By admin | April 6, 2008
Maybe that oil cover thing was an accident after all
By Richard Allen
Carl Edwards won the race in Las Vegas. However, after the customary back flip his car failed its post race inspection.
At issue was a cover located just behind the driver’s seat that is supposed to be placed over an oil tank. The cover had come off at some point between pre-race inspection and the end of the race.
Since NASCAR mandates that the cover is to be on and securely fastened, Edwards and his team were hit with a hefty fine, a 100 point deduction and the suspension of crew chief Bob Osborne for six races.
Jack Roush, owner of car #99, insisted the cover had come off when a bolt meant to hold it in place had failed. He pointed out a number of Nationwide Series teams had been cited for the same infraction in Daytona and his team would not have been foolish enough to purposely defy that rule knowing NASCAR was on the lookout for the violation.
Many accepted Roush’s plea of innocence with an “Oh, Sure,” accompanied by a wink and an elbow nudge of the person standing next to them. Some, on the other hand, responded with accusations of outright cheating by the Roush Fenway team.
Toyota’s Lee White was among those who did not buy Roush’s story. He claimed that the removal of the oil cap provided a significant advantage by adding down force to the car. He said he knew this because of wind tunnel tests done by his Toyota teams. Roush responded by wondering aloud why Toyota was testing something they knew to be illegal.
Ultimately, the proof would be in the results. If Edwards performance on tracks similar to the 1.5 mile Las Vegas facility fell off significantly then it would be fair to reason that the RFR team had gained an advantage from the missing oil cover.
Since the race in question, there have been two other races held on 1.5 mile tracks. In both of those races Edwards has been every bit as dominate as he was in Las Vegas. He was leading and appeared on his way to victory in Atlanta until mechanical problems forced him to the garage early. On Sunday in Texas the #99 car lead the most laps and, aside from having to endure a couple of late race cautions, again cruised to a win. So, the results are in.
There may be no way of knowing whether or not the bolt in question failed intentionally or not, but what can be seen is that the removed oil cap provided no substantial performance enhancement. If it would have been foolish for RFR to remove the cover on purpose in Las Vegas it would have been completely insane to ‘allow’ it to fail again.
Maybe that oil tank cover thing was an accident after all. Perhaps, with the redemption attained from Edwards’ win in Texas, it will be Jack Roush who will be turning back flips.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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