By admin | March 10, 2008
Why doesn’t NASCAR take wins away?
By Richard Allen
Carl Edwards’ car did not pass a post race inspection after his victory in Las Vegas. Many fans and casual observers alike have asked the question, “Why not take the win away?”
The answer, at least in part, may be related to a race held at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, but not this past Sunday’s race.
The race held in the fall of 1978 in Atlanta, a race I attended as an 11 year old, might help show why NASCAR does not take wins away after the fact. That race did not involve a rules infraction, but rather, confusion in regard to the race winner was caused by a scoring problem.
How does this relate to the Edwards’ rule violation?
The problem with the 1978 Atlanta race was that fans left the track not knowing for sure who had won the race. When fans leave a football, basketball or baseball game they know which team won the event. NASCAR wants that to be true of their sport as well.
In the 1978 race Richard Petty passed Dave Marcis on the last lap for what almost everyone thought was another win in “The King’s” storied career. However, Donnie Allison, who the scoreboard showed as on the tail end of the lead lap, pulled into victory lane. The outcome was changed three times over the next two hours before the final decision that Allison had won was made. Ironically, sixteen year old Brian France had helped produce evidence that showed Allison to have indeed been on the lead lap all along and that he had indeed won.
Then NASCAR chief Bill France, Jr. admittedly walked away from that race with egg on his face, embarrassed that his sanctioning body seemed unable to determine the winner for one of its events.
It would seem that a rules violation and a scoring snafu would have little in common. But, the 1978 Dixie 500 and the 2008 UAW-Dodge 400 in Las Vegas have a great deal to do with each other.
Fans and competitors left Atlanta unsure of who had won. NASCAR does not want that to happen again. Fans and competitors left Las Vegas believing Carl Edwards had won, so he won.
By taking away points, money and crew chiefs NASCAR believes it is essentially taking away the most important aspects of a race win. So, they are taking away the win in a sense. Will that serve as a deterrent? The answer will lie in whether the #99 team or any other team gets caught in the near future without the oil reservoir cover fastened down.
Besides, how hollow of a victory would it be to have a trophy handed to a driver on a Wednesday?
Oh, and by the way, a two hour wait after thinking you have seen your hero and the man you were named after win, then lose, then win and lose again can be agonizing for an 11 year old.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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