By admin | September 10, 2013
By Richard Allen
On Monday night, NASCAR hit Michael Waltrip Racing with unprecedented penalties after the sanctioning body determined that the team had manipulated the outcome of Saturday night’s Sprint Cup race at the Richmond International Raceway. According to officials, the MWR team of driver Brian Vickers conspired to give up positions so that teammate Martin Truex, Jr. could become a part of the Chase for the Sprint Cup playoff.
MWR’s Clint Bowyer also spun late in the race which caused a caution and very much affected the race’s finish.
As a result of all this maneuvering, according to NASCAR, Ryan Newman was unfairly knocked out of the playoff. To correct this, officials took 50 points away from Truex as well as from Bowyer and Vickers(the entire MWR organization). The points reduction had little effect on Bowyer and Vickers but Truex fell behind Newman, and thus, lost his Chase berth.
NASCAR also issued an incredible $300,000 fine against MWR, placed the team’s crew chiefs on probation and indefinitely suspended general manager Ty Norris.
In Monday’s press conference, NASCAR president Mike Helton said that the sanctioning body’s credibility was at stake, which was the primary reason for the harsh penalties. He also stated that he realizes the sport’s credibility has been questioned in the past.
“As far as the credibility of the sport, NASCAR has always taken very serious its responsibility to maintain for the most part its credibility,” Helton said. “And I say maintain for the most part, because we get the fact that that’s subjective to fans and others in the industry. But that’s why we’re sitting here tonight explaining why we made the decisions we made, in hopes to explain why we did that and to offer up some reasonableness to our credibility.
“But I think the biggest thing is to remember it’s a sport and it’s got a lot of fun attached to it. Every now and then it gets out of bounds and we have to bring it back in order to maintain credibility.”
The reason why Helton had to attach the rider “for the most part” when talking about the sport’s credibility is that there have been more than a few occasions in which that credibility has been called into question by fans, media and competitors. For example, Tony Stewart once compared the sport to professional wrestling.
Perfectly timed debris cautions, pit road speeding penalties in which the data was once guarded tighter than a bank vault, the wave around, “lucky dogs”, and the biggest manipulation of all…the Chase for the Sprint Cup are used by NASCAR to manipulate races and entire seasons for the purpose of keeping the show interesting and maintaining the interest level of the TV audience.
NASCAR can recognize a manipulator when it sees one.
When MWR did what it did at the end of the Richmond race, it was merely following the lead of the master manipulators. The race team’s biggest fault wasn’t so much that they contrived, it’s that they did such a bad job of it.
This is a sport based on manipulation. Since the inception of the big television contracts in 2001, such as was mentioned above has become commonplace. NASCAR apparently wants its teams to “do as I say and not as I do.” Or at least use better code words.
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