NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Professor Of Speed · Mark Howell · Thursday March 8, 2012
You never get that taste
Now that the 2012 Sprint Cup season is off-and-running – away from the hysteria of Speedweeks and heading west for events at Phoenix and Las Vegas – NASCAR Nation can finally get down to some important business: Namely, what effect will “Pillargate” have on the competitive fortunes of Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus, Hendrick Motorsports, and the No. 48 Lowes Chevrolet? Will the team’s unique interpretation of the rulebook and their innovative use of sheet metal reduce “Five Time” to little more than a wild card shot for this year’s championship? Once a team has been tagged by NASCAR officials for engaging in “actions” deemed “detrimental to stock car racing”, has not the rest of their season been reduced to being watched with intense suspicion from all angles? In a word: you bet!
But can Johnson’s trials-and-tribulations at Daytona be singled-out as just another example of how he and his team became so good at so much for so long? While many credit talent and effort for the No. 48 team’s five-consecutive titles, there are others who simply shake their heads and say, “Told you so.”
My position in this regard is not so much about if and/or how the team played fast-and-loose with the NASCAR rulebook, but rather that it was actually quite natural for the team to do so in the first place – and that we should be seeing more race teams getting busted for much of the same behavior. As I see it, from a professional perspective, breaking rules is all driven by how we’re socially and culturally hard-wired.
Respected academics (and former colleagues) Jack Nachbar and Kevin Lause, in their acclaimed 1992 collection of essays exploring theories regarding the study of popular culture and its diverse assortment of artifacts, identify ten of what might be considered “traditional” or standard myths – stories based on beliefs and/or values that are essential to our interpretation and understanding of the world around us. As Nachbar and Lause see it, “Popular beliefs and values are those unseen convictions about the world which form a culture’s mindset and thus mold and color the way that that culture sees and interprets reality.” (“Popular Culture: An Introductory Text”. p. 82)
These myths take several different – yet easily recognized – forms. Some are more nationalistic in scope, like the notion of anti-intellectualism in America (why we, as a nation, tend to distrust those who come across as snobbish or elitist) or the idea that America is a land of endless abundance (all-you-can-eat buffet, anyone?). Others are more universal in their approach to reality, such as the myth of romantic love (the idea that true love conquers all) or the importance we place on the notion of the “nuclear” family (at the center of the “American Dream” with its focus on a husband and wife and their children). These myths operate as a reference point from which we can then better interpret the movements of our culture as it evolves before our very eyes.
One of the most predominant myths is that of going outside of the law in order to achieve justice. While Nachbar and Lause center their analysis on a more specific component of this myth – concentrating on the use of violence to achieve justice – the overