Let’s call it style over substance.
NASCAR has officially stricken the term “encumbered” from its rule book. It’s a move overdue since the term was more a focus of jokes and ridicule among drivers than an actual threat. Yahoo.com has a nice screen grab of the new section where instead of rewriting it, NASCAR crossed the word out.
What the change means, though, is basically nothing. NASCAR instituted the term in 2016 to say a driver who fails post-race inspection can’t use their finish and any points gained from that race towards the playoffs. They keep the win, but not the benefits of the win. The change is in name only, though.
As nbcsports.com points out, the rules still state that any team receiving an L1 of L2 penalty during the race or after it, the finish won’t count toward playoff eligibility, playoff points, advancement in the playoffs, or determining the final four drivers in the title race. If NASCAR wanted to really make a statement about questionable practices (aka cheating), they would get rid of wins instead of a word nobody liked. Strip a driver and team of the title from Daytona, say, and I’ll bet fewer teams will be willing to chance it.