To anyone who follows any professional sport (or even if they don't), it's obvious that when a suspension is handed out, that the intent is to prevent the individual suspended from participating in the event. Any attempt to play coy and get around the suspension is a deliberate move to undermine the nature of the suspension. That said, it was widely noted on Speed TV early this afternoon (Saturday, June 30, live from New Hampshire International Speedway) that the suspended crew chiefs (Steve Letarte and Chad Knaus) from the 24 and 48 Rick Hendrick Racing teams were comfortably ensconced on the track's property, in motorcoaches, running the shows for their teams. Is this not a flagrant violation of a suspension? Hendrick and his two drivers, Gordon and Johnson, have said they are 'outraged' at the 'severity' of the penalties levied against them last weekend at Sonoma when both car bodies had been altered. Never mind that NASCAR has been extremely clear about penalties for those who would tamper with it's 'car of tomarrow' (COT). And for me to say that NASCAR has been supremely clear--well, that can only mean that even NASCAR has been quite blunt about what they will and will not allow teams to do.
A far less extreme case a few weeks ago, when a wrong bracket set was left on the 8 car of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., resulted in a 100 point penalty against the driver, the owner, $100,000 fines, and a 6 race suspension for the crew chief. The details on this however, clearly show that it was an error on the team's part for leaving the wrong bracket on the car. Initially, NASCAR was working with three sets of brackets for the COT and the team tested with one of the three sets issued before the final decision was made as to which would be used. DEI's engineers, working on the testing for the COT, sent the car to the track with the wrong brackets. Beyond that, the car went thru initial inspection, pre-qualifying inspection, and post-qualifying inspection before NASCAR noticed that the wrong bracket set was on the car. And, the part would have given no advantage to the race team. With all that in mind, the penalty issued by NASCAR was intended to keep the strong message Don't Tamper With the COT, in the foreground.
The same penalty, for a far more egregious violation, was levied against the two Hendrick cars last weekend. Yes, you could argue that parking the cars for the first day of practice was also a part of the penalty, but face it. That made little difference in the outcome of the race. Yet the Hendrick outfit, apparently used to their pocketbooks talking, has expressed outrage at the penalties. Actually, it could be argued that a 200 point/$200,000/12 race suspension would be in order.
Nevertheless, to hear that the crew chiefs are onsite, at Loudon, NH, running the show by remote, is a clear flip-off at NASCAR and its governing of the races. A suspension should be a suspension, period. If a baseball manager is suspended, he doesn't get to sit in the clubhouse and run the game. Likewise in football, basketball, hockey....Apparently the Hendrick teams cannot even interpret the meaning of suspension without trying to get around the rules and cheat. Cheating at a suspension should be an additional fine and penalty. If NASCAR is truly running the show, they need to step in and stop this absurdness right now.
Cheating a suspension. Isn't that the height of hubris? (e.g., arrogance, greed, self-importance)...