[media-credit id=50 align=”alignright” width=”200″][/media-credit]The last thing the defending champion in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series West division needed to hear on Tuesday from NASCAR, was that he was being penalized for a rules violation which occurred during a post-race inspection on June 25 at Infineon Raceway.
Eric Holmes, who drives the No. 20 Napa Auto Parts sponsored Toyota for Bill McAnally racing, was docked 100 championship points after his car was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-I (car, car parts, components and/or equipment used do not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20C-5.10.1A.
Car owner Bill McAnally was also penalized 100 championship owner points, as was his crew chief Duane Knorr, who was fined $5,000; suspended from NASCAR until the fine is paid; placed on NASCAR probation for the next two (2) NASCAR K&N Pro Series West events; and placed on NASCAR probation until July 13, 2011.
When I first heard the news that he and his team were penalized for an illegal carburetor, (Carburetor Eligibility: The carburetor must remain as supplied by the NASCAR-approved supplier – Unapproved carburetor modification to the carburetor main body) of the 2011 NASCAR rule book. I sat back and thought about each and every driver who has ever found themselves in this same predicament, all the way from the Whelan to NASCAR top-four touring series.
To many times whenever a team is penalized for a rules violation, the fans are quick to put the blame on the driver with some outlandish and abusive insults as if he was the one who put the car together. NASCAR as we know is a sport that goes through many rule changes, and when you look at each everyone it’s amazing how a crew chief or team owner can ever keep up with all of them. Mistakes can be made during the set-up of a car, and just like life itself there is such a thing as human error.
Now for the record I am not trying to defend or make a case about what happened with Holmes car during the construction phase, but just trying to shed some light on what the driver has to face come the next race date. The penalties couldn’t have come at worse time for Holmes and the No. 20 Napa team, especially when you take into consideration that Holmes has always been a good ambassador for the sport, and at the same time earning the respect from his fellow competitors and fans for his sportsmanship and demeanor around the venue on race day.
With the amount of points taken away, the violation is consistent with what is given out in these situations in the NASCAR Touring Series, which will make it harder for Holmes to repeat as the defending champion of the series. Unlike the 2008 season when the Escalon, California native had already won three races in his first six starts, along with leading the point standings and eventually winning his first of three West series championship.
Holmes found his team struggling early on this season with only one top-five, while leading a total of 22 laps which is below his career average, and is not the path to follow if he expected to become a back-to-back champion in NASCAR’s lower tier touring series.
Heading to Toyota Speedway at Irwindale for this weekend’s race, Holmes will still be one the pre-race favorites to win the So. Toyota Dealers 200 despite being 358 markers behind point’s leader Greg Pursley because of the penalty. The team has also decided not to appeal the penalty, but instead wants to put this behind them and focus on the remainder of the season.