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Holding A Pretty Wheel · Amy Henderson · Friday March 7, 2008
Sometimes I wonder why some things get magnified until they seem larger than life while some things that should be a big deal seem to be buried in the background. No, I'm not talking about making mountains out of molehills and molehills out of mountains. I'm talking about calling a mountain a mountain and a molehill a molehill.
There was barely a ripple in Race Fan World about the oil tank lid infraction on the No. 99 after Las Vegas. I suppose it's feasible that four bolts backed out and the lid migrated up to a highly unusual and visible place in the back of the racecar. It just seems highly unlikely, given that this, and four similar (lids loose, but not removed) in the Nationwide Series this year, are the first time in recent memory a car has been cited for a loose oil tank lid. Cars vibrate all the time and their bolts stay in place.
Still, NASCAR did what was right in this case—the penalty was stiff because the infraction was found after a race and the car gained an advantage in competition because of it—by some reports the downforce on a car can be increased by up to 10 percent. That's a lot, surely enough to make a car fast enough to beat the competition if it was equal to begin with, just needing that edge.
What made me look twice was the fact that by reports, this was the second week in a row that something looked amiss on the No. 99. Fox Sports reported on Sunday that several teams had noted after the California race that the fender on Carl Edwards' Ford looked to be pulled out past the tire slightly further than is allowed. Now, presumably the car had fit the template in post race inspection, but race teams tend to be self-policing in that they will ask a race official "Hey, are we allowed to have a fender out that far?" if they see a whiff of impropriety.
It seems to me that if several teams made note of the funky fender, there might have been something to it. It is possible for a car to fit the template and still have discrepancies, as was shown by the Nos. 24 and 48 at Infineon last summer. What I find troubling is that many seem to have taken the attitude that it's no big deal.
It is a big deal if a team is allowed to work between the templates, because it was made abundantly clear last year that they were not to massage those areas at all. It is a big deal that apparently no attempt was made beyond the initial inquiries of those teams to ascertain if there was, in fact, a violation. It is a big deal that for all intents and purposes, nobody cares. The story was buried at the end of a news column, almost as if nobody really wanted it reported at all.
There was no media backlash, no fan outcry. Is Carl Edwards, NASCAR's answer to Opie Taylor, really above the "creative engineering" talk that seems to plague some drivers and teams? It's surprising that, in light of this week's penalties, nobody thought there might more to that little blurb in Sunday's news. Surely, with some other teams, it would have been Mount Everest. Instead it was barely an anthill.
Maybe there was no hill at all, but perhaps there was a small mountain. It seems that it would have been easy to talk to the teams who reported the issue, at the very least, to find out their take and why NASCAR let it slide. It deserved to be reported, and it deserved an explanation. It deserved the fans' outrage far more than the legal maneuvering of shocks or a barely incorrect nose on a racecar.
NASCAR was consistent in their penalty of the No. 99 this week—the infraction, while not a body penalty on the CoT, was more severe than the three previous tweaks given similar penalties in 2007, because the car sported the illegal modification in competition. The fans' reaction, however, was far from consistent. Cheating is cheating, and if it’s a big deal on a car you don’t like, it’s also a big deal on the one you do. It shouldn’t be brushed aside or excuses made. A mountain is a mountain—call it a mountain and climb over it!
©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Thank you Amy! I’ve been pointing this out all over the place. Nobody seems to want to take notice of it. I even posted about it in one of your colleagues columns earlier this week. I couldn’t seem to get answers or input from anyone.
I know if this was a few other drivers/teams it would have been made a big deal of and people would be demanding for answers. There would be multiple storys about it on racing websites.
Nice thoughts RE: what is cheating and what is not! Along those lines a few things come to mind.
First, from a technical standpoint, the CoT is an entirely different machine and maybe the “harmonics” generated by this car (if one wishes to call the CoT a “car”)causes bolts to loosen where in the old car they did not?
Second, in this day and age of “loctite”, virtually every fastener used in my race cars were ALWAYS LOCTITED. Why not an oil tank cover?
And why all of a sudden is NA$CAR on the rampage about only “certain” things?
It still sticks in my craw that the 17, the 48, & the 88 ALL FAILED INITIAL INSPECTION and all that was done to them was kick them out of line and let them fix their cars, no penalties, no hints of penalties, and Robby gets dumped on!
Something amiss in the NA$CAR scheme of things for sure!
It’s only noteworthy when it’s HMS cheating.
‘Lil Opie Cunningham, ain’t he adorable!
