Overly Opinionated: So, you failed inspection…

It is no secret that the hot topic right now is NASCAR inspection, specifically the LIS. Everyone has a thought on this and lots of fans are assuming that teams are cheating if they fail the LIS. Can it really be that easy to be determine cheaters from non-cheaters? Why is the LIS a big topic now?

First off, what is the LIS? It’s a giant metal bed that takes 40+ measurements in under 2 minutes. It checks everything from front and rear alignment to just about any other measurable that use to be done by hand. Using lasers and computers each team is given a print out of their measurements.

When you hear that some team failed LIS, what do we think? Most think, “OH MY GOD! They are CHEATING!” Are they really? The teams set up the car to how they want it, they do research and try to innovate in available areas. When they fail LIS it simply means that one measurement was out of NASCAR’s mandated tolerance. It may be more than one but many times it is just one or two items.

Is this a big deal? No. Not really. Out of all the measurements 1 or 2 is wrong. With fans crying for “fair play” we have forced NASCAR to become a “Spec Racing” series. Is that really what we want? Guess what you find in spec racing, domination by one or two teams who find something in a grey area. Until the other teams find that or something else, one team will own the series.

NASCAR became a spec racing series when they went to a universal body. It slowly evolved into this inspection heavy series. It is the enemy of innovation. It forces engineers to push the envelope in all available areas, which are limited suddenly by NASCAR using their, “We don’t like it.” rule. So when a team runs maximum toe and gets contact with the wall or another car or even if a part expands or contracts more than anticipated, the toe can easily be out of tolerance.

NASCAR is very clear on what is and is not acceptable. In the past they would make a judgement call about damage contributing to the passing or failing  of any measurement on a car post-race. This year they finally said, “Must pass regardless of damage.” That’s great, if enforced that way and this week Martin Truex, Jr. was the first demonstration of that new policy.

Some are calling for no post race inspection or to inspect everybody. Let’s just be realistic, is one hundred percent inspection fair to the teams? The owners and drivers get up and go while the mechanics and crews push it back through tech inspection that it just passed 3 hours before. No inspection would make more sense honestly.

To be fair, the LIS isn’t the only imspection station teams go through before the race, there are several. Pre-race they pass every station. If they can make an adjustment in-race without getting caught, I say let them do it. If you aren’t going to pass/fail a team in template post race, don’t do it with LIS either.

I am an advocate for less inspection. Once a chassis is certified by NASCAR at their R&D center, leave it alone. Certify a motor at NASCAR R&D, leave it alone. That covers the safety and horsepower, at track check the body to template and check for minimum weight, then let the teams do what they want otherwise. Simplify the process. Let the teams engineer and innovate in any way. You give small teams the chance to catch lightning in a bottle and steal a win!

With all the inspection you have prevented small teams from having a real shot at a win on a weekly basis. Let the teams innovate, quit demanding precise measurements for everyone to meet. Quit regulating rear end gears and transmissions.

If you do this, get rid of all the inspection before and after the race you will see a larger variety of winners. You don’t have to worry about failing post race inspection and teams can do what they do best, find ways to make cars fast.

If we insist on having this spec racing series, you’ll continue to push NASCAR the way of the IROC series.

In the end, fans, quit caring so much about the LIS station. If I told you that after 400 miles something was .010 inches out of tolerance would you call it cheating? Think of it, a change of 10 human hairs… If that’s what means the difference between winning or cheating, we are being a little too anal here. I’m sure if given the option every team would agree, quit demanding such precision. If you get smoked one week, you can always come back next week with something way off the wall and go after it. Right now, you’re locked into a tight tolerance so you have months before you find something.

Until we ease up, enjoy the domination!

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