The Frontstretch: Voices From the Cheap Seats: Gibbs Redemption Shows NASCAR is Out of Touch by Jeff Meyer -- Thursday May 9, 2013

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With all the hubbub over the last two weeks about a connecting rod that was found to be a mere three grams underweight in the engine of Joe Gibbs Racing star, Matt Kenseth, and the resulting penalties levied by NASCAR, the main question in my mind is: did we really need to go through all this stupid drama?

Are the powers that be, that out of touch with common sense? Ok, that’s two questions. But really, is there any one among us that didn’t think NASCAR was way off base? Make that three questions … or maybe it’s all one, I don’t know. All I do know is, thank the Lord someone in the appeals process isn’t as rich as Brian France and still has an ounce of sanity.

Matt Kenseth and Joe Gibbs Racing came out on the positive side of NASCAR’s appeal process earlier this week after a victory at Kansas Speedway. Photo courtesy of Rick Lunkenheimer (@FrntstretchRick)

Long story short, the appellate body basically let NASCAR keep the money for the fine, but essentially threw out almost everything else, but you all know that already as I’m sure I am not your main source of NASCAR news. I am simply here to put a voice to what the common man, with common sense wants to say to all this!

One of the main facts of the case is, JGR never touches the inside of their Toyota engines. They are leased, signed, sealed and delivered by Toyota Racing Development. Another fact of the case is, there was none, no, not one iota of advantage that that engine had over any other in the race. NASCAR, never one to be bothered by facts, was not real happy with the eventual outcome of the case.

“Our sport has a due process system in place that has served this sport very well for more than 65 years, and that due process resulted in this decision here today,” NASCAR Spokesman, Kerry Tharp said. “While we are disappointed by today’s outcome, we stand firmly behind our inspection process. The inspection of engines, and engine parts and pieces has always been regarded as the holy grail throughout the industry — that along with fuel and tires. In violations such as these, we have no other reinforcement process than to penalize the team owner and team members. That’s how our system works.”

The first thing that comes to my mind after reading that statement is, how out of touch with how NASCAR has developed over the years are these guys? Do they not know that JGR can’t even touch the internal engine? If their only course of action is to “penalize the team owner and team members,” how do they explain the whole ‘Manufacturer’s Championship’ and their initial penalty to Toyota of five points? (Which, by the way was increased by the appellate board, as common sense dictates, to seven points.)

Over the last 65 years, their ‘due process’ may have served them all well and good, but that was back when racing engines were being built by individual men and NOT entire corporations.

How on earth do grown men, supposedly smart men, sit down and come up with the harsh penalties they did with this particular JGR case? It simply boggles the mind! How, on one hand, does NASCAR claim to be ‘on the cutting edge’ of almost everything, and yet not realize the way the sport, the teams and the entire process of fielding a Cup car, has modernized to the point that maybe infractions such as this ought to be dealt with in a manner befitting a 2013 Cup team and not a 1973, or even a 1993 Cup team?

And NASCAR wonders why the fans show just passing interest these days! With a sanctioning body that appears to have totally lost touch with reality, how can you take it seriously?

Ironically, despite what some of our writers on here may tell you, this last week was one of the best restrictor plate races I have witnessed in years. Maybe this ‘Gen Six’ car won’t turn out to be ‘Gen Sux’ after all!

Stay off the wall, (you might get penalized for ‘actions detrimental to the concrete’!)

Jeff Meyer

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Today on the Frontstretch:
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05/10/2013 08:40 AM

This article should have been at the top of the webpage yesterday.

The decision not to do so blows my mind and questions the motives of this site.

05/10/2013 09:49 AM

Great article Jeff ! You said it all!!! YooHoo Mr France and friends !! You should all read this and rethink what is coming out if your office,

05/10/2013 09:53 AM

So what do you propose? Monetary penalties certainly dont bother these megateams, so what do you do?
To say that Gibbs didnt know just isnt a valid point. He hired TRD so is responsible. Perhaps people are too quick to accept the public image of some of their heros.
Nascar is widely known to have turned a blind eye in the past to violations, for that and other reasons they have no credibility.
So again how do you fix it?

Mike H
05/10/2013 10:24 AM

So the holy grail is, engines, fuel & tires?? As you say & most readers [with 1/4 of a brain] know, most teams engines are sealed the same for all users. If fuel is such a big part too? I don’t remember the HUGE penalty a while back at Daytona? Only a “gee whiz, I don’t know what that stuff is??” I know nascar “looks on the cutting edge” of things! All that usually means is, you’ve got the knife upside down!