There was no fan outcry because most of us dont care about such trivia.!! Nascar is trivializing racing with their obsessive control of every facet of car prep. Im wondering if the next step is to bring 43 identical cars to each event on Nascar haulers and assign them to the drivers by drawing lots..then painting the appropriate sponsor logos. Kind of like the Race of Champions. Being serious for a moment, people want to hear about racing, not about loose bolts. They are going to kill this sport.
It seems that at some point cuz Carl must have peed in lil Amy’s cornflakes. From what I have read for weeks she no likey Carl. Maybe she has a crush on fat boy Toyotony?
Toyota claims that this trick was intentional, as they show it has been found to produce over 170 pounds of downforce. Which is fine, I like the trying-to-beat-the-system tricks….but it does serve a purpose to have it come loose. Otherwise that thing would be strapped down mighty tight.
Funny how the Roushketeers are immune to being accused of cheating. Ah, but if its an HMS car, the fans, the media and oh yeah, Jack Roush, all make a major outcry.
wasn’t the 17 second fastest in the end.I don’t think I heard anything about his plate being loose.roush car to .moutain out of a molehill.
If a fender is pulled out enough for other teams to notice seems interesting enough.
Focusing on why pulled out fenders were let go by NASCAR after a race may seem to be trivializing an issue that in the past, has gotten people scolded, but then again, headlight decals also seem trivial.
In the USA Today article today, Lee White points out that they’ve got video of a 99 team member pulling out the fenders at Vegas. Why not? Didn’t seem to hurt them any at California.
Thanks, Amy, for being one of the few in NASCAR to even mention this. I don’t understand why it wasn’t a bigger story.
The 17 car would not neccessarily be subject to post race inspection…finishing where it did. I beleive the top 5 and one car chosen at random, go through post race inspection.
Douglas The 17, 48, 88 were out 1/16th of an inch, o none template. Its important for them to allow some leeway so the teams aren’t saddled with the expense of rebuilding each car from the ground up every week (The COT is after all supposed to save money). Not to mention NASCAR doesn’t have the resources to completely recertify all those new parts. The difference with Robbie is he used an entire illegal nose.
This is the most anti-ford, anti- roush site on the web. I read it, print it and go to the bathroom. Deal with the FACTS. Trust me, NASCAR doesn’t like Roush either, if they had any prove it was intentional they would have taken the win. All you chevy lovers on this site will have to deal with the fact that Ford has 2 wins and the you have none.
AS a long time follower, & participant in racing, let me say this. Like airplanes… parts that are attached to race cars. Are meant to stay there. The dumbest crew chief in cup, is way smarter than I am about race cars. If I know about safety wire, lock tight, & paint spot tell tales. You can bet your ass that they know about them too. Plus about a dozen ways that I don’t know about, to secure parts. This sudden rash oh oil tank covers coming loose, or in Carls case all 4 bolts coming completely out. Is not just happening. If anyone thinks otherwise, P T Barnum had them pegged a long time ago!
The issue with the 17, 48 and 88 is a classic example of what NASCAR should be doing. And that is if a car has issue in the inspection line before taking the track, you make them go back, fix whatever is wrong and make them run through inspection again. This wastes a lot of valuable track time when 43 teams all have to go through inspection and if several cars have “issues” then it may make a huge difference in dialing in a car to a drivers liking. Wasted time is a penalty in itself. Also, its silly to fine a car for an infraction if the car never even gets on track with that issue. There is no advantage when you cannot use it. I think fines and penalties should be looked at if it was pre or post. If a car is found to be illegal post race, post qualify, then big fines and points need to be taken. But if a car never takes the track, how can they have an advantage. Carl Edwards got what he deserved and maybe should lost a little more. His crime and Robby Gordon’s “crime” were not even in the same continent in terms of what they were and how it gave an advantage to each car. It made little sense to fine Gordon as harshly as Edwards.
Hey Lacey!! Yes, I know about the 1/16” or so. BUT IT PROVIDED AN ADVANTAGE! And DID NOT MEET THE TEMPLATE!
BUT!, NA$CAR has publicly announced a “ZERO-TOLERANCE” ON THE CoT!
So, what is ZERO-TOLERANCE now considered? plus or minus (+/-) 1/16th of an inch? Last time I looked ZERO up in the dictionary it really meant NONE! ZERO! ZIPPO! NADA! In any language! (except I guess in NA$CAR lingo)!
Robby’s nose WAS NOT OUT BY THAT MUCH! IT MET THE TEMPLATE!! IT, THE NOSE PIECE, MET THE THE SPECIFICATIONS AS THE TEMPLATE REQUIRES!
