Helton Says Inspection Process Works

Mike Helton

"We think the decision that was made this week supports the inspection process, because the elements of the penalty that were upheld indicates the inspectors did their jobs correctly." (Photo: Getty Images)

NASCAR president Mike Helton believes despite the appeal process overturning some of Hendrick Motorsports’ penalties the sport’s inspection policy is solid.

Helton addressed last Tuesday’s decision by Chief Appellate Officer John Middlebrook to overturn the driver and owner points penalties assessed the No. 48 team at Daytona as well as rescinding the six race suspensions given to crew chief Chad Knaus and Ron Malec.

Middlebrook leaving the $100,000 fine to Knaus is proof enough to Helton that the inspection did uncover something illegal with the car’s C-Posts as NASCAR has maintained.

“Some of our penalties were upheld,” Helton said Friday addressing the media at Auto Club Speedway. “That tells you that the inspection process was correct and there was an issue with the car.

“The pieces that were not upheld, if there is a way for NASCAR to be more clear, which is what we learn every time we go through the process, whether the penalties are upheld or modified, we learn from the process.”

Helton said there were no plans to modify or change how NASCAR inspects cars going forward and that the sanctioning body is confident the policies in place will continue to do the job of governing the sport.

"We think the decision that was made this week supports the inspection process, because the elements of the penalty that were upheld indicates the inspectors did their jobs correctly," Helton said. "The debate was more about the decision after that point and how we reacted to it."


As for the perception by some that Middlebrook, a former General Motors employee, might have a favored view of the Hendrick appeal given team owner Rick Hendrick’s association with the company, Helton said NASCAR has no question about the Chief Appellate Officer’s credentials or motives.

“When we chose John Middlebrook as our chief appellate officer, we chose him based on our experiences with him for several years and his pragmatic approach to business and his relationship with race teams and with NASCAR,” Helton said.

“The reasons that we chose the current chief appellate officer haven’t changed. Our opinion and belief in our chief appellate officer hasn’t changed.”

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