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No conspiracies here as NASCAR could have made Junior a winner

By admin | May 30, 2011

By Richard Allen

It has been claimed by a number of observers that, given the opportunity, NASCAR would do whatever it took to make Dale Earnhardt, Jr. a winner. There is little doubt that a win by the sport’s most popular driver would benefit the sanctioning body which causes those who have made the conspiracy claims to believe NASCAR might be willing to lend a helping hand to his cause.

On Sunday night in the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR had that very opportunity, but instead, allowed the race to play out to its full conclusion and thus saw Junior fall short in his bid to end a losing streak that dates back nearly three years.

The Memorial Day weekend classic at the Charlotte Motor Speedway turned into a fuel mileage contest in its latter stages as a caution flag that waved with just over 50 laps remaining allowed teams to pit their cars just inside, or outside, their window for making it to the end. Junior, who was one of the drivers with a chance to stretch his gas to the finish, appeared poised for victory when he restarted on the front row for a late race green/white/checker finish.

When the final green flag waved, Kasey Kahne, Junior’s fellow front row starter in the double-file alignment, was unable to get up to speed as his fuel tank emptied. Kahne’s dilemma created a bottleneck through the field which eventually resulted in several cars making contact and spinning to the track apron.

With Junior’s fuel supply almost exhausted, he shot to a sizeable lead over the scrambling pack behind him.

It was at this point where conspiracy theorists like ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser, who after Daytona qualifying claimed that NASCAR placed Earnhardt on the pole to garner more attention for that race, were debunked. Had the sport’s bosses really wanted to ensure that Junior would win, they could have turned on the yellow lights just after the 88 car sailed under the flagman’s stand to take the white flag. At that point, all the driver would have needed to do would be to coast around at slow speed to the finish line.

It would have been easy to claim that there was left over debris in the area of the earlier spin. Instead of doing that, however, NASCAR officials left the green lights on and allowed the cars to race back to the checkered flag. By doing so, the officials caused Junior to run full speed and thus empty his tank about one-half mile before the race’s conclusion.

Kevin Harvick had received a boost under the final caution when teammate Paul Menard pushed him around the track with the engine on the 29 car shut off. This legal strategy allowed Harvick to save just enough gas to bypass the coasting Junior and score the win.

Even though the sanctioning body may have gone a long way toward debunking one conspiracy theory, they opened the door for another criticism. In the race’s early stages there were at least two cautions for beverage cans on the track. On the last lap a yellow flag was not displayed even though several cars had spun. Inconsistent rulings in the late laps of races have placed NASCAR in the firing line of critics for some time now. And after Sunday night, that promises to continue for a long while.

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14 Responses to “No conspiracies here as NASCAR could have made Junior a winner”

  1. victoria_29 Says:
    May 30th, 2011 at 10:50 am

    The earlier debris cautions were a bunk, however the last call not to throw the caution was the right move. Fans hate races ending under cautions, that was suppose to be the whole purpose of the green, white, checkered-although since they stop race at white flag if they throw a yellow that still doesn’t solve the problem. What NASCAR really needs to do is make it so checkers is under green, way too many races are won by last lap passes & when you get a freebie lap after white flag-that stops the last lap pass.

  2. Kevin Says:
    May 30th, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Thanks for a great article Rich. Couldn’t agree with you more. It is unfortunate that the other ‘columnists’ don’t actually do any research to provide substance to their theories that NASCAR is trying to unfairly help Jr into victory lane.
    There were absolutely zero wrecks and zero blown tires on the final lap as a result of the wreck the lap prior. No need to throw the caution when the race can finish under green with no risk to the competitors.

  3. Russ Edwards Says:
    May 30th, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    As long as there is inconsistency with the enforcement of the rules the claims will go on. Certainly they have a history of questionable calls, and that only fuels the fire.

    I didnt watch, but my thought, from listening on the radio, was that since Jr. had a lead they thought he could coast in.

  4. tyler west Says:
    May 31st, 2011 at 6:15 am

    They are way too inconsistant with their calls. Especially when it comes to the 88. Seriously, they act like the sport will die if he does not win. Maybe they should quit dwelling on the fact. If he wins, fine, but if he does not who cares. If the folks on TV would quit being so biased when it comes to Junior maybe they would figure out how to improve their product. I thought it was awesome when he and his “great Hendrick” team came up short and add to it that Kahne also rolled over for him. To me it made the whole evening. When he does finally win they will probably stop the press and make it a National Holliday. Nascar’s biggest issue is that everything they do seems to revolve around Hendrick Motorsports. Give me a break!! Loved it when he fell short, it reminded me as of when Senior used to lose the 500 until finally capturing it in 1998. Plus, I guess it was not ment to be for either National Guard car to bring home a victory this weekend. It made for some intense moments! And some tough breaks.

