It’s almost time for the engines to roar at Dover in the second race of the Sprint cup race and we’re still talking about New Hampshire. Of course, that’s because NASCAR has accused Richard Childress Racing of cheating at the New Hampshire race. The chassis tolerances were not up to NASCAR’s standards and driver Clint Bowyer and car owner Childress were docked 150 championship points and the crew chief on the team was fined $150, 000. And yet, the win stands for Bowyer. It makes no sense to me.
It’s a long standing tradition or rule that goes back to the beginnings of NASCAR. Big Bill France, the founder of the sanctioning body that has become an American staple, thought that fans at the track should know when they left who was the winner. Those being the case, victories are never taken away even if a rules infraction is discovered. On Sunday, that meant that Clint Bowyer got the win regardless of whether his car was illegal or not. Bowyer’s No. 33 Chevy has been hot the last two races. In fact, the car was so hot that NASCAR began to look a little closer at the team. Warnings went out after Richmond that the car was so close to being illegal that a meeting was held with Childress and the team. I found this interesting. RCR was given notice that they should clean up their act. Then the teams headed to the New Hampshire race. Post race inspection showed the car to not be within the tolerances of the rule book, and a penalty was assessed three days after the race. Bowyer kept the win, but lost most of the points he had earned, leaving him back in last place after ascending to second on race day.
I find this unusual, even though I’ve know this most of my adult life. Why should any team retain a victory if they had cheated? I understand the logic that Big Bill prescribed to. The fans at the track left knowing Bowyer had won the race, but does it make it right that his team did it by not following the rules? It has happened so often in the history of this sport that it probably is not on the mind of most fans, but does that make it right?
Since NASCAR wants to follow the stick and ball sports in their playoff system, why don’t they follow those sports in policing cheaters? Recently, the NCAA stripped a Heisman Trophy from Southern Cal start Reggie Busch because he had broken the rules. High school and college programs have always forfeited victories when cheating is discovered, taking away championships and wins. And yet, we live with this antiquated rule that says if you finish first in a race, even if you didn’t follow the rules, you still get the victory. Sure, they essentially took away the points from the victory, but forevermore the record will show Clint Bowyer as the winner on Sunday.
It’s time for NASCAR to get tougher. I know that Childress has appealed the decision saying that the tow truck probably knocked the car out of specs when pushing it back to victory lane after the car ran out of fuel. But is that going to fly with the appeals board? It usually doesn’t. In my memory I cannot remember a NASCAR decision being overturned (notice I said in my memory, which isn’t so good these days). My guess is NASCAR’s decision will be upheld. So where does that leave us? It’s time for NASCAR to simply not grant any points for the car that they have determined was not playing by the rules, eliminate all points, and grant the victory to the second place car. Nothing else makes any sense. If I were in charge, I’d get on that immediately, but I doubt that will happen. It’s tradition you know.