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There will be more cries of conspiracy if Junior wins

By admin | February 18, 2011

By Richard Allen

After Dale Earnhardt, Jr. claimed the pole position the Daytona 500, Tony Kornheiser of the ESPN’s PTI(Pardon The Interruption) indicated that he thought Junior’s pole win was a little too good to be true.

“There are people in and around the NASCAR world, not just drivers but people who cover the sport, who are winking at this one,” Kornheiser said. “Who are wondering if this wasn’t a setup because it’s the pole position.”

Kornheiser’s jab came as a result of a conversation he had had earlier in the day with Liz Clarke, a writer for the Washington Post who once served as a NASCAR beat writer for various newspapers. In that conversation Clarke had told Kornheiser that, “people who covered racing for a long time, a lot were just laughing when they heard Junior won the pole because of the rich NASCAR tradition of ginning up storylines and outcomes. There’s a lot of questions still about Richard Petty’s 200th win, which came the day Ronald Reagan was there. Everything Americana happened to fall into place that particular day.”

Anyone who has been around racing for any length of time would realize that fixing something such as a pole position win or an entire race would be a difficult proposition. Junior turned in a qualifying speed of 186.089 compared to Jeff Gordon’s second place lap of 185.966. That’s an awfully tight range for a fix to have been in place.

However, with that said, should Earnhardt go on to win the Daytona 500 on Sunday there will be plenty more claims like that made by Kornheiser. It would seemingly make for too good of a story when the downtrodden son of the former champion wins NASCAR’s biggest race on the ten year anniversary of his father’s death.

In reference to Clarke’s assertion that NASCAR has had more than a few coincidental ‘perfect scenario’ type races, there is historical evidence of times in which things have worked out very well for the sanctioning body.

The 1979 Daytona 500 in which a snow bound east coast watched Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison duke it out(literally) on the last lap while Richard Petty sailed to victory was a best case scenario for NASCAR to be sure. But how would something like that ever be arranged?

The race at Daytona in July of 2001 in which Junior won at the track on which his father had just recently been killed seemed almost too good to be true. Some even theorized that Junior’s car had been fitted with a so called ‘golden restrictor plate’. To that the question has to be asked, have you ever known of a secret from inside the NASCAR garage being kept for any length of time?

And, of course, there is the 1984 Firecracker 400 referenced by Clarke. I was at that race and would find it difficult to believe that Cale Yarborough willingly moved aside to let Richard Petty win. Cale looked like he was trying pretty hard to me.

Conspiracy theorists need to be aware that fixing a full length auto race would be even more difficult than arranging for a certain driver to win a pole, as difficult as that would be. During 500 miles of racing there will be crashes, blown tires, mechanical failures, botched pit stops and about a million other possibilities that could ruin the fix.

But even with these facts being evident to most who follow racing on a regular basis, the non-racing general public could be easily swayed by a talking head such as Kornheiser. And it must be kept in mind that the purpose of shows such as PTI is not necessarily to be factual, but to be provocative. These type programs get ratings by saying controversial things that will cause people to watch. In a sense, it is a sort of tabloid television.

So, if Dale Earnhardt, Jr. wins the Daytona 500 on Sunday it will sound too good to be true to some like Kornheiser. And these attention seeking types will cry “Fix!” and they will do so loudly. Be prepared.

To any who have visited this website on a somewhat regular basis it is rather obvious that few have been more critical of the NASCAR organization than I have. However, to claim that a fix is on goes beyond disagreements over the Chase for the Championship or the Car of Tomorrow, or even ‘lucky dogs’ and debris cautions. It challenges the legitimacy of the sport.

If NASCAR were to be caught in some sort of conspiracy to fix races their legitimacy would be ruined and the sport would prove to be a dead entity. It would be a dangerous game, one I would find difficult to believe even the current leadership of NASCAR would dare engage in.

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6 Responses to “There will be more cries of conspiracy if Junior wins”

  1. Richard Allen Says:
    February 19th, 2011 at 12:06 am

    After the posting of this piece in which I went to bat for NASCAR by saying they would not dare to “fix” a race, Michael Waltrip scored an emotional victory in the Camping World Truck Series race in Daytona. With February 18th marking the 10th Anniversary of his first Daytona 500 win and the death of Dale Earnhardt, Sr. it seemed as though another of those storybook endings had played out.

    Trouble is, Waltrip won the race with half of his rear spoiler clearly in violation of the required angle that is to be maintained. Instead of taking the victory away, it was allowed to stand.

    NASCAR does not make it easy on those who try to defend them against such claims as were made by Tony Kornheiser.

  2. Russ Edwards Says:
    February 19th, 2011 at 9:04 am

    There are a lot of secrets that have gotten out. Generally by former employees of teams. These can be easily brushed aside as “sour grapes”, “disgruntled employee”, etc.
    However, one needs to remember that teams and team members may not blow the whistle on these things. After all a team could have trouble getting their car through inspection afterwards. Or, a crewman could be needing a job from the team he blew the whistle on.

    And as you point out incidents like Waltrips win just add fuel to the never ending fire.

  3. Charles Says:
    February 19th, 2011 at 9:07 am

    I dont usually watch much truck racing but I saw the last few laps of the race and got to thinking the same thing!

    I mean was is just a happenstance Darrell Waltrip was calling a truck race???

    Painting the truck with Napa, same scheme, number 15, plus he never had won a truck race as well! The same day Dale Sr died 10 years ago!!!!!! A almost perfect replay of Daytona 2001!

    Look I know with wrecks and engine issues tire blowing a race cannot be completely rigged! But they can tilt it so the goal is lowered as to make it easier for the ball to go in! I would have never believed that in the 1970s

    But to me this is a “perfect example” on how extreme Nascars Marketing department will go in the name of entertainment instead of a sporting event to make money!

    Its seemly becoming “a show” instead of a professional race event!

    Bet you will get to see “this truck” in the money losing Nascar Hall of Fame we tax payers are helping pay for!

  4. Sue Rarick Says:
    February 19th, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Rich, Rich, Rich … The right half of the spoiler broke between turns 3 and 4 on the last lap. I doubt they would even have time to get out the black flag, let alone wave it.

    Everyone is saying it made the truck faster, but did it?
    By losing downforce on the right side it would make the right side rise, adding drag and slowing the truck down. By reducing downforce it totally changed the handling of the truck which was actually more detrimental to the truck considering it was in the middle of turning and overtaking. It would be like overtaking with a tire going down.

    As for Kornheiser…. The best that can be said about him is he projects his ignorance with authority.

  5. Mr. Tony Geinzer Says:
    February 19th, 2011 at 10:46 am

    I feel certain folks want to play on the dough, IE in the face of other leagues Labor Talks Crashing, and what I find is DO SOMETHING REAL LIKE MOPAR, man!

  6. Richard Allen Says:
    February 19th, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Sue, Sue, Sue

    There is video evidence of the spoiler off well before the last turn.

    Yes, removing the spoiler would make the truck considerably faster on the straightaway.

    And last, the black flag doesn’t matter in the least. There is an offical on pit road to measure spoiler angles after the race, not just when a black flag has been put out.