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Why exactly did NASCAR bother to warn the Hendrick teams?

By admin | October 6, 2009

By Richard Allen

Imagine that during this weekend’s Tennessee vs. Georgia game the referee suddenly switched on his microphone after a particular play to announce, “I just wanted to say that Georgia did not hold on the previous play but they were very close to it.”

What a strange occurrence that would be. If the team in question was not holding then why bother with the announcement? If they were holding then why not go ahead and penalize them rather than offer up a warning announcement?

That very sort of thing is what NASCAR just did with two of its teams.

After each race two cars are typically taken back to the NASCAR Research and Development facility in Concord, North Carolina to be checked for any issues that might not be found in a standard post race inspection. Usually, the winning car and one random car are selected for the check.

After the race in Dover, the winning car of Jimmie Johnson and the second place finisher of Mark Martin were the cars taken by the sanctioning body. Later in the week, NASCAR announced that the two machines, both belonging to Hendrick Motorsports, were not found to be illegal but were very close to being in the wrong.

Well, either they were illegal or they were not. If they were not illegal then why bother with such a goofy announcement? Every crew chief in the garage area wants his car to be very close to illegal. Such an announcement would confirm to any crew chief that he was doing his job.

If the cars were indeed illegal then they should have been punished.

Team owner Jack Roush has feelings on the issue. He thinks the cars were illegal. “I’ve been fined a lot of times for a lot of different things,” he said. “If the cars were out of tolerance by a quarter of an inch, which is what I’ve heard… Well, the rest of the garage is held to a much tighter tolerance than that.”

The implication of Roush’s statement is clear. He is almost certainly implying that NASCAR gave the two HMS cars a break and did not take points away in the midst of the Chase for the Championship playoff when they should have.

NASCAR has often been accused of playing favorites and the Hendrick team has been the prime target of conspiracy theorists in recent years. And for their part, NASCAR does not seem to be concerned that those accusations are out there. Or, they are so out of touch that they do not realize those charges have been made.

To further confirm NASCAR’s disregard for what many people believe to be the truth, the sanctioning body broke from its standard procedure this past weekend in Kansas. Rather than take only two cars back to the R&D center after the race, they took four. Race winner Tony Stewart’s car was selected as well as the random pick of Kurt Busch’s Dodge. Then, the cars of Johnson and Martin were also brought in.

It looks very much like NASCAR caught the two cars cheating in Dover, and as Roush implied, let them off with only a warning. Then, they took those cars again to see if the ‘tolerances’ were corrected.

NASCAR declared the #5 and #48 cars to be legal this past weekend in Kansas. Take note, the cars of Martin and Johnson were not as strong in Kansas as they were in Dover. I wonder why that is? NASCAR thinks you, I or anyone else is too dumb to notice.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

Topics: Articles |

15 Responses to “Why exactly did NASCAR bother to warn the Hendrick teams?”

  1. dale882008 Says:
    October 7th, 2009 at 3:01 am

    if nascar was favoring hendrick in anyway at all i feel like jr would be the one because nascar knows if jr is in the chase and in the points lead this late in the season then ratings would be higher then ever that would be a given jr didnt make the chase and ratings are down to me that means nascar is not giving anyone a edge but thats my opinion

  2. hachetwacker Says:
    October 7th, 2009 at 5:54 am

    the only mention of a 1/4″ was by jack THE WHINNER roush all other #s where .060 far cry from .250

  3. Charles Says:
    October 7th, 2009 at 6:13 am

    I might be wrong, but I think there is more to the story!
    I think someone mabe behind the scenes might have known something and Nascar had to make a press release about it to cover themselves!

    I mean its obvious that Chevy - Hendrick cars are dominate! I mean here is Mark Martin at 50 years old and most of the time he is outrunning and this year has won more poles than drivers on the same team that are 15 years younger!

    When you look at Hendrick operation in general, they have a talented operation, but so do the others!

    Its Hendrick ability to push ethics, either in businness with all his past business dealing, or racing he gets fined but if he is looking at the business end of racing he still comes out on top! If you look at Hendrick in general he has pushed the rules in everything he has done!!!!!

    Nascar needs to change the way they police the sport! Instead of going to RD, a much better way would be the old way and let the “competitiors do the protesting ” and then the ‘check and balances” of the rules would be better inforced!

    With all the money involved I dont trust the system, Nascar seems to have a “big grey area” when it comes to money!

  4. Josie Says:
    October 7th, 2009 at 7:46 am

    I am interested as well…why the big (NON) News Release was made by NASCAR? When is the last time there was a big news release “The 99 car PASSED post race inspection?” It just doesn’t happen… “The 16 car PASSED pre race inspection” “The 14 car PASSED pre and post race inspections” come on now…what is going on? If the 48 and 5 cars were matter how close..why was necessary for the world to know? Why wasn’t it on a “need to know basis?” i.e. if the cars were just close .. but DID pass..why didn’t NASCAR just let the teams know they needed to “watch” themselves..But they chose to open this can of worms..So as far as I am concerned..something is WAY off here..and it’s not JUST the tolerances of the 48 and 5!

