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.
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