The Frontstretch: The Trouble with NASCAR Spelled Out on NASCAR.com by Jeff Meyer -- Wednesday March 14, 2007

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The Trouble with NASCAR Spelled Out on NASCAR.com

Voices From the Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Wednesday March 14, 2007

 

I am going to start this article off with a disclaimer:

It is NOT my intent to attack anyone personally that I may mention in this article. (Other than perhaps the Big BF) They are just doing their job to pay the bills. Fortunately for me, that is not a problem. If my editors do not like what I write, they have two choices. Don't publish it or find someone else to fill this spot. It IS my intention to attack the entity of NASCAR itself.

The problem with NASCAR was clearly spelled out in an article by David Caraviello on NASCAR.com yesterday.

Caraviello's article, which was titled "Johnson doing just fine without help from NASCAR" clearly points out, to me anyway, just how grossly the powers that be in NASCAR and its mouthpieces totally miss the point. Or, as is probably more likely, attempt to make YOU miss the point.

Without totally rehashing the article in question (for I've already given them enough hits) the basic gist of it is this: It is those that hate or are envious of Jimmie Johnson that are raising a big stink over whether or not Johnson should have received a second penalty late in Sunday's race for a tire being outside the pit box. There will always be conspiracy theorists.

That may be true to some extent, but the "smoking gun" in this particular article is the sentence… "Whether Johnson actually committed a violation is immaterial."

No NASCAR, it is not!!! That is EXACTLY the problem.

It is not that there are so many '48 haters' out there. The question that most are asking, and have been for a long time has nothing to do with Jimmie at all. The question is and was; Why is something a penalty one time and not another? The whole situation could have involved James Hylton for all that it matters, the question would still be the same.

What fans have been screaming about for years now, especially older fans, is CONSISTENCY! If it is a rule, enforce it every time!

Let me say at this point that while I DO NOT yet believe that NASCAR fixes races outright, they sure as shootin' DO use whatever is at their disposal, notably late and questionable cautions (or the lack thereof), to ENHANCE the outcome.

I have said, at some point EVERY year that I have written for Frontstretch.com, that in order for NASCAR to become a RESPECTABLE SPORT again, there HAS TO BE INDEPENDENT OFFICIALS to enforce the rules!

Someone please tell me, what would NASCAR, as a sanctioning body, as a privately owned golden goose, as the marketing magic beanstalk, have to lose if "it" gave up the officiating and ‘judgment calls' to an independent source?

The answer is NOTHING! In fact, it would actually gain respect and grow even more.

If NASCAR is continually led down the road it is currently traveling on, IT WILL CRASH AND CRASH HARD! Yes, quite a lot of people will end up extremely rich or richer, but the sport itself will suffer a fate far worse than any perceived ‘redneck image' that it attempted to run away from in the first place. Under the current leadership, the sport of stock car racing at its highest level will be in a discredited shambles within 10 years.

There is nothing wrong with making money. That is the American way. However, soon, even the stupidest masses, the very ones NASCAR is so bent on attracting, will either wise up or, as is more likely the case, lose interest and turn their attention to the next "WWF" that comes along.

The ONLY way that NASCAR will remain a CREDIBLE sport is if the ones that own the name stop officiating the game. NASCAR MUST avoid the very APPEARANCE of evil or impropriety if it wants to sustain even a vestige of the phenomenal growth it has enjoyed these past few years.

Brian France may have more money than you or I could make in a hundred lifetimes, but true racing fans have something he will never have; ethics and morals.

I'll take ethics and morals for 500 Alex!

Stay off the wall, (but jump on up here on my soapbox, there's room!)

Jeff Meyer

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Raul
03/15/2007 04:01 AM
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Quick like a bunny Jeff. That officials main purpose there is to insure a pit stop that is both safe, and within the rules. If a tire starts to roll out to pit road, that could present a safety issue. When the official stops the tire before a crewman does,avoiding a potential pit road hazard, then NASCAR doesn’t penalize the team.

Every time,

Consistently.

So really it IS immaterial if a violation was committed, because there wasn’t a violation in the eyes of NASCAR in that instance. Doesn’t matter if it’s Jimmie Johnson or anyone else.

Nobody important
03/15/2007 06:36 AM
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What makes me angry is that one official will stop a tire and another won’t. A – aren’t the officials on pit road to enforce the rules, i.e. to make sure all the lug nuts are tight etc? How can they do that while they are looking at and stopping a tire. B – Any time they allow an official to become part of the pit road activities, they run the risk of looking like favoritism is in play. The powers that be should make it a requirement that the officials do the work they are there to do, watch the pit crews, and not allow them to become part of the activities of the crews. But then again, they aren’t going to listen to us. We show up , no matter what they do….for the most part anyway.

