe that, but on the flip side you still have to make the call, or every driver, every team is going to be calling up (to the tower) and say, ‘Look, he got loose, he wheel hopped.”
Sawyer also reasoned why they did not penalize drivers for going off course in Turn 1. “There’s no lap time there,” he said. “If there was lap time (to be gained), we would have to do it. The reason a lot of times they get out there, they get pushed out there.”
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What do you think about the incident? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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