Many in the NASCAR garage didn’t like the severity of the Stenhouse penalty

They think it's duplicitous when considering how it was marketed

NASCAR: Bluegreen Vacations Duel 1 at Daytona
Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

There are a lot of people in the NASCAR garage that didn’t like the decision to penalize Ricky Stenhouse Jr. $75,000 for throwing a punch at Kyle Busch and instigating a melee involving the JTG Daugherty Racing No. 47 and Richard Childress Racing No. 8 teams.

The most common complain from inside the sport was that it always appears disingenuous for the league to both penalize a driver for fighting under the guise of ‘actions detrimental to stock car racing’ while also reaping the benefits of the mainstream attention it provides.

That was certainly how Chase Elliott felt on Saturday afternoon upon being made aware that this was the monetary amount.

“That seems like a lot for that situation,” Elliott said. “You are going to fine him, but you are going to promote with it? Like, what are we doing? That’s a little strange to me. … That’s a lot of money to fine a guy. It’s like, ‘It’s not okay but we are going to blast it all over everything to get more clicks.’”

Other examples:

On his Dale Jr Download podcast, Dale Earnhardt Jr. dismissed the reasons expressed by NASCAR’s Elton Sawyer too.

“Whatever that means,” he said. “That means nothing to me.”

Earnhardt said NASCAR reached that $75,000 number, the largest in the history of the sport for fighting, because of the amount of attention it received.

“I feel like, how we got to this big $75,000 penalty for Stenhouse is because that happened on such a large stage, that happened in front of so many cameras, cell phones, all of the media was involved, it was people spilling about in this massive brawl, and NASCAR was part of the promotion of that big moment, right?” Earnhardt said.

Earnhardt doesn’t mind a penalty for fighting but said the number, at its foundational core, should have been a lot smaller.

“I think, really if you strip away all of it being glamorized, if you strip all of that away, a $25,000 for Ricky makes sense,” Earnhardt said.

“[NASCAR] had to say, I get kind of where they’re coming from, ‘The attention that’s getting, we’re not going to say it out in the public but it’s good. But we do need to make sure we send a message that this can’t be the norm.’ And I agree with that. I don’t think we need fighting every week and drivers just going nuts on each other over nothing.

“So, yeah, penalize him, I think he should have been penalized, I just thought it was a little overreacting and overblown because of how sensationalized and overblown it had gotten. Otherwise, I don’t know how to make sense of the amount of money he got fined, but hey. I’m sure there’s some examples where it falls in line with penalties in the past. I’m not sure. But that’s kind of my take on it.”

Joey Logano says he doesn’t understand how this punch was worth $75,000, Ross Chastain punching Noah Gragson didn’t receive any fine, and other punches have been all across the board.

“I think, really, what we all want is consistency and knowing what the rule is and what’s okay and what’s not okay,” said the two-time champion. “That’s really all you ask for. Whether it’s the car or restarts or altercations apparently, just let me know the rules, is what I want to know. What is the price I’m about to pay if I make this decision and is it worth it?

“That’s really how it’s got to be, is just looking for consistency in that to where it’s the same all the time, and I know it’s hard to do. That’s a lot to ask for because every situation could be a little bit different. It’s a judgment call. There’s no black and white.”

For his part, Stenhouse doesn’t understand why the number was so severe too.

“I would say a little confused at some of it,” Stenhouse said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Wednesday.

He said that he’s “a little confused at the whole situation,” but “that’s part of it, that’s NASCAR’s rule book. They can do what they please and we’re going to go race this weekend at Charlotte as if anything didn’t happen and put our foot forward in regards to that.”

As far as an appeal, he hasn’t reached a decision on that, mostly because ‘this is the first time I’ve ever been in trouble,’ and he just doesn’t understand the process yet.

Matt Weaver is a Motorsports Insider for Sportsnaut. Follow him on Twitter.

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