Ed
03/15/2007 07:40 AM
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Great article! IMSA enforces for the ALMS races. NASCAR would do well to follow suit. I think it may “crash and burn” in less than 10 years. I think the downward spiral has already started. Older fans used to turn their heads when something strange happened, but there seemed to be less “rules” to enforce back then. Nevertheless, conspiracy theories or not, NASCAR’s “race fixing” has become much too obvious through selective enforcement and way too many long and unnecessary cautions. I guess the long cautions make for a lot of commercials and concession sales.

Brad
03/15/2007 09:44 AM
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Absolutely. After hearing the Earnhardt Memorial 500 on Feb 18th and then seeing the destruction on replay, I decided to not participate in the ratings that MR BF needs to continue to make money hand over fist. I own a business myself, but it is run on what is the best interest of my consumers. If I do it that way, I know any success that I have will translate into long term success not short gain. When NASCAR stops trying to “Enhance” the finish of a race, then I will return. Until then I must rely on the multitude websites that are not just mouthpieces for BF and his crew, because I still love drivers and the creativity of the crewchiefs and that is what I long for again.

kris alfonso
03/15/2007 09:48 AM
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Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. That was exactly my response to his article. I don’t usually send comments to writers but this one just didn’t sit right with me. The statement about if he did or didn’t is immaterial made me come out of my chair. “WHAT!!!”
You summed it up perfectly. Thanks again.

Don
03/15/2007 09:55 AM
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WOW!!! Great article. That’s all I can say

James Faw
03/15/2007 09:56 AM
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Jeff Meyer’s article is great. I wonder why Jimmy Johnson was given the unfair advantage of having an extra man in the pits. (the NASCAR Offical). Most teams are penalized for having too many men “over the wall”. Johnson gets away with it because the extra man was working for NASCAR. They really wanted him to win that race.

ERIN
03/15/2007 10:24 AM
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Word for word I sent this to NA$CAR.com 3/14….... Before you read this..let me tell you..I am NOT a 48 hater..or a 24 hater..or a Hendrick hater. AND, I realize your writings are your opinion and not necessarily the law according to Garth. Now, that being said..I have no problem with the official stopping tires..none whatsoever..It has been said they do it in the name of safety..Well..I just wonder where that “SAFETY” was the lastlap of Daytona…yes yes..that again.. I have no problem with NA$CAR and their rules..as long as they stick to them..and best I can figure..without the benefit of an elusive NA$CAR rule book..having equipment out of the pits and the car leaving the pits while said equipment is wandering..is a violation..AND even though the offical caught the tire..there should have been a penalty..for ANY driver. Now..that said..I do believe NA$CAR bends and adjusts the rules for the race..not necessarily for a certain driver..but for the race..excitment and all that..and I have a HUGE problem with that…i.e. cautions (Jock DeBris) to gather up the field..cautions for a one car spin completely out of the way..because the cars are short on fuel and NA$CAR is looking for a good finish..etc..Anyhow..I would love an indepth column on THAT subject .. or would NA$CAR.com allow that? Anyhow..JJ being the best driver in the last 5 years??..welll!!!.. I will give you the best TEAM (they always seem to be on their mark and very seldom miss a cue)..BUT..the best driver…I do believe you will have to save that accolade for a certain driver of the 20 car..a Mr. Tony Stewart I do believe.. I am not a fan of a certain driver..I am a fan of the races and the skill it takes to get around the track…and head to head I do believe Mr. Stewart has more raw talent then any driver of this era..and he knows how to use it. I would have to wonder how well Mr. Johnson would do if his team wasn’t so tight. I give them their just rewards..but as a TEAM... as a DRIVER..it HAS to be Mr. Stewart.

I haven’t heard back from Mr. Caraviello….

Mike
03/15/2007 10:26 AM
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You hit the nail right on the head Jeff. NASCAR and it’s consistent inconsistency combined with the greed of the current regime is going to be the death of the sport as we know it.

I’ve suggested in the past that the officiating body be a seperate body from the sanctioning body and I’m glad to see I’m not alone in this. This is one way to ensure the legitimacy of the sport and not just the WWE on Wheels which is what it’s starting to look like.

Speaking of which, WWE is an associate sponsor on Jeremy Mayfield’s car. Check out the decal on the “C” Post. Do they know something we don’t?

Keep up the good work Jeff.

