After the race the roof of Jimmie Johnson's car was too low. That reduced aerodynamic drag and lower center of gravity is an obvious performance benefit. Behind him second place finisher, and teammate, Kyle Busch's car was found to have quarter-panel heights that were too high, again an aerodynamic advantage.
When the penalties were handed down on Tuesday following the race NASCAR did lay out some stiff penalties, but not nearly stiff enough.
Jimmie Johnson lost 25 driver points, 25 car owner points and a $35,000 fine. His crew chief was also suspended for two races. Kyle Busch faced a similar penalty, 25 points for both driver and car owner , two race suspension for his crew chief and a $25,000 fine. Effectively Jimmie Johnson was assigned third place points and allowed to keep the lion's share of the money.
This is not a deterrent.
What SHOULD Have Been
How can you fail post race inspection and still win? Jimmie Johnson won over $428,000, scored 190 points and will still go down in history as the race winner. Does this penalty fit the crime?
In what other sport can you get caught cheating and still get credited with winning? Olympic medals get stripped when drug tests are failed. Hit a homerun with a corked bat (and get caught) you'll be tossed out of the game and your homerun won't count. Even in the NFL the game can't end on a penalty. How can you justify letting a win stand when the car fails inspection after the race?
I believe that if your car fails post race inspection the driver should not get the win. Period. It's that simple. No money, no points and no glory. Credit the driver with 43rd place and penalize him all the points and money that the regular 43rd place finisher would have earned. Then go to the next driver, if his car fails inspection he suffers the same fate we try again. By these rules in that recent Las Vegas race third place finisher Kurt Busch would have been declared the race winner of record.
Based on the Las Vegas penalties a driver could easily cheat his way into the Chase For The NEXTEL Cup and would have a great shot at winning the title cheating his way through the last ten races, even if he got caught regularly. This just doesn't make sense to me! By not punishing teams enough they are effectively rewarding them for cheating.
NASCAR needs to put some teeth into the penalties they hand down. Take away an undeserved win and send a clear message to teams that the rules are not negotiable.