By admin | July 26, 2009
By Richard Allen
It seems as if NASCAR just canâ€™t help themselves. Whether they mean to or not, they appear to go out of their way to make the wrong decisions.
In Sundayâ€™s Brickyard 400 Juan Pablo Montoya was completely dominate. He led 72 of the first 80 race laps and then some. However, he was unable to seal the deal by taking his car to victory lane. NASCAR said he was too fast on pit road during a round of green flag pit stops with just over 30 laps remaining in the event.
The resulting drive through penalty dropped Montoya back to 12th place. He ultimately finished 11th.
Montoya declared emphatically over his in-car radio that he did not speed. He claimed he was running the same speed during that particular trip down pit road as he had run all day.
Here is the real problem for NASCAR. The team to benefit most from Montoyaâ€™s misfortune was none other than Hendrick Motorsports. The two cars driven by Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson, who had been running 2nd and 3rd, suddenly found themselves leading the pack. Johnson eventually went on to win with Martin close behind in 2nd.
It seems as though every time NASCAR makes such a call as the one they made against Montoya, it is team Hendrick who is there to take advantage. This adds fuel to the fire of those who cry conspiracy. And, it is getting harder and harder to dismiss those claims.
With that said, Montoya may well have been speeding. But in the minds of many, it does not matter. That â€˜manyâ€™ is growing by leaps and bounds, at least among the ever dwindling numbers of fans left to watch NASCAR.
So many people have been turned off by the poor quality of racing and the favoritism, or at least perceived favoritism, that they are no longer watching. Evidence of that could be seen in the vast numbers of empty seats around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday.
NASCAR should not be calling penalties to help a particular team, but at the same time, they should not be calling penalties to avoid looking like they are helping a certain team. In cases such as the Montoya situation, even if NASCAR was right they were wrong.
NASCAR has brought this whole mess on themselves. There would not be so many allegations of favoritism if there werenâ€™t examples of such behavior.
Every bit of criticism they receive over this is deserved, even if it is not deserved. By that, I mean they have played favorites before and even if Montoya was speeding, they should be criticized for the way they conduct their business.
Maybe NASCAR is starting to reap some deserved bad karma over the Carl Long penalty.
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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