05/10/2013 10:26 AM

Well said Jeff!!! What a bunch of clowns in charge !!!!

fed up
05/10/2013 11:23 AM

Where was all the backlash when Carl Long got nailed? Why isn’t any of the so-called journalists touching the
Brian France divorce release?

05/10/2013 12:27 PM

These failed inspections smell to high heaven. I think the message has been driven home to the owners to sit on your drivers and make sure they toe the company line. The Gibbs penalty was spurred by Hamlin’s mouth; Penske’s by Kez and baby boy in the 22. Tony Stewart is afraid to tell us his opinion on cars or tires begging the media to fill in the blanks; kinda like what Newman did last weekend, albeit poorly. I expect someone at SHR will fail inspection in the next few weeks in retaliation. And then there’s the robots at Hendricks fully rehearsed and corporate polished telling us how everything is puppies and roses in NASCAR. They’ve fallen in line like good little soldiers. Sure, I could be wearing a tinfoil hat, but knowing NASCAR has given out secret fines and has a murky rules system is quite the incubator for conspiracy theories.

05/10/2013 01:46 PM

I know alot of teams “outsource” their engines..doesn’t this open Pandora’s box? A team can say “I didn’t know a thing about it” (what ever “it” is) and a win will be a win etc. This could be ripe for abuse, how is Nascar going to properly handle that proable scenario?

Andy D
05/10/2013 03:01 PM

“I expect someone at SHR will fail inspection in the next few weeks in retaliation.”

I expect that it won’t be Princess Sparklepony.

I’m sure that NASCAR realizes the dilemma they have with only four engine suppliers for 43 cars, and that they are working on solutions. The engine builder has to be penalized at least as much as the team running the engine.

Imagine that Keselowski and Edwards are running neck and neck in the chase with two races left to go. Ooops! The Penske car has an illegal motor and gets a 25 point penalty. Advantage Edwards.

05/10/2013 03:46 PM

Nascar has brought all this crap on themselves and they deserve the backlash. If only we could get the Brian France years over sooner before Nascar falls down farther.

Folks used to kind-of snicker at the so-called “phantom debris cautions”. Now we know they were, and sometimes still are, very real. Teams and drivers PLAN for it. The TV producers don’t even try to find and show the debris anymore unless it’s obvious.

Remember when Nascar called all the drivers in that meeting to have a little chat about them (the drivers) complaining about the cautions? Nascar basically told the drivers to shut up because they were making so much money, so don’t rock the boat and put on a good show.

Kevin in SoCal
05/10/2013 04:14 PM

I agree with Amazed. I dont care where you get your engine from, its your responsibility to make sure the engine is legal before you install it into your car.

Lunar Tunes
05/10/2013 05:22 PM

Kevin in So Cal…
So,Gibbs is supposed to tear down every engine it gets to make sure its all good? BS! The whole point of a ‘supplier’ is to build the product to spec., whether its an engine or a tire from goodyear. nascar knows where each and every team gets their engines, be it from a supplier such as TRD or a team that builds them in house. Each decision on an infraction has to take that into account. An ‘in house’ builder would deserve a harsher penalty, just common sense.

Here’s a puzzle for you all, say a SHR driver (who gets their engines from Hendrick) is neck and neck pointswise with a Hendrick drive for the Cup coming into Homestead….whats to stop hendrick builders from purposely intalling an illegal part into a engine destined for SHR? The only thing that stops that is I’m sure engines are built and then selected at random by the teams so there is no way of that happening.

05/10/2013 06:12 PM

“Are the powers that be, that out of touch with common sense?”

We’re talking Brian here. End of discussion.

05/11/2013 12:07 AM

I only read a little of you article and didn’t need to go any farther. All I could think of was Mr. Long whose old worn out engine cost him everything. I still to this day don’t understand why the rocket scientist in the Ivory Tower of Daytona even felt that they had to measure the cylinder bores on an engine that was so baked. Now we all find out how filthy rich KING BRAIN is and that sort of explains it all, as he cries about not getting tax payers to fund expansion around Daytona. Haven’t watched any WWE Staged Entertainment, laughingly called NA$$$$CAR for a long time and I don’t think I ever will again. Enjoy throwing darts a Baby Face though, me thinks he’s the one who needs a piss test!!!

another Andy D
05/11/2013 09:50 AM

I don’t buy that NASCAR can’t regulate the outside suppliers. They can suspend their products from competition if found to be in violation of the rules.
I don’t see the point of buying an assembled engine or transmission, then tearing it down to make sure everything is in spec.
Maybe NASCAR wants teams to built their own stuff again.


Contact Jeff Meyer

Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

Voices From The Cheap Seats: The Tale Of Two Tires
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