Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Did NASCAR go far enough in its penalties for Michael Waltrip Racing?

NASCAR is one of those sports where the saying, if you re not cheating, you are not trying, is the most true. Car owners, crew chiefs, and drivers alike are always looking for an edge. They are always looking for a way to get more speed, to get one more point, to get one more position, or to win one more race. Often that leads teams to being outside the rules set down by the sanctioning body. We saw a scenario take place last Saturday day night in the Richmond race where members of one organization plotted to undermine the integrity of the sporting event. That is is plain and simple.

There is no way to undo the damage this has caused and one has to feel for driver Jeff Gordon who was utterly and completely robbed of a chance to run for another title. MWR ruined the integrity of the Richmond race and to a large extent the validity of the 10 race playoff to come.

Not once but twice members of this organization conspired to affect the results of the race. NASCAR is a sport where teammates will let one another lead a lap here and there to get a few extra points. There was a situation at Michigan International Speedway in the late 1990's were Roush Racing driver Jeff Burton almost came to a complete stop coming around to take the caution flag to allow his teammate Mark Martin back onto the lead lap. Martin would go on to win that race, but all of these shenanigans pales in comparison to what the members of MWR did Saturday night. It is one thing to call a driver down pit road to give his teammate a few extra spots and the needed points to make the playoffs, it is quite another to spin a car out on the race track to accomplish the same.

No matter what Clint Bowyer says now, it is very clear from the video that that is exactly what he did. That is dangerous, it puts other drivers and fans at risk, and a loss of points, and a fine is nowhere near adequate punishment for these actions that were clearly detrimental to the sport of auto racing.

Let us not forget this is not the first time MWR has been found to be outside the rules. Several years ago at Daytona members of this organization were involved in a major scandal at the Daytona 500. While NASCAR is hesitant to dole out penalties that can affect a teams sponsors it seems the minimum punishment for this serious infraction would have been to sit Bowyer's team for the final ten races of 2013. Maybe then with sponsor outrage teams, owners, and crew chiefs would finally get the message that doing stuff likes this hurts the sport as a whole.

Longtime MWR sponsor Napa Auto Parts says it will review its partnership with MWR, one can only hope that they take a moral stand and move their NASCAR support to a team less willing to gamble with the reputation of their sport.

zIt is outrageous that after gamlbin with the intergrity of the entire sports Bowyer is still eign allwoed to run for the championship. What happens if he wins the chase? What hppens if NASCAR crowns a seemingly tainted unfit champion?

NASCAR did the right thing and bounced martin Trues Jr, the main benefactor of the shenanigans, from the chase. However a just punishment would have been to sit all three MWR racing cars and let more deserving folks, AKA Gordon, run for the championship.