By admin | April 18, 2013
By Richard Allen
After the NRA 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway, 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski offered up a stinging criticismof the sanctioning body. According to the driver(as outlined in the USA Today piece by Jeff Gluck linked above), NASCAR unfairly has targeted his team for penalties.
Prior to the running of the race on Saturday night, the cars to be driven by Keselowski and his Penske Racing teammate, Joey Logano, had parts confiscated by NASCAR. After officials found the rear-end housing of both cars to not be to their liking, a change was ordered and both of those cars were made to start at the rear of the field. Inspectors used the phrase “not in the spirit of the rule” to describe the pieces in question.
It was in the post-race interview following his 9th place finish that Keselowski lashed out against NASCAR. According to this storyposted at SportingNews.com by Bob Pockrass, the defending Sprint Cup champion declared “I don’t have a lot of good things to say right now… I take that back. I have one thing to say and that was my team and the effort they put in today in fighting back with the absolute bull**** thatâ€™s been the last seven days in this garage area.”
But Keselowski didn’t stop there. â€œThe things that Iâ€™ve seen over the last seven days have me questioning everything I believe in and Iâ€™m not happy about it,” he said. “I donâ€™t have anything positive to say.
â€œThereâ€™s so much stuff going on, you guys have no idea â€” you have noÂ ******* idea whatâ€™s going on,â€ Keselowski added. â€œI can tell you there is no team in this garage with the integrity of the 2 team. The way weâ€™ve been treated over the last seven days is absolute shameful. I feel like weâ€™ve been targeted over the last seven days more than Iâ€™ve ever seen a team targeted in my life. My guys keep their heads on straight and they showcased why theyâ€™re a winning team and a championship team.â€
As harsh as these accusations were, they drew no penalty from the organization charged with running the sport. NASCAR chairman Brian France stated during a television interview held earlier this week that the sanctioning body had no intention of punishing its defending champion for his comments. Granted, it could be argued that the severity of the penalty eventually assessed for the actual violations found on the #2 and #22 cars(25 point deductionsÂ along with fines and suspensions of multiple crew members) more than made up for the non-penalty for the driver’s words.
Upon hearing that there was no penalty for Keselowski, many wondered why he was treated differently than Denny Hamlin had been earlier this season.
Following the Sprint Cup in Phoenix, Hamlin declared that,Â â€œThereâ€™s a lot of room for improvement for this car. Obviously we saw a great finish. Itâ€™s gonna be tough. Itâ€™s gonna take a little while for us to get these cars driving as good as we had with the Generation-5.”
For those seemingly benign remarks, Hamlin was hit with a $25,000 fine.
So what was the difference? NASCAR and its supporters claim that free speech is allowed in all areas, except when it comes to their car and the level of competition. In making such a claim, NASCAR is essentially saying that it is OK to question their very integrity as long as those in question say the playing field looks nice.
To me, this would be as if there were a press conference held after an NBA game in which a player from one team said that the ball used for that night’s game was a bit slick and he had a hard time getting a grip on it. And for that the player was hit with a big fine.
While on the other side, one of the players claimed that the game officials were obviously trying to hurt his team’s cause and essentially rigging the outcome of the game. In turn, that player was not punished in any way.
Isn’t credability THE most important thing to any sports sanctioning body? Fans, media and the competitors have to be sure that the outcomes of events are legitimate, or else, there is no reason to attend, report or participate. That is the very reason for sanctioning bodies to take such hard stances on gambling as in the cases of the 1919 Chicago White Sox and Pete Rose.
By allowing a competitor to question their credibility and doing nothing in response, NASCAR hurt itself. That is especially true after the strong action they took against another competitor for merely suggestingÂ the car in use doesn’t handle as well as drivers and crews would like.
If NASCAR wants to fine people for talking about their car, that’s their call. But they can’t allow their credibility as an officiating body be questioned.
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