  5. Joe in Pittsburgh Says:
    October 7th, 2009 at 7:49 am

    Releasing a statement saying “they didnt cheat” reeks of something wrong. Even if they were answering a leak from the R&D center,something obviously was going on. NASCAR continues its credibility slide (along with interest and viewers). Cannot wait until the NHL outdraws them making them in line with bowling or pool.

  6. yankeegranny Says:
    October 7th, 2009 at 8:59 am

    More to the point, neither one of the teams dominated the Kansas race. I think we will know this week if there were something crooked with those two cars. If they run the same in California that they ran in Kansas,it will be obvious that NASCAR gave them a pass and really loses all credibility. Almost as much credibility as they lost with the move over and play nice suggestion that they gave to BK at Kansas.

  7. mikeyfan5599 Says:
    October 7th, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Let’s see, NASCAR allowed Rick in 1987 to bend the 2 cars per owner rule when they allow him to put a team in his fathers name, This year they are turning their heads on the SHR/HMS relationship and allowing Rick to run 6 cars instead of the 4 cars he is allowed, now the word comes out from a NASCAR official stating the 5 car was dead on the max tollerance and the 48 was over by .060 and NASCAR covers it up. Look what they did to Carl Long at Lowes .17 of a CI too big with a worn engine and they gave him a death penalty, 6 months and 200K. Now who do you think Rick has in his back pocket.

  8. Ritchie Says:
    October 7th, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Spot on Mikeyfan.

  9. Joe W. Says:
    October 7th, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    I am a fan of Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon (don’t care much for Johnson) and I see this as something fishy. Either the cars are legal or not. If they are legal, then they should be able to race them whenever and where ever they want, but Nascar told them not to bring the cars back. Does that sound legal to anybody? If they are legal why can’t they bring them back and race them again? And if they are illegal why was there no penalty? The whole thing is very suspicious. It is this sort of thing that is contributing to lower TV ratings and empty seats at the track. Nascar needs to wake up before it is to late, if it isn’t already.

  10. Marybeth Says:
    October 7th, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Nascar is just trying to screw Mark Martin the championship. Just like 19 yrs ago when he was the points leader and they penalized for illegal carbureutor, and who won that championship Dale Sr. Just like 7 yrs ago when he had the wrong coil springs and got penalized, who won that championship Tony Stewart. Every time Mark is close to the winning they catch him cheating

  11. Marybeth Wallick Says:
    October 7th, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Really eerie…I am Marybeth also, with small “b” as the one above, but I have nothing in common with the one above.

  12. Ken Says:
    October 7th, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    Hendrick can be cheating with Jr. and he still can’t make the chase. Most of his poor finishes were due to driver or pit crew error. I suspect some if no all of Jr’s engine problms are caused by driver actions so the blame wouldn’t fall on him.

  13. Bruce C Says:
    October 7th, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    This theory is crazy. The 5 and 48 cars won 8 other races this year and had their cars inspected back at the R & D center. Nothing became of it. So you want us to believe NASCAR was letting them cheat all year and just now decided to stop it now it??? Warnings are common in NASCAR without any announcement of a rules violation.

    You make the football reference in this article so let me point out the fact that all officating crew will tell you they don’t want to alter the outcome of an event. The just want to uphold the rules correctly.

    I believe that NASCAR saw the cars that close to tolerance and didn’t want to be put in a position to have to alter the championship race if either of those cars suffered some on track damage and happened to win or be the random inspection.

  14. Dave Says:
    October 7th, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    People who believe what Jack Roush has to say and then use it in an argument make me laugh. The “Cat in the Hat” continually sees cheating everywhere else (remember the 24’s tires filled with magic gas and coated with secret solvent) and then ends up with egg on his face. His Hendrick-envy goes way back.

    If the 5 and 48 cars were out of tolerance, contrary to NASCAR’s statement, then provide your evidence . NASCAR may not have wanted to issue a press release but were forced to as the black helicopters started to fly. This isn’t a court of law but it would be nice if some of the wacko ideas above were supported by something.

  15. mikeyfan5599 Says:
    October 8th, 2009 at 5:59 am

    Dave, common sense says, if they passed inspection 8 other times without fanfare, then why all the fanfare on this time? Why make a production out of calling the crew chiefs in and telling them they were within tolerance but…, Remember this story broke with a reporter stating “A NASCAR OFFICIAL Stated…” No name was given to insure that individual did not lose his job, sometime circumstantial evidence can convict you as easily as hard facts. Usually if it smells like _____ it turns out to be _____.