Commentary

Should postrace disqualification set precedence for NASCAR's top series?

NASCAR stripped Peyton Sellers of his season-opening Camping World Series victory because his car failed inspection -- one of the rare times that a driver has been disqualified for a postrace violation.

Updated: April 24, 2008, 2:36 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Former NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr. once said that when he saw a driver win on Saturday night, he didn't want to read on Monday morning that somebody else had been declared the winner.

He should have mentioned Tuesday as well.

That's when the governing body stripped Peyton Sellers of his season-opening victory in the NASCAR Camping World series at Greenville-Pickens Speedway because of an unapproved part in the right rear shock discovered during postrace inspection.

It is one of the few times that a win has been taken away in any of NASCAR's seriers. Fireball Roberts in 1955 was the last to have a Cup win taken away because of what was ruled an engine modification.

So does this set precedence for the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Craftsman Truck series moving forward? NASCAR officials say no, that it's comparing apples to oranges, that this better applies to the weekly or touring series.

Andy Santerre, who owns Sellers' car, thinks it should.

Santerre was shocked by the ruling. He doesn't understand why his situation was any different than Carl Edwards' in the Cup Series earlier this year.

Edwards was fined 100 driver points, and his crew chief, Bob Osborne, was docked $100,000 and suspended for six weeks after it was discovered the lid from the oil reservoir was off during a win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Although many in the garage said this was a blatant attempt to bend the rules, the win stood.

"I'll be honest," Santerre said. "Obviously there wasn't a whole lot of NASCAR news over the weekend. Danica Patrick stole the headlines [by becoming the first woman to win in the IndyCar series]. NASCAR must have been a little jealous they didn't have anything to write about.

"They had to make headlines some way, so I guess they had to make us an example."

NASCAR officials again say no, but added that there is some precedence for this type of penalty.

A second-place finisher at a Camping World race at Adirondack International Speedway in Beaver Falls, N.Y., recently was moved to the rear of the field after the car was found to be in violation of the rear gear rule. At the 2005 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, the winner of the race was moved to the rear and had his victory taken away after the car was found to have illegal wheels.

In 1995, Dale Jarrett had a win at Michigan taken away in the Nationwide Series after his car failed postrace inspection.

Santerre still questioned why the win was stripped during a Tuesday conference call with the panel that made the ruling and was told each situation is handled on a case-by-case basis.

"I wanted to know what separated me from Jack Roush other than millions of dollars," said Santerre, referring to the owner of Edwards' car.

The $100,000 fine was a drop in the bucket to Roush, whose team was awarded $425,675 for Edwards' win. Santerre was stripped of the $7,500 first-place money and $1,500 for winning the pole. He was relegated to the $1,000 prize for 30th.

The $8,000 lost, he said, could have run that team for two weeks.

"This makes me look pretty bad," said Santerre, who still got the win because he owns the second-place car driven by Austin Dillon, the grandson of Cup and Nationwide owner Richard Childress.

"It's hard enough to make a living at this level. There's not a whole lot of money in this series, and it's tough to find sponsors."

Santerre doesn't dispute the infraction. What he doesn't understand is how the governing body could be so harsh on him after he has been an ambassador for the series for about 15 years.

"I guess loyalty doesn't mean anything to them," said Santerre, who was told there could be no appeal.

Drivers and owners have been keeping wins regardless of the infraction since Roberts' disqualification in 1955. No case was more famous than in 1983, when Richard Petty was allowed to keep a win despite illegal tires and an oversized engine.

"Honestly, I don't think this would ever happen in the top series," Santerre said. "So many fans follow that, and it would cause such a stir if they took a win from Dale Jr., for example.

"There would be so much bad publicity. NASCAR wouldn't want that."

Santerre certainly didn't want the publicity he's received. He's not sure the late France Jr. would have wanted him getting it, either.

"Unfortunately, Bill is not with us, and I guess the new regime wants to set precedence," Santerre said. "I've had more phone calls on this than after any win we've ever gotten. At least it's bringing attention to our series, which may be what they [NASCAR] wanted."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com. ESPN.com's Terry Blount contributed to this report.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter