A lot has been said about NASCAR's penalty for Matt Kenseth's engine. I am probably in the minority here, but I think the penalty was too light. NASCAR did everything shy of taking the win away, and that's the thing they should have done above all else.
I know it's only 3 grams! It should not matter if we're talking about 3 grams or 3 tons. The minimum weight for a connecting rod is 525 grams. It has been 525 grams since NASCAR started mandating minimum weights for the reciprocating mass in 2002. In those 11 years, no one has been caught breaking this rule.
I know there was no malice on the part of TRD. 3 grams could effect on performance of a piston at high speed, but given that the total reciprocating mass was 2.5 grams above the minimum weight, there was likely no intent to gain performance. Unfortunately it is not always so easy to determine intent. If we include malice aforethought as integral to guilt (like the real world operates), then it becomes hard to distinguish when teams are accidentally breaking the rules and when they are trying to exploit a grey area.
Let's pretend for a moment that the penalty was less severe. Two months from now Mr. X wins at Kentucky with a connecting rod 4.2 grams below spec but the total mass is 1 gram above the minimum. Mr. X's engine builder says it was all a mistake. Would you be so naïve as to trust Mr. X's team? While there isn't more evidence than there was against Matt Kenseth, you should certainly be suspicious. Even if suspicions were evidence, more people would cry foul if it appeared the penalties were inconsistent from case to case. This is where an absolute prohibition comes in very handy.
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