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?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Daytona 500 Was Super, but the Lead Up to Race Time Was Overkill

By the time Sunday rolled around, neither my husband nor I could bear yet another feature about Daytona. Perhaps, had all this SpeedTV and ESPN coverage been available when Dale Earnhardt was around, we would have felt differently; as it was it was beginning to get nauseating with all the hype about Dale Junior, Hendrick, and stoking the Fox commentators egos over and over and over.... Speed Channel and ESPN (to a lesser degree--since they only had Busch race (yes, BUSCH RACE!! coverage)) just overkilled on the overblown, over hyped, and overrated pre-race coverage.

On Sunday, we finally tuned in about 2:30...having not seen an actual start time for the RACE itself all week. We thought it would be around 3. Noooooooooooo, it was 3:45 by the time all of the diverse pre-race hype by NASCAR for the 50th Anniversary was done. Yes, there was good stuff, but it did not need to drag out that long!! Brooks and Dunn saved the pre-show for NASCAR as far as I was concerned. Kool and the Gang??? Guess they were there for the new fans that NASCAR isn't worried about keeping...Chubby Checker--well he is an American Classic and I guess since he's an Icon of the 1950's I can see his being there for that reason; but neither are folks that would really be associated with NASCAR. Brooks and Dunn are well known as NASCAR fans, and their performance, during which the 10th anniversary win car of Dale Earnhardt's was brought out, was the highlight of the whole shebang. The crowd looked pretty dull and uninterested until Ronnie Dunn and Kix Brooks kicked it up a few notches. Trisha Yearwood did a fine job on the anthem, of course.

The race didn't start til 3:45 p.m. EST....So much for pushing back start times, eh? Hope NASCAR does better for those CORE FANS they're trying to pull back into the sport.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Congratulations to Ryan Newman -- and an American Made Car wins at Daytona!!

Ryan Newman drove a smart race and pulled off a win in the most prestigious stock car race of the year--the Daytona 500. Add to that the fact that his team owner, Roger Penske, had never had a restrictor-plate race win at all, and Kurt Busch, Ryan's teammate finished second in the 50th running of the Great American Race.....well, for the Dodge fans things could not be much better.

Except, perhaps, that Roger Penske showed up in Victory Lane in a Hendrick motor sports hat. What was that all about??? You'd think Penske would be proud of his own outfit and finally winning not only a restrictor-plate race, but a DAYTONA 500 -- not promoting Rick Hendrick racing. Yeah, yeah, yeah....I heard him say he said something to Rick Hendrick and Hendrick gave him the hat. Still, it was not very flattering to his own teams.

Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart ran smart races; Busch easily had the strongest car of the day, even if it was a Toyota. Ah, well. Kyle has shown maturity and the ability to work as a teammate. Gibbs Racing has three top-notch racers under their roof. Look to them for bringing Toyota the success that Michael Waltrip could not produce last season. I'm still not a Toyota fan, but they are the lesser of some evils out there...

Most interestingly, the best laid plans of Hendrick racing didn't end up with their three top teams in the top 5. Guess you just can't buy everything....