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By fining Hamlin but not Keselowski, NASCAR disregarded its own credibility

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 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**** that’s been the last seven days in this garage area.”

But Keselowski didn’t stop there. “The things that I’ve seen over the last seven days have me questioning everything I believe in and I’m not happy about it,” he said. “I don’t have anything positive to say.

“There’s so much stuff going on, you guys have no idea — you have no ******* idea what’s going on,” Keselowski added. “I can tell you there is no team in this garage with the integrity of the 2 team. The way we’ve been treated over the last seven days is absolute shameful. I feel like we’ve been targeted over the last seven days more than I’ve ever seen a team targeted in my life. My guys keep their heads on straight and they showcased why they’re a winning team and a championship team.”

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 deductions 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, “There’s a lot of room for improvement for this car. Obviously we saw a great finish. It’s gonna be tough. It’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 suggesting 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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9 Responses to “By fining Hamlin but not Keselowski, NASCAR disregarded its own credibility”

  1. Russ Says:
    April 19th, 2013 at 4:56 am

    Rich, Good point. But IMHO their credibility was lost years ago. And, once lost how do you ever regain it? Certainly not by continuing this sort of antics.

  2. Sue Rarick Says:
    April 19th, 2013 at 6:12 am

    For some reason Keslowski seems to be Nascar’s golden boy. Last season it was about how the social media and his Twitter popularity, yet the facts were he was something like the 6th or 7th most popular. Pretty much even with Jimmy Johnson in the number of followers. Nothing like the social media darling Nascar made him out to be.

    If the Bush brothers made half the comments he’s made they’d have been banned for a decade by now.

    The fact that Smokey Yunnick hasn’t even been nominated for the HOF probably says all there is to say about Nascar’s cedibility. Nascar has its favorites and that’s just the way they are. Stock car racing is popular despite Nascar, not because of it.

  3. RC Says:
    April 19th, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Nothing for Brad to do now but get that Cup again.
    Time to move on. Drop the baggage and move on.
    Forgiving is a powerful thing.

  4. Glen H. Says:
    April 19th, 2013 at 9:10 am

    Rich, you’re assuming that NASCAR has any credibility to start with. You do need to have some credibility before you can loose it and NASCAR is about as credible as WWE.

  5. GinaV24 Says:
    April 19th, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Ha, what credibility? NASCAR traded that for $ and a WWE reputation ever since Brainless took over from his father.

  6. Offkilter Says:
    April 19th, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Well, Keselowski is the champion and besides that, the penalties handed down for the rear-end were very severe. They probably figured that was enough. Hamlin’s deal in today’s rapid fire world is old news. Nascar was wrong to fine Hamlin to begin with, so in my opinion, why make that mistake again with the current champion?

  7. RAEckart Says:
    April 19th, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    Brad got his just due. 25 points, $100K and no crew chief, car chief, engineer or team manager THE SAME WEEK was no coincidence.

    That wasn’t the first time they ran that rear end setup, but NASCAR picks its point to “find” the part. And no, NASCAR isn’t hoping to shut Brad up. They’re counting on Roger Penske to straighten things out. Roger’s the best, and NASCAR knows to leave it to him.

  8. Tony Geinzer Says:
    April 19th, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    Rich, Bad As I Got To Be Brad Keselowski is sure not making anyone happy. Trust me, he is loud, obnoxious and inappropriate. But, Denny “All I Do Is Whine Whine Whine No Matter What” Hamlin is going to be a Quagmire as I doubt his temper would have been sanitized no matter what after the IR and worse, FedEx will have to kickball Hamlin as worse, he is more of a Garbage Bowl than a real humanitarian.

  9. Delbert Quagmire Jr. Says:
    April 20th, 2013 at 12:02 am

    The title of your article really jumped out at me, NA$CAR and credibility in the same sentence is a real stretch, don’t you agree ? I was beaten to the punch but NA$CAR has all the credibility of pro wrasslin as far as I am concerned (sorry Glen and Gina). And I absolutely agree that NA$CAR took a serious nosedive when Bills always thirsty little tyke took over and basically turned the greatest and most creative and innovative racing series on the planet into another spec racing yawner. Right down there with Formula 1 as far as excitement and the freedom to improvise goes. Big E is definitely spinning in his grave and the likes of Fireball and the Flock boys wouldn’t recognize NA$CAR today, damn shame.