  5. Russ Edwards Says:
    May 31st, 2011 at 8:11 am

    Food for thought: What does it say when a sizable part of the most passionate fans dont trust the integrity of the sanctioning body? Is it just their passion? Or is this why the sport hasnt been able to return to its heyday?

  6. jerseygirl Says:
    May 31st, 2011 at 10:59 am

    I’m not a fan of his, but I also have nothing against Jr, but NASCAR certainly gave the appearance of bias in favor of Jr with their handling of the GWC at the 600. Also having DW in the booth carrying on with his massive man crush on various drivers - Jr and Kylie being 2 of them takes away from the coverage.

    IMO, I feel like the inconsistency that NASCAR has about enforcing its rules while still putting a mediocre product on the track every week doesn’t help them at all.

  7. Fro81 Says:
    May 31st, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Why has no one brought up, I think it was 08 when Harvick & Martin were battling for the Daytona 500 win & Clint B was on his roof & more cars were involved, but no caution came out…….when it’s late in the race, is when they are their most consistent about throwing or non throwing of the yellow……

  8. Brooks Says:
    May 31st, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    NASCAR made the right call at the end of the race, everyone drove away, for once, they didn’t overreact to something. And Victoria29, i agree with you, that it should end under green. A lot of people don’t know this, but in ARCA, even if the white flag is displayed and a crash happens on the last lap, the race is not over. The yellow comes out, and they have a 1 lap finish. Basically, it’s a green and white, then checkered finish lol. I’d like to see NASCAR adpot that rule.

  9. JR Says:
    May 31st, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Anyone with a brain and not wearing “Junior” blinders could see what the intent was on the final restart. It was not a “theory”, it was what actually happened.

  10. Donny Says:
    May 31st, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    No conspiracies? Are you freaking kidding me? Jeff Burton was all but stopped in the middle of the track and Jr had a huge lead. Throwing a caution would have been the right thing to do. Not throwing it after Jr crosses the stripe for the white flag because we all know, esp those in attendance who were not jr fans that there was stuff all over the track. It would have been great for Jr to come out of turn 2 and wipe out Burton just to prove the fact that those idiots in the scoring tower need to become a little more consistent. Jr had a huge lead so why would they make it more obvious that they were trying to hand him a win?

  11. Ken Says:
    May 31st, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Of course NASCAR would have thrown the caution after the white flag if they had known Jr. was going to run out of gas. However, he was far ahead of the field and they didn’t know he was going to run out of gas. It would have been far more thrilling if he won at full speed as they fully expected.

    Comparing NASCAR with professional wrestling is not fair to professional wrestling.

  12. Jeff Says:
    May 31st, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Jeff Burton got out of the way, and never really stayed in place and got moving again. The field was spread out and their was no reason for a caution. Everybody want’s to call four every time NASCAR and Earnhardt are involved. You people with you silly ego’s wanna believe everything is against your driver because none of them have the popularity of Earnhardt. Everybody with a scanner at the track or Trackpass on the computer knew the 88 was 1/2 a lap short with 10 to go, including NASCAR. Had the 48 not blown or them not throwing the caution for the blown motor, Earnhardt likely would have won considering they would not have been in overtime. I work in NASCAR in the garage for a race team. People want to believe that NASCAR plans it out play by play is simply an ignorant fool with no self confidence and happiness in their own lives except to try to make other as miserable as they are. They hate Earnhardt only because others like him, which only makes him more popular, just like his daddy. People love to hate em.

  13. Overra88ted Says:
    May 31st, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Na$crap would have thrown the caution in a heartbeat if Dale Jr. had been in 2nd place when that crash occured. What was really Shocking was Na$crap not letting Dale Jr. pass the pace car 3 times under caution like they did 3 years ago at Michigan when Dale Jr. won the only race he’s won in the last 5 years.

  14. Marybeth Says:
    May 31st, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    I think that if Nascar wanted to fix the race for Jr., they would not have thrown the yellow after JJ blew up. From what I could see he got off the track.