Legendary motorsports owner Chip Ganassi is currently feeling NASCAR’s wrath following a regrettable decision.
NASCAR suspended and fined Ganassi, 62, after he violated COVID-19 protocols last weekend in Daytona, Fla. Although Ganassi will still serve his punishment this week in Homestead, Fla., his penalty just took a bizarre — and confusing — turn.
Chip Ganassi received a strange update about his suspension
NASCAR both punished Chip Ganassi and also found a way to let him off the hook.
Earlier this week, NASCAR suspended Ganassi for this weekend’s race in Homestead. Ganassi also received a $30,000 fine for violating COVID-19 protocols last weekend.
According to NASCAR’s official website, Ganassi was penalized “for bringing into the competition area a non-essential individual that was restricted from the footprint.”
Initial reports said that Ganassi wouldn’t be allowed at Homestead. Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass clarified that Ganassi could attend the race, but not in a credentialed area. Instead, Ganassi can attend either with a “grandstand ticket or a suite ticket.”
Considering how strongly NASCAR takes its COVID-19 protocols, their decision to allow Ganassi in the building at all is a confusing one. The league may have been better off only fining Ganassi if this is his punishment.
NASCAR isn’t playing around by suspending Ganassi
NASCAR was among the first professional sports to return from last year’s shutdowns, especially in North America.
The league has spent the last nine or so months enforcing strict COVID-19 rules. Drivers who test positive for the virus need two negative tests in a span of at least 24 hours, along with doctor’s clearance, to return to racing.
NASCAR legend and seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was among the drivers who missed time last year after a positive test.
With that said, NASCAR’s decision to let Ganassi attend the race doesn’t make sense. NASCAR found that Ganassi violated COVID-19 protocols, something that can derail the entire sport in a worst-case scenario.
This would have been an excellent opportunity for NASCAR to put its foot down. Leagues have mostly avoided punishing the individuals who violated COVID rules — the Dodgers’ Justin Turner can attest to that — and this was a scenario where NASCAR issuing legitimate consequences would have worked.
Chip Ganassi has had a legendary life in professional racing
For over 30 years, Chip Ganassi Racing – or CGR — has sponsored some of the most talented drivers in everything from the Cup Series to Extreme E off-road racing.
CGR has 230 victories across nine different leagues and Series. Twenty-six of those wins have come in the Cup Series.
Despite Chip Ganassi’s suspension, Busch and Chastain will still participate in Sunday’s race at Homestead.