Also, you mention that NA$CAR does not have the “resources” to check all that stuff???
Why not??? They are making BILLIONS of $$$$ of of you, me, the sponsors, and everyone else. Are you telling me that NA$CAR simply dumps the Cot on the competitors and they NA$CAR DON’T HAVE THE “RESOURCES” TO ENGINEER/ANALYZE THE CoT PROPERLY??
Me thinks that is precisely the case! NA$CAR did not do all the homework required before introducing the CoT!
And it shows!!
But the REAL issue here is NA$CAR itself! Why did NA$CAR allow some non-conforming cars to simply go back to the garage and get changed, while it arbitrarily and immediately penalized another team, Robby’s, heavily with fines, point deductions, suspensions, and so forth?
Nascar never takes wins away and most likely never will. I think Edwards penalty was consistent with the CoT car. I did have a problem with the tire getting out of Edwards pit and no penalty. The team should be making sure the cameraman is out of the way at all times for that reason and for safety. How did the camera man get in front of someone who should already have been in that spot to catch that tire in the first place? That tire guy should have been in position and the cameraman wouldn’t have been in the way. Point blank it was the tire mans fault for not being there first.
Jeff Gordon did not get the race stopped so he could fix his car when a chunk of cement came up and tore up his front end which was a track issue that should not have happened.
Blank happens and it is all a matter if the blank happens to who. It is all part of the sport. Next thing they will let drivers keep their position even though someone spun them after all it wasn’t their fault.
Jesus, y’all act like this is the first time anyone ever got busted for cheating. If you’re not cheating, then you aren’t winning. Just ask Chad Knauss. I hope Carl spanks ‘em again this week, so the Bowtie and Yota bunch can whine some more.
you like the cot thing wait until they bring out their spec motor and totally do nascar in. Nascar promots whos marketable and hassles those who aren’t and thats not anything new.every driver out there deserves recognition.even the whiners.Go kick some more but roush and all your drivers
If it was the 48 car with the infraction last week fans would be demanding that Knaus be banned from NASCAR for life, that the win should be taken away, and that the driver be suspended. But with Roush/Edwards the majority of fans feel in punishment fits the crime or should be more lenient.
You’re right Amy, many fans are not objective and it seems some media isn’t either.
Glad you’re here to report the truth!
Douglas, you’re wrong the 1/16th never provided an advantage it was found before the cars got on track. the 17, 48, and 88 were given a reasonable tolerance for correction a minor issue, while R. Gordon had one whole illegal nose on his car.
Lacey, as I understand it, from all the reports, yes, the 1/16” was in the rear spoiler area dropping the spoiler down thus providing less downforce and more top speed!
YES! it was caught “before the cars got on the track”! Thus, as you say, it provided the 17, the 48, & the 88 car no “actual” advantage as they did not make it to the track in that condition!
Similar to Robby, his WAS ALSO PRIOR TO ANY TRACK TIME! And his nose did not deviate from the “template”! It was NOT as much as .001” out of “tolerance”, it was simply a “sticker/label” issue. Also, please be reminded that the “identification” for this nose was in plain site for everyone to see. It was not a cover up. No intentional fooling around such as the 17, the 48, the 88 cars that had to be taken back and RE-WELDED!
I once again remind you of NA$CAR’S very strong statements about the CoT!!
ZERO-TOLERANCE! And as you say, the three cars in question were given a “reasonable tolerance”!
So, what is it?? ZERO-TOLERANCE? Per NA$CAR! Or a “reasonable” tolerance?
Again, NA$CAR decides what/who gets the ZERO-TOLERANCE PENALTIES, and who is allowed to SKATE WITH “REASONABLE TOLERANCES!
That is the real issue here,the rules should be applied equally to all! But then again we are talking NA$CAR!
And thanks for allowing the “rebuttal”!! Next witness?
Great article Amy! As usual you make excellent points, although I can see there are some who still don’t understand.
What is everyone upset about? You don’t think this “sport” is anything more than a means to put our money in their pocket do you? It is entertainment, like the news.
Manufactured distraction and contrived excitement. The are producing a product for us to consume. Processed food. That’s all.
This is not on the level. Just accept it and enjoy it for what it is.
Check out the NA$CAR site. Great story about why empty seats are a good thing.
One bolt â€“ not four. Makes a little difference into your theories donâ€™t it?
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Want to know more about Amy or see an archive of all of her articles? Check out her bio page for more information.