By admin | September 25, 2010
By Richard Allen
Not even the John Kennedy assassination can stir up conspiracy theories like NASCAR. Earlier this week, the Richard Childress Racing team of driver Clint Bowyer was hammered with one of the harshest penalties the sanctioning body has ever handed down. Immediately, folks started to offer reasons as to why the penalty was so harsh and as to why it was needed at all.
After posting a column titled ‘Bowyer team either arrogant of foolish’ I received a number of posted comments, e-mails, twitter and Facebook responses and conversation thoughts about the subject. Almost universally, ideas were suggested that there was more to the story than the public is being allowed to know.
Comment poster JR believes that RCR has been up to something for more than a race or two. “RCR cars did poorly in 2009. RCR cars do great in 2010. Now we know why,” he wrote.
This thought was also conveyed to me by some friends I work with who reasoned that the Childress teams had been allowed all season to get away with something so they could make the Chase for the Championship in order to get or appease sponsors after a poor 2009 but that the ‘issues’ would have to be corrected once the playoff started. Hence, the confiscation of Bowyer’s #33 car after both the Richmond and New Hampshire races.
I do not necessarily believe this particular theory. However, the thought is an intriguing one. And furthermore, the poor qualifying efforts of all three RCR cars in Dover adds flames to this conspiracy fire.
Should the RCR cars run poorly as a team on Sunday, it will be harder to deny this line of thinking.
Another poster to my previous Bowyer story believes this is all a trick by NASCAR to get people to tune in to the Dover telecast.
Conspiracy theorist KAN writes, “NASCAR just had TV ratings show the biggest drop-off in viewership for the first race of the Chase. Next day – huge controversy over illegal car by a few sheets of paper. What an amazing coincidence!! I have absolutely no faith in the integrity of sanctioning officials at this point in time. The officials won’t provide the specifics once again. More super secret findings behind closed doors that the average fan has to accept as the truth. Just one more reason to shut the TV off and find a better way to spend my time.”
KAN is correct in saying that the ratings for the ESPN broadcast of the New Hampshire race were a disaster in the first weekend of NASCAR vs. the NFL. However, it seems unlikely that this is the type of thing that would cause very many people to tune in for an entire broadcast. It could possibly cause a quick view type scenario in which people flip over to the race just long enough to see where the RCR cars are running during a football game commercial, but if NASCAR is resorting to these type of shenanigans to boost ratings they are more desperate than even I thought.
And still another scenario was proposed by longtime conspiracy theorist and Hendrick scorner, Marybeth. She says this is all a plot to assure a fifth title for HMS driver Jimmie Johnson. She opined, “Last year, when the 5 & 48 had ‘problematic’ cars, they did not get 150 point & cc loss. That is back when the 5 & 48 were still made in the same garage.
“NASCAR spent an extended amount of inspection time with the #11-Denny Hamlin and #48-Jimmie Johnson cars which failed to pass the height sticks in the first attempt.” I do not believe that RCR would be warned one week & not make sure it was correct the next week. They passed 3 inspections before and after the race. Do you suppose that they see Clint as a serious threat to JJ winning his 5th so they are removing the threat now…?
& they wonder why attendance & ratings are down. As someone said, Kevin Harvick won the championship this year. It is easier to fix 10 races than 36.”
Based on his finish in New Hampshire, Johnson may need a great deal more help. So, if Marybeth’s theory is correct there could be more penalties on the way.
Nothing can stir up good conspiracy talk like a NASCAR ruling. Whether there is anything at all to any of this or not, many people believe there is. Unfortunately for NASCAR, a past history of inconsistent rulings often veiled in secrecy has only served to aid these types of ideas.
It may very well be that the simple fact of the matter was Clint Bowyer’s car was out of compliance and the team was punished for that and that alone. However, there are more than a few people out there like JR, KAN and Marybeth and NASCAR has done as much to encourage these folks as anyone.
Follow @RacingWithRich on twitter.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
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