Joe
03/15/2007 11:33 AM
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You are 100% correct!!! Today’s(Brainless Brian’s) NASCAR is getting worst by the race! I sure hope and pray Big Bill Jr is OK, it will really get out of control if anything happens to him. Get Well Soon, PLEASE!!! Joe

Connie
03/15/2007 12:14 PM
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It was clear that nobody on JJ’s team was going to be able to stop the tire so the offical did. I feel that if a team can not do its job or does it in such a careless way that a Nascar offical has to indanger his or her own life to do the teams job for saftey sake then it should be a penalty. How else will teams learn saftey fisrt and to do their own job? Allowing fast sloppy pit stops is wrong for ANY team including mine.

Jim
03/15/2007 12:58 PM
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YES! Well said. Independent officiating is one of the main things that seperate Sport from Entertainment.

Chris2
03/15/2007 01:49 PM
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Jeff, I agree 100% with you. If you back it up a day though to the Busch race the same situation happened but was not reported. I can’t recall who got caught for having “equipment out of the box” but someone did. On what I think was the last round of pitstops the had the in-car camera on Kyle Buschs car..you can clearly see one of his tires roll out of the box and Kyle takes off. No mention of this from the talking heads in the booth..(which these guys_are_awful but that is another story). Why was one brought back down pit road while another wasn’t? How hard is it to enforce the simpliest rules NASCAR? Next day was more of the same with the 48…I, like you, could care less if it was Morgan Sheperd or Tony Stewert..just be consistant. Your point too on independent officials makes sense to me..bad enough that NASCAR has their own corporation for racetracks..seems that NASCAR loses alot of credibility by owning the whole deal. Hence it heading down the WWF highway in top gear..

Brian France Sucks
03/15/2007 02:47 PM
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I’m drinking your Kool-Aid Jeff. If an official has to stop a tire, or any other piece of equipment from rolling out of a pit box, it should be a penalty. PERIOD. If there is a debris caution, we should be able to see the debris. PERIOD. If a track sucks and no one attends the race, it should not have two dates. PERIOD. Had to throw that in there too, Fontana is as exciting as a trip to the dentist. And finally, somebody tell Vince McMahon (oops, Brian France) to quit altering races for perceived excitement, and if the public and public officials show a lot of resistance to a new venue, then leave them the hell alone and look somewhere else. And oh yeah, get someone other than Tony Stewart’s pet monkey to produce the schedule, cause’ someone with a similar level of intelligence is currently in charge of that(probably an ISC guy).

Julie
03/15/2007 03:01 PM
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For once NASCAR was being consistent. Officials stop tires every race, several times a race.

Be careful what you wish for – because I guarantee that the next time the official catches the tire from your favorite team you won’t be crying out loud about the lack of a penalty.

Lynn
03/15/2007 04:08 PM
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As I read this article (which was excellent by the way) and all the comments from other fans I had to ask myself, does ANYONE of any importance from NASCAR read all this stuff? I mean we can stomp and scream all we want but does anyone read it and say, “We really need to look into incidents like this and make sure our officials are really doing their job and being fair across the board or we’re going to lose a lot of fans.” To stop the tire for safety reasons is great heads up officiating but then just saying “oopsy” and ignoring the fact that it happened is just plain NOT FAIR!!! I am not a Johnson fan nor a Johnson hater but I think the fact that he went on to win the race really put the sting in it. If Jimmie was my favorite driver I’d be walking around with a real bittersweet feeling about that victory.

Gary Hammond
03/15/2007 04:23 PM
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In my opinion, NA$CAR died with Rockingham and THE Southern 500. The eulogy was the chase for the chump points scam. What used to be the best racing in the world is now nothing but just another stupid and insulting network sitcom and just as scripted. Is it any wonder the TV and attendace is going in the toilet? ... and Brian France can’t understand why the major media won’t cover his silly little series… Hey Brian… the major media doesn’t cover pro wrestling either… GET IT???

Thomas Sutton
03/15/2007 04:28 PM
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Great totally Iam one of the oldsters that NA$CAR is chasing away

RICK
03/15/2007 06:39 PM
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It doesn’t matter if it’s my most disliked driver [johnson] or my favorate driver [Tony Stewart] when a na$car offical becomes involved because the team screws up there should be a penalty

D. Alexander
03/15/2007 07:31 PM
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Jeff, great article! I’m glad that someone has the guts to say what needs to be said. If we had more people like you and Tony Stewart who were willing to call it like they see it instead of towing the NASCAR line(and I’m talking about you DW and company)this sport would be much better off.

Mark
03/15/2007 10:51 PM
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I don’t have a problem with the Official stopping the Tire that got away and I don’t think that’s what most people are upset about. The problem is that the Tire rolled into another Pit Stall which I thought was a Penality but now I guess it all depends on who you are. I think Nascar will have to be very careful in the Future when Penalizing someone for a Run-Away Tire or someone may bring this incident may get brought up. On the Forum, I hear about the Mystery Debris Cautions that are called just to HELP D.Earnhardt Jr but when things like this happen it’s all quite and why, Because alot of people know that J.Johnson recieved ALOT of help at Vegas. I have been watching Nascar since the 80’s and I agree that the Inconsistencies have gotten out of hand. I agree that Nascar will Crash & Burn in the Future. I thought this was a GREAT Article.

