There is only ONE Oklahoma

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

When you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar

Reading some other blogs and driver's message boards it sure does strike the funny bone when it is 'your favorite driver', that gets caught with the cheat and not someone else's.

The excuses comes flying out of the woodwork!

From, "Well, [insert driver's name hear] didn't even know so how can he be punished?" to "Well, I just don't understand why other drivers in the past were not penalized the same."

I am going to pick on the "Southern Gentleman" here a bit (easy target anyway) and some of his fan's reactions to his pre-qualifying mis-hap. Here are a few reactions along with a few of my responses:

* "I don't understand why the penalty if it was found in pre-qualifying, why not let them fix the problem and let them make their qualifying run."
So what the fan is saying is that there should be no penalty for attempting to pass an illegal car thru pre-qualifying inspection? That goes along with the irrational theory of 'If you don't get caught, it is not cheating'. I agree more with David Poole's timely comments saying that Nascar really to this day is not harsh enough when dealing with pre-qualifying cheating. Poole states if he was Nascar's Chairman blog:

"any team caught with a major rules violation before qualifying will be denied the right to race in that week’s event. Any team found to have committed a major rules violation in postrace inspection will lose all points and money earned in that event and will be prohibited from entering the next event on the schedule."

One last point, Nascar did force the 19 to 'correct' it's violation and allowed them to make a qualifying run. That qualifying run ironically, was significantly slower than their practice qualifying runs.

* "Why set a precedent THIS YEAR? That just doesn't seem fair."
How many times in recent years has the governing body made the 'we are going to crack down' claims, and that message gets lost sometime between January and Speed weeks. Like a little child, there comes a point where simply making threats of punishment is not a deterent. Just about every other sport has gone through something like this, from Baseball with steroid abuse and the NFL crackdown on EPO use.

* "Why take away driver points? Elliott probably didn't even know."
It is probably a safe bet that the driver most of the time is the innocent victim of this crime. But that still doesn't release him of any responsibility or from the subsequent punishment. This is a team sport, and a sport where the driver is awarded points for the actions of himself, and his team. Maybe it is time for drivers to also draw a line in the sand confronting their crews about cheating. Actually, I'll let the "Southern Gentleman" speak for himself from this quote just a year ago.

"I think when a team is found guilty of breaking the rules the team should lose points. It's a team sport. Somebody else could have done the crime. ...NASCAR has done a great job of making sure we penalize the team points because money usually doesn't do anything to these guys. So I would have liked to have seen points taken because it was blatant, I think. I think if you get caught once, 25 points," he said. "If you get caught twice, go to 75 or 100 points. Go up every time you're caught doing something like that, especially if it's on purpose."

There you have it, key words like 'money means nothing', 'the team should lose points' and 'blatant'. I would say trying to pass illegal equipment thru pre qualifying inspection is pretty blatant.

* "What makes this any worse than what JJ did last year?"
I know I sound like I am beating a dead horse here, but the 48 team did not use any illegal equipment last year. Nascar has made a clear distinction concerning this issue over the years as well. Compound the fact that Nascar warned teams before Speed weeks that a harder stand would be taken this season than in the past.

* "Would Nascar have done the same thing to such name brand drivers like JR, Gordon, or Stewart? Even though the warnings have been given out?"
A very fair question but also a question that in some ways has already been answered a couple of years ago. After the Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction Nascar along with the FCC sent message after message concerning over the air language, to the point where Nascar issued the statement that it would not be tolerated any longer. The line in the sand had been drawn, and just a couple of weeks later, the driver that probably sells the most T-shirts and hats stepped across that line. Junior (and owner) was penalized 25 points for using one of the seven words George Carlin say you can never say on TeVee.

* "Why weren't the teams given fair warning that such harsher penalties would be handed out this year?"
Actually, Nascar has been threatening this few some years now. At some point the hammer has to come down.

* "What makes one cheat any more serious than another?
In this case it has to do with the parts used and the effect. But Nascar history has shown us a couple of things in terms of 'seriousness'. Don't mess with the fuel, tires, or aero of the car first and foremost.

* "I have never heard of a golfer starting a tournament over par or a football team starting a game -7 to 0."
Actually, there are many instances where players in every sport that are penalized some way or another before a season begins. That could be in the form of a suspension or a monetary fine. For example, if the NFL were (for what ever reason) decide to suspend Payton Manning for the first regular season game in 2007, is that not starting the Colt's season in the hole? There is a reason why Manning is the 1st string QB and not the 2nd. Also, Nascar feels (and rightfully so) that the season begins once the hauler enters that tunnel to the infield at Daytona the morning of first practice.

Bottom line, it is time for the drivers to take responsibility for their teams, check their egos at the door and promote an attitude that would help stop this kind of thing in the sport, instead of playing the 'ignorance' card.


High Groover said...

Phil, if your bottom line calls for the driver to assume responsibility -- you must first ascertain whether he has the capability to do so! As an independent contractor - WHAT can a driver do? Refuse to drive? (broken contract), Spill the beans? (broken non-disclosure agreement), Throw the race? (professional suicide).

Starting from here -- we can suggest that drivers' contracts be written in such a way that they DO have the power to challenge their crew chief/team owners "creative" efforts -- but the legalities involved would probably be a nightmare. How about an organized labor union? Is it time to try that hand again? Franchising that allows stockholders to hold a team owner accountable? Hmmmmm.

MY bottom line is consistency. When Prince Brian CONSISTENTLY takes points away from drivers for on-the-track infractions (debris?) which are commesurate with those issued for "creativity" in the garage -- then I'll believe that NASCAR is shooting for integrity. Until then they're doing a poor job of damage control.

Gvav1 said...

High Groover has a point about "consistency"!

Regardless...it's racin' time, let the vrooming begin!!!

Green Green Green! said...

I love your rants! remember, you can't have a battle of the wits w/ un-armed people!

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