Out with “encumbered.”
In with ??????.
NASCAR has removed the unpopular term from its rulebook. The rule itself still exists, but NASCAR no longer has a name for it.
Here’s the rule in a nutshell: If a technical violation is severe enough, NASCAR will not allow the team to use the finish to make or advance in the playoffs. In other words, if a driver wins a race and the car fails tech by an extreme margin, the win still counts in the record book, but the driver can’t use that win — and doesn’t get the playoff points for that win — to make the playoffs or advance in the playoffs. The finish also doesn’t count when considering any playoff points for stage wins or tiebreaker (best finish) scenarios.
It’s a pretty stiff rule. It kept Joey Logano out of the playoffs last year as his April win at Richmond didn’t get him in.
This rule really does need a name or word associated with it. Encumbered wasn’t it. Give NASCAR a B for effort in trying to find a word but a D for execution. Not enough people knew what it meant and images of cucumbers dominated the socialsphere.
So, here are some suggestions:
Tainted: The win is certainly tainted with a rules violation. Like encumbered, it doesn’t necessarily assign blame but merely states fact.
Impure: This word works. But probably would get the same reaction as encumbered.
Bogus: A driver gets to count the win and keeps the trophy but the other rewards aren’t there? Bogus could work on several levels and, like some others, doesn’t assign blame.
Smokey: While the impact of penalty is harsh, this name is not and pays tribute to attempts to work in the gray area of the sport, a la Smokey Yunick, a legendary crew chief and mechanic. It shows respect to innovation while acknowledging NASCAR has to make rules and enforce them at times. But here’s the catch if NASCAR wants to use this word: NASCAR must put Yunick in the Hall of Fame.
Crooked: This would have extra meaning if a part or piece is well, crooked, in not meeting the specs.
Corrupted: A little harsh? Maybe. A little insinuating something sinister? Possibly. But you can have a hard drive corrupted and that doesn’t mean anyone did anything wrong on purpose.
Dirty: Yes, it implies intent to cheat. But it would add a label that could discourage shenanigans and maybe has potential for some good social talk. “We won the race, now let’s hope it ain’t a dirty.”
Disqualified: This would work only if NASCAR truly took away the trophy and the win from the record book. Now that’s an idea — and a column for another day.