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Even if NASCAR was right, they were wrong in the Montoya case

By admin | July 26, 2009

By Richard Allen

It seems as if NASCAR just can’t help themselves. Whether they mean to or not, they appear to go out of their way to make the wrong decisions.

In Sunday’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 Montoya’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 ‘many’ 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 weren’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.

Does Jimmie Johnson deserve  a 25 point penalty after Sunday’s race? Click on the link below to see what you think.

Topics: Articles |

17 Responses to “Even if NASCAR was right, they were wrong in the Montoya case”

  1. old an tired Says:
    July 26th, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    I think it was a bad call. They should of let that one go. I think nascar is trying to put itself out of busniess . Race the night before was a lot better. Next year run sprint cars at o.r.p. Might be to much for vanilla to handle. Or open a Hendricks only series.

  2. mrclause Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 6:58 am

    What gets me the most is the arrogance that follows a messed up call or a wrong call. It’s as if they feel insulted if anyone questions a call.

    The worst offender is this Robin Pemberton. He has become a world class jerk with this new role as VP. Comments like the fans don’t need to see the pit road speeds, the fans don’t run the show, we do! Sorry you jerk, the fans make the show. The egotistical arrogance he demonstrates toward everyone involved in the sport needs to be addressed by someone above him.

  3. Former fan Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 7:16 am

    Looks more and more like professional wrestling. I believe that Nascar is no more than sports entertainment anymore.

  4. Mike Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 8:32 am

    What an idiot. Had the field covered, had to extract the last bit of pit road speed as evidenced by time gained on field during a pit sequence (One series made up 2 seconds in the pit), MONTOYA SCREWED UP. No favoritism. This article is perhaps a pitiful piece of journalism to boot.

  5. George Michaels Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 8:55 am

    While I’m not an Area 51 devotee, I would add with the 48 and 5 upfront, we didn’t see the phantom debris caution.

  6. Jerry Jones Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Everyone who has ever gotten a speeding ticket “didn’t deserve it”. This is no different than Junior overshooting his pits. Maybe his dash light was wrong but Nascar announced his speeds and they were over the line. Beside, there was another caution after that so who knows where Montoya really would have placed.

  7. bdg Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 10:39 am

    R u serious? he got caught speeding. this has nothing to do with race. i’m so sick of that damn card being played in this country. HE SPED, GOT CAUGHT, PAYED THE PRICE. SIMPLE AS THAT. IDIOTS.

  8. midasmicah Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Good call Rich. This the same subject I’ve been harping on for the last few years. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t care anymore. After the penalty on Montoya yesterday I switched channels and never looked back. Boy was I surprised when I watched the sports highlights later in the day and found out Hendricks cars were 1 & 2. With Gordon and Stewart of Hendricks-Stewart {Haas who} in the mix, it’s not hard to smell a conspiracy theory here. In ending I’ll say this. Along with the legion after legion of fans leaving the sports I’ve had enough. I won’t be watching next week’s race in Pocono. I’ll reserve the right to comment on the race though.

  9. midasmicah Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 11:12 am


  10. 5cents Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Rules are rules. He got caught speeding, and deserved what he got. And, I was rooting for him.

  11. Gail Forrester Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    I totally disagree with Richard Allen on this one. NASCAR has done many, many things to shoot itself in the foot over the years, but this penalty was not one of them. The timing is done electronically, not by somebody holding a stopwatch and playing favorites. Montoya had a five second lead going into green flag stops, and there was absolutely no reason for him to be anywhere near the speed limit. I feel sorry for the guy, but it was his own fault, pure and simple.

    A few weeks ago, there were a slew of speeding penalties at the Nationwide race, including even NASCAR’s much-hyped and much-beloved Carl Edwards. These two incidents, Montoya and Edwards, actually restore a bit of credibility to NASCAR for me.

    And Hendirck winning? Is that a surprise? Luck is preparation meeting opportunity. No one does it better than JJ and Chad Knaus.

  12. mikeyfan5599 Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Well, according to someone who races and has insight to friends in the pits, Juan’s light is set at 75 RPM less than max speed and he saw nothing but green light. Why would he push anything to the max coming down pit road. Also, did we see any comparisons of pit times, in and out like we did during the first 2 stops? No. HMS gets the breaks again. NASCAR, I guess, feels that since Rick has 6 of the most popular drivers driving for him, then they should win all the races.

    It will not surprise me to see the driver pull a 1980 on the HMS gang like happened to DW back then. For those who don’t know what happened in 1980, the Alabama gang got the rest of the main drivers to make a pact. Anyone to win the title other than DW. Earnhardt got his first championship. HMS may have a long hard row to hoe come chase time. (I can only hope)

  13. yankeegranny Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    I agree with Rich. nascar really dropped the ball on this one.If the calibration was “off” on Montoya’s car, he would have been caught speeding on other pit stops. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that it was not the calibration since it only happened on the money stop when it really mattered. Put that right up there with Long, and the Mayfield messes. I like Hendricks, but it really makes you wonder about the favoritism thing.

  14. Richard Allen Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    For the record, I never said in the article that Montoya was not speeding. I said that there are many who will believe he wasn’t, no matter what the truth may be.

    The reason people believe this is because there are so many instances in the past that show NASCAR is prone to playing favorites.

    And more, perception is usually stronger than reality.

    My point was that NASCAR deserves criticism, even if they were right on this particular call because of their past history.

  15. Charles Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    Richard; dont dismiss the favoritism between the brands of cars! Montoya was driving a Chevy and led over half the laps, a 5 second lead, when he had his pit road penalty as usual a Hendrick Chevy! All of a sudden Mark Martin, who I like, is 50 years old and can out run and dominate, leave Jeff Gordon and until Sunday Jimmy Johnson in the dust, I mean something to me seems a little artifical to me!

    Look with all the rules Nascar has, one thing that does not change, a GM or Chevy will always be their brand of choice! They will let some of the others win a few, like Edwards last year, and the Dodge, Toyota get to win some, but they never get to rule and dominate like GM!

    Nascar with more brands of cars than ever, has the oportunity to get ‘Car Guys” back to watching Nascar again, one of their biggest mistakes is to discount the importantance of the competition between the brands of cars,with they way it is now, I have come to the conculsion that Dodge, Ford, Toyota should probably leave the sport, no matter how much they try, they will never get to dominate!

    Even Chevy Fans will tell you its not much fun to watch anymore because Nascar never seems to “even it up”! They just let it be the ’status quo”, It would be more intertaining with close competition between the brands of cars! All you have to do is look at the laps led and point title winners, Daytona 500 and this Brickyard for the last 12 years and see! Hendrick has around 7 point titles, Childress 6, I mean isnt that enough!

    GM has great cars and teams I am not trying to take away from that! But if you are going to have brands of cars, you should make every brand welcome!

  16. John Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    All of you who think Montoya got screwed are a bunch of F-ing idiots!!!!

  17. The Old Guy Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    I think the biggest point being missed here…..

    Could NASCAR allow JPM, driving an EGR (That’s Teresa by the way), to win one of the three biggest races of the year? Not as long as their poster child can’t win in, arguably, the best equipment available in NASCAR.

    Do you think an EGR win might lay waste to the claim that it was the equipment at DEI and not the driver?

    As long as Jr. races for HMS, nothing associated with his former team will be allowed to visit victory lane.

    anyone remember how Regan Smith got screwed last year driving a DEI car?