Brian
03/16/2007 12:51 AM
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From what I’ve seen and heard since this incident, not a single driver or crew chief found fault with what went on during Jimmie’s pit stop. They all seem to support NASCAR’s non-call whole-heartedly, especially since Chad was holding Jimmie until he confirmed the tire was under control. I, and apparently many drivers and crew chiefs, completely disagree with your point of view. You apparently love and hate NASCAR at the same time.

Mike C
03/16/2007 03:27 AM
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I’ve been following NASCAR since the Eighties almost never missing a race on the tube until last year. What changed it? NASCAR. Fans that have been around for a long time grow tired of all of the Chase crap, race tracks losing races and all of the plastic, cookie cutter interviews.

I miss the Rockingham races and racing at Darlington. Heck for that matter bring back Hickory and North Wilkesboro. The downturn started with the new mile and a half tracks that came about. One team gets it figured out and they are golden the rest of the way. A good mile or 3/4 mile track would do wonders for the series and perhaps bring back some of the old fans like me.

Doug Wietzke
03/16/2007 04:55 AM
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Gary Hammond made the point very well. It just hasn’t been the same since we lost the TRADITION. Don’t expect the greed kings to back off until the last penny is sucked into their gapping maw. From a “diehard fan” to a “check during the commercial” is the path I have taken and expect to see more people take. NA$CAR is on life support and until they realize that the fans PAY attention to the who’s and also the why’s of each win the sport will fade away.
I applaud Jeff Meyer for not just complaining but offering up a real solution/improvement. NA$CAR needs to get an unbiased officating organization to oversee races and enforce penalties. This will go a looooong waaaay to improving not just rule enforcement consistancy but over all safety and that makes better racing.
Now if we could just get the France’s to listen, oh that’s right just like the country, deaf in one ear and hard of hearing in the other.

Ty
03/16/2007 07:22 AM
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Great Article Jeff , this is what I’ve been complaining about for Years , The Lack of Consistancy in the Enforcement of Rules. Nascar says that the Offcial stopped the Tire for Safety Reasons Fine ,and that a Crew Member retrieved it prior to the Car leaving the Pits , Fine . But a penalty should be applied due to the fact that the Tire left the Pit Box . Without the Official Due Deligence the Tire very well would have been a flying object prior to intervention by any crew member…end of discussion…Baby !

Terry Mcdonald
03/16/2007 07:49 AM
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A lot to do about nothing. get over it. If that official didn’t put his foot up to stop that tire someone should have put the foot to his rear end. It would be hard to penalize a team for stumbling and dropping a tire.

Jeff Meyer
03/16/2007 07:00 PM
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The point of my article is…................and a lot of people just cant seem to get over the JJ thing…..

INDEPENDENT officials are needed to make the calls. The whole situation could go down the very same way, and a penalty may very well have NOT been called. However, if it was called (or not called) by someone other than the people that OWN the game, we would all just live with it and the whole conspiracy thing would be out the window.

With NASCAR owning everything associated with every aspect of the sport, they, ESPECIALLY they, need to avoid the VERY APPEARANCE of any type of favoritism or minipulation of the outcome of a race.

If NASCAR were to simply give up the officiating to impartial, independant staff, the re-establishment of CREDIBILITY to the sport would be immeasurable.

It is the ONLY WAY the sport will survive. NASCAR could own everything for all I care, just as long as the race is FAIR and impartial and may the best man win.

Dave W
03/17/2007 08:58 AM
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Great article. Like Kris above, I don’t normally respond to article writers. I’ve been a fan for 11 years, not sure I qualify as an “oldster” but long enough to have seen the transition as of late. After watching every single race between then and now, I did not watch Vegas race. Why? After the botched “no call” at Daytona (I must at this point let the gentle readers know that I happen to be a huge Mark Martin fan…) combined with the Phantom debris caution at California, I’ve decided that NASCAR has become a little too much like pro “wrestling”. I will still follow NASCAR through Jayski’s site, but I think that, at least for a while, I don’t need to sit and watch them figure out how to alter a race outcome. Seems to me NASCAR got hugely popular under the “old” format. (You know, before the chase format that they instituted because of Matt Kenseth’s one-win championship season.) NASCAR should “dance with the one who brung them”, not pander to the often-flakey younger generation who may or may not continue watching. At least I have my Sunday afternoons free for other activities now.

 

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Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

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