Friday, February 22, 2008

Why Does NASCAR Hate Robby Gordon?

Poor Robby Gordon. You gotta feel for the guy whether you pull for him or not. Once again, NASCAR has come down on him with both feet for a 'violation' of the rules that was not even of his own making. And, it was obviously not to gain an 'advantage' or an attempt to circumvent the rules or cheat. What gives? This isn't the first time NASCAR has hefted a pretty heavy penalty at Robby; although it certainly is, by far, one of the hugest issued by NASCAR to date.

Robby has been pretty well the last of the 'independents' for a few years now. A couple of weeks before Daytona, he switched from Ford to Dodge, to work with Gilette Evernham Motorsports (GEM). He gets new car parts on the fly, a minuscule problem is found in pre-race inspection at Daytona with the wrong nose being sent to his team for the new Dodge, and he is hit with a $100,000 fine, 100 points, and suspension of his crew chief. Yikes!!! Yet, NASCAR sure doesn't come down on legitimate cheaters like Hendrick Motorsports, with the Dale Earnhardt Junior car being found deliberately bodily altered before the 'Nationwide' Series Daytona race. Junior's Hendrick team was fined $50,000 and 50 points (driver Earnhardt Junior and owner Hendrick) -- and this was for an alternation intended to make an advantage for the car.

Regarding the penalty, which Robby is appealing, he issued a statement:

"This was an innocent mistake made by someone not even on my team. They accidentally supplied us the new Dodge noses that NASCAR hasn't yet approved because of what amounted to a clerical error. It was discovered during technical inspection and corrected before the race. It was not even close to being an intent to create some competitive advantage, and the mistake was not even made by my team. This penalty is way out of proportion when you compare it what happened last year when a team was penalized 100 points for adding a substance to the fuel, or when a team deliberately changed the bodies of the COT. To penalize my team the same amount when we didn't even make the mistake, and the mistake was nothing more than inadvertent human error by someone else is just not fair. Other teams who have had similar issues to what happened with the nose on my car were only penalized 25 points. I hope that NASCAR can reconsider when they have all the facts. In the meantime, we have no choice but to appeal this penalty. We started the season off on a high note with a top 10 finish at Daytona and we look forward to continuing that at California and Las Vegas."

Go figure. NASCAR doesn't go after the multi-multi-millionaire team owner like Rick Hendrick, whose teams seem to get caught cheating at Daytona year after year after year; they'd rather stomp on an independent who's trying to make it in the old-fashioned way, instead of buying or bribing his way in...Maybe if some serious fines were FINALLY issued to Hendrick and his teams, rather than the 'chump change' they must regard a mere $50,000 as, they'd get the message. For most people in America, $50,000 would be a great yearly salary. NASCAR's big team owners certainly are in an elite millionaires club of their own.

When Jimmie Johnson's #48 Hendrick team was caught cheating at Daytona in 2006,
NASCAR did not strip points from Johnson because the sanctioning body was 'reluctant' to force a team to start the season in the red. Guess it just all depends on whose team you race for.

Yet another reason the 'olde fans' are turned off more and more by NASCAR's ongoing shenanigans. What level playing field???

If NASCAR does not overturn this penalty completely and remove the fine and points assessed, they are doing a huge disservice not only to Robby Gordon, but to the sport itself. Unless, of course, NASCAR enjoys walking around with egg on its collective face. The fans can differentiate between intentional cheating and a genuine mistake. Can NASCAR?