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« Edwards lauds NASCAR for lack of phony caution but will that remain true in Chase? | Main | One race does not make Stewart, Junior contenders…or does it? »

If Menard did spin on purpose his punishment should be severe

By admin | September 18, 2011

By Richard Allen


The Sprint Cup race in Richmond could go down as a turning point in the history of NASCAR should the situation not be resolved properly. If not, then those who cover the sport on a full or part time basis will have legitimate cause to question each and every late race caution flag.

On lap 385 of the Wonderful Pistachios 400 at the Richmond International Raceway driver Paul Menard spun to bring out a caution. That, in turn, helped his teammate, Kevin Harvick, take the lead of the race and go on to the win.

After the race, Jeff Gordon openly questioned whether or not Menard’s spin was legitimate.

Tampering with the natural course of a sporting event is something that must be taken very seriously. Other leagues certainly do. Many know that a player or coach can receive the ultimate punishment from Major League Baseball for doing such by being removed from that sport permanently.

Fans often believe that it is gambling that warrants the lifetime ban, and profiting from so called insider information is damning to the cause of anyone accused of baseball’s ultimate crime, but it is tampering with the legitimate outcome of the event that is most damaging. Such activities bring the sport’s legitimacy into question.

For a sport to be taken seriously, it must be considered legitimate. And in this case, the viewpoints of those who might be considered ‘outsiders’ are critical.

Earlier in the year, ESPN show host Tony Kornheiser was roundly shouted down by NASCAR fans and media when he stated his belief that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was awarded the pole for the Daytona 500 rather than having earned it. While NASCAR fans may not normally consider the opinions of such people worthwhile, it suddenly becomes so when hard evidence is presented to boost their claims.

Oddly enough, Kornheiser was in attendance at Richmond as the guest of Jimmie Johnson when the potentially phony caution flag flew.

When teams arrived in Chicago this weekend, NASCAR announced that they were looking into the claims of last week made by some that Menard’s spin was an intentional move to bring out a caution and aid Harvick. Particularly in question was some of the Richard Childress Racing team radio chatter that may have indicated Menard’s intent.

Ultimately, NASCAR said their investigation found nothing to cause them to act unless new information comes to light.

Obviously, NASCAR could not go back and change the outcome of a race held over a week ago. But, should the sanctioning body find a damning piece of evidence at some time in the future the penalty should be a harsh one.

Unfortunately, there are instances of such behaviors having been tolerated, and even chuckled at, in the sport’s past. A ‘spin’ by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. once in Bristol readily comes to mind.

Am I saying that Menard should be banned permanently if some previously undisclosed radio transmission is uncovered or an admission by someone in the RCR organization comes forth? No, not necessarily. However, the penalty should be severe enough that it discourages further use of the practice.

A suspension for a race or races should be enacted. And more, every team in that driver’s organization should have points deducted since intentionally causing a caution would most likely be done to help a teammate. Just a monetary fine is not enough.

The NASCAR organization has not always been considered trustworthy by some who follow the sport. But any organization that has to make judgment calls will always be brought into question. However, in a case in which clear evidence of tampering is found, harsh actions are necessary. If this proves to be one of those incidents, then NASCAR must defend its honor.

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10 Responses to “If Menard did spin on purpose his punishment should be severe”

  1. Charles Says:
    September 19th, 2011 at 7:21 am

    As far as the phony cautions or spinout, if I was Jeff Gordon, and knowing all the ethic problems that Hendricks organizaion and questable deal I would have kept quiet!

    I have seen times when Hendricks drivers have pulled over to let another get a ‘bonus point”! “Oh I thought they never have team orders”!!!!

    But here Gordon of all people who points a finger at others, remember Hendrick teamate Dale Jr did this very thing and he did admit it! Didnt hear any shouting from Gordon then!

    Nascar itself has more issues about ‘phony debris cautions” and needs to get its act together! While I dont like the idea of fake spin out, I dont like the idea of someone pointing the blame who has some ethic problems themself!

  2. cecil Says:
    September 19th, 2011 at 8:26 am

    I really loseing all respect for RCR. And that is one of my fav teams.

  3. Sue Rarick Says:
    September 19th, 2011 at 8:34 am

    I agree that any sport has to have people believe it is legitimate abd creditable. And that is where NASCAR is dropping the ball.

    I listened to the shows on Speed and ESPN Sunday. On the Speed show they defended both Menard and NASCAR with a defense that was similar to a person defending murder because people are going to die anyway. On ESPN they were saying that if it walks talks and acts like a duck, it’s probably a duck. Two totally different takes on the same subject.

    I have a saying that covers this; “Never let fact get in the way of reality”. What people believe happened is more important than any provable fact. Many people also believe that at this point NASCAR is now part of the perceived cover-up. And as any politician will tell you, the cover-up always causes more problems that what is being covered up.

    The audio is out. It sounds damaging. Rather than people saying “prove it”, they should be putting out evidence that it wasn’t true. Till that happens people will draw their own conclusions from the audio available. And NASCAR risks becoming less than legitiment.

  4. neil Says:
    September 19th, 2011 at 8:55 am

    I just have two questions, why does a Teammate 80 laps down need to know all the info being given to him about the 1 and 2 drivers? And then why would they be discussing whether they needed a caution or not? Doe sound a little fishy to me.

  5. Mike Says:
    September 19th, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Although I doubt the 27 spun on purpose, what would you expect NASCAR to do? Part of team sports is helping teammates when possible. I expect every driver that is part of a team and out of contention in a race, will do whatever they can to help a teammate finish on top. In this case there was some radio chatter that sounded fishy to some listeners. No proof exisits there were orders to the 27 to spin, Childress said it didn’t happen and there is no way to prove it did. There are more innovative ways to have a driver spin than by ordering it over a radio hundreds of folks are listening to.

  6. Pete Says:
    September 19th, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Charles, Junior pulled his fake spin at Bristol far before it was even dreamt that he’d end up at Hendrick way back in 2004. ALL teams allow teammates to lead laps, not just Hendrick. Not sure why you think Gordon or HMS has “ethics problems” but sounds to me like it’s just biased hatred for the organization - in which case, get over yourself.

  7. mr clause Says:
    September 19th, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Just gonna toss this out there. The single thing that is missing is that Menard returned to the track 80 laps down to put some perceived payback to the 17. I think that too was talked about openly. With the 29 in the lead a caution for that wouldn’t have been helpful. If you add this to your thought process the audio might take a different track.

    BUT, if you listen to the audio and pay attention to the “tire problem” and then see the tire still full of air even after the spin you’ve got to wonder even more.

    So in the end we are still left guessing at was it payback to the 17 or to help the 29? Still sad that so many feel that NASCAR is lacking enough in credibility and integrity that they can’t be trusted enough by the fans that supports this sport to render an honest determination.

  8. Steve Says:
    September 19th, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    So NASCAR can have bogus cautions for debris that don’t show up but teams can’t do it?

  9. Chris Fiegler Says:
    September 19th, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    Do you think that Paul Menard should be fined or suspended for that spin?

  10. Charles Says:
    September 20th, 2011 at 5:41 am


    When it comes to ethics, I would put any team ahead of Hendrick !Chad has had as many of ‘GRAY AREAS’ of the rule books as any!

    Hendrick its owner has had enough in the past to get pardon from Bill Clinton! Enough said!

    As far as Jr, I said he admitted it, and he would have been much much better off staying with Tresia Earnhardts organization!!

    You comments come from a fan who likes the “status quo”, mabe some of the others would like to be entertained once in a while!!!