By admin | October 20, 2010
By Richard Allen
NASCAR seems to best like those who play for the team. They realize that image does matter and they work very hard to see to it that their image is what they want it to be. So, could it be the case that those who buck the system the sanctioning body holds as ideal are punished in one way or another?
For years, there have been people who claim that if someone says something negative toward NASCAR one week their car will have trouble getting through technical inspection the next. And just earlier this year it was revealed that NASCAR had secretly fined a couple of drivers who had spoken their minds and thus done damage to the image of the sport.
For a week now there has been all sorts of debate regarding who made the HoF second class and why. So, knowing that there is proof that NASCAR can levy behind the scenes reprimands, is it possible that Cale Yarborough was left out of this year’s NASCAR Hall of Fame class because he did not attend when Jimmie Johnson tied his record of three consecutive championships?
Back in 2008 Johnson claimed his third consecutive title. Previously, Yarborough had been the only other driver in the modern era to have accomplished such a feat. Much was made of the fact that the retired driver did not make an appearance at the Miami-Homestead Speedway on that evening to be part of the ceremony.
Perhaps even more harmful to Yarborough’s Hall bid was the persistent rumor that he did not attend the Homestead race because he requested an appearance fee for doing so. A fee NASCAR and its partner, International Speedway Corp., refused to pay.
Now remember, Yarborough did show up for the end of season NASCAR banquet for Johnson’s official crowning and played the role of good sport in the process. But, had the damage to ‘the image’ already been done?
In a piece I wrote some time back, I did not select Yarborough as one of my choices for the second class to be inducted into the Hall of Fame but there are many who felt as though he should have been included this time around. His credentials are certainly impressive enough for inclusion. Timing seems to be the only point of debate.
For those who do believe that Yarborough should be making an acceptance speech this coming May the question is whether or not his absence when Johnson tied his mark might have been a deciding factor among the voters. As suggested before, NASCAR has long been suspected as an organization that gets even behind closed doors when it comes to someone harming its image.
As stated before, had I had a vote on the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s second class I would not have included Yarborough but there are many who would have. So in the minds of those who believe he should be in, was he left out because he did not attend Jimmie Johnson’s coronation?
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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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