Dale Earnhardt Jr. has never shied away from criticizing NASCAR. This week on his Dale Jr. Download podcast, the new NASCAR Hall of Famer called out the organization for its inconsistent rulings on track limits at road courses like this past weekend’s race at Circuit of the Americas.
And then, in a case of Junior being open and honest, the two-time Daytona 500 winner brought up how he understands the frustrations of fans and other drivers when they get penalized for a specific infraction while his JR Motorsports drivers do the exact same thing and don’t get punished.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. frustrated by NASCAR’s inconsistency
Dale Earnhardt Jr. confessed on his podcast that he didn’t watch all of the action at the 3.41-mile road course in Texas but did catch some laps. He bluntly admitted that some of it frustrated him, particularly the track limits where NASCAR must rule on cars cutting corners or going too far inside a curb in what is often viewed as a subjective call.
“What’s frustrating is you’ve got a guy that’s a fan of X driver and his driver gets a black flag,” Earnhardt said on his podcast. “And then that fan can show you four other instances, maybe even in the same lap, where all these other drivers did the exact same thing, and maybe in the same picture. It’s so frustrating.
“You watch them come through Turn 1 and go way wide off the corner, completely off of the racing surface, into the runoff, and then drive a half-mile later and get blackflagged for being a foot too far to the right or the left of a curb. It’s just frustrating. I hate sitting there watching a race wondering when the driver I’m pulling for might get popped for something silly like that.
“We definitely don’t want drivers cutting portions of the race track, but I think through the esses and so forth, it’s a bit frustrating because you would see certain drivers get penalized. Jeb Burton having a great run at the end of the Xfinity race. Gets docked for cutting a corner. And there were certain instances of drivers, even JR Motorsports drivers being in the same situation, that didn’t get the same penalty. That’s got to be frustrating if you’re a Jeb Burton fan or obviously if you’re Jeb Burton.
“You go all the way there, you get in the car, you work all weekend, you race hard all day, you’re sitting there with a top-5 finish, and you’re watching other people do the same thing you’re doing and you get called on it.”
Jeremy Clements agrees with Earnhardt
Jeremy Clements couldn’t agree more with Dale Earnhardt Jr. For laps in the final stage of the Xfinity race, he battled hard with Burton in the top 5 and was running directly behind him when NASCAR officials flagged Burton for shortcutting the course. Clements thought that he had gained a position with the announced penalty until a few moments later when he learned that he had been busted for the same thing.
“I just don’t even understand these rules. You got three turns that you can’t do that in and others you can. I just don’t get that. It makes no sense to me,” the 37-year-old said.
He then brought up another interesting point about why he thought NASCAR penalized Burton and him.
“Obviously, the TV cameras were on us and I think that makes it worse,” he said. “I don’t think if we’re running 12th or 15th they would have called that on me. I really don’t. Don’t think they would have even saw it.”
NASCAR penalized Chase Briscoe then rescinded
In Sunday’s Cup Series race, NASCAR provided the perfect example of inconsistency that Earnhardt finds so frustrating. Running through the esses, Chase Briscoe blatantly cut the corner. NASCAR ruled that he was being penalized for the move.
However, a short time later, the penalty was rescinded because the governing body deemed that the No. 14 was forced off the track. Briscoe’s boss, Tony Stewart, was working the broadcast booth and made a comment about what had transpired. It was a comment Earnhardt, Clements, and everyone else watching undoubtedly agreed with.
“The most important part of it is, as long as it’s the same for everybody, I agree with that, too,” Stewart said.
Unfortunately, as Earnhardt so pointedly highlighted, the rules aren’t the same for everybody.