By admin | October 25, 2010
By Richard Allen
After the Sylvania 300 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Clint Bowyer’s car was found to be outside the allowable measurements. As a result, NASCAR levied a heavy fine and suspension against the team’s crew chief and car chief and they hammered the driver and car owner Richard Childress with points reductions. However, when the results for that race are found, Bowyer is still listed as the winner.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, this past Saturday night at the 411 Motor Speedway in Seymour, Tennessee there was a somewhat similar situation. At the end of the O’Reilly’s Steel-Head Nationals, driver Bobby Giffin crossed the finish line first.
However, second place finisher Ryan King put up the necessary money and protested the winning car. When Giffin refused to have his car inspected, King was declared the winner. Giffin was denied the win and all prize money. The results of the race made it look as if he was never there.
So, which solution is the best way to deal with cars found outside the rules?
Is it best to allow the driver who crosses the finish line first to keep a win but hammer him after the fact with penalties? Or, is it best to simply pretend as though that driver was never there by taking away the finishing position and prize money. Also, in the case of NASCAR there would be the issue of removing points earned in the event. The O’Reilly’s race at 411 was not a points paying event so there was no issue in that regard.
In 1978 after a race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway there was a scoring issue which led to a great deal of confusion as to who won that race. At different times throughout the afternoon and night Richard Petty and Donnie Allison were each declared the winner before Allison finally wound up with the trophy.
Even though that race did not involve a rules violation it has had an impact on races that have. Many believe that after the event in Atlanta, NASCAR made the decision to always declare a winner immediately rather than have fans find out later there had been a change.
In the case of the 411 race, some fans(and at least one writer) found out after the fact that there had been a change in the final order.
So which is more important, the fans knowing who won the race before they leave or making sure the race winner was within the rules? The fans leaving the NASCAR race in New Hampshire knew that Bowyer had won and that has not changed despite his infractions. Some fans may have found out after the fact that King, rather than Giffin, had won at 411. But, a driver who had a car outside the rules was not allowed to keep a win.
In my opinion, NASCAR has far too many rules and has totally removed creative innovation out of their form of racing. Having fewer rules but acting with the harshest possible measures when those remaining rules are broken would be the best solution.
In the Bowyer case, his car was in violation by only the slightest of margins. However, it was in violation. According to the way many local tracks are run, his car would have been thrown out.
In the Giffin case, he refused to have his car torn down so the exact violation is not known. According to the way NASCAR is run, he would have been allowed to keep his win but other penalties would have followed.
I believe not so many rules but tougher enforcement of the rules in place is the way to go. What do you think?
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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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