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ANDERS: Air gun issue a black eye

NASCAR Las Vegas Auto Racing
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Kevin Harvick drives during a NASCAR Cup series auto race, Sunday, March 4, 2018, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

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NASCAR Las Vegas Auto Racing
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By JORDAN ANDERS
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, March 10, 2018

NASCAR's decision to issue standardized pit guns to all of its teams was and still is a noble concept.

Its implementation, on the other hand, has been suspect, and that's putting it lightly.

Three races into the season, every Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race has been plagued with a slew of malfunctioning guns that have cost drivers time and spots on the race track.

It hasn't slowed down Kevin Harvick, who has had issues each of the last two weeks only to rebound and spank the field, but the equipment issues appear to not be discriminatory by team or manufacturer.

NASCAR implemented a policy whereby it distributes a uniform pit gun each week as a way to cut back on the advantage bigger teams had by being able to invest thousands of dollars in developing guns that were faster and better than those that could be produced by smaller teams.

It was meant as a way to help even the field. Over the first three weeks, it has been more like a lottery to see which driver is going to get burned on a pit stop.

NASCAR has been proactive to try and fix the issues, but the fact the endeavor has been so plagued with issues doesn't speak well to the preparation that went in.

If the sanctioning body is going to start distributing equipment, it has to ensure the equipment is going to work. Much in the same way NASCAR and Goodyear share the responsibility for making sure the tires hold up, NASCAR has that responsibility with the mandated air guns.

It's likely the situation gets worked out as the year goes along, but the fact it has been a recurring issue through nearly a month of the season isn't the best look for a sport that doesn't always have a sparkling reputation.

Harvick’s Hundredth: I mentioned Harvick spanking the field at Las Vegas, the second straight week in which he’s done that. He sure didn’t waste much time blowing through the narrative in this column from a week ago.

That win was his 100th in NASCAR’s three major national touring series. He’s one of only four drivers to hit that mark, joining Richard Petty, Kyle Busch and David Pearson.

That’s pretty elite company.

It wasn’t without incident, though. Harvick was penalized Wednesday after a violation was found with his car at NASCAR’s Research and Development Center regarding his rear window, which was noted during the race to be bowed and not rigid as it should be.

Stewart-Haas Racing said the issue was due to a part failure, but NASCAR docked Harvick 20 driver points and suspended his car chief for two weeks — among other things. The interesting part of the conversation during last week was that much of it began as photos of the car began circulating on social media, with fans opining on the state of the window and raising the issue of whether it was advantageous.

Harvick decried social media’s role in the penalty this weekend at Phoenix Raceway, likening it to the way viewers could email and point out infractions in golf. The PGA, thankfully and finally, abolished that rule, but Harvick said he was worried about whether fans could initiate penalties in similar situations.

Harvick’s issue likely would have been found at the R&D Center anyway, as his car was automatically taken back and torn down due to his winning the race. I agree, though, that fans trying to police the sport is only going to end poorly for everyone involved.

Me? I’d rather stick to watching the race and letting the sport police itself, all while trying my hardest not to engage the trolls on Twitter.

PREDICTION

He's won two in a row. He kind of owns Phoenix. Harvick is low-hanging fruit, but what are you going to do? PICK: Kevin Harvick.

Contact Jordan Anders at janders@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @ReflectorJordan on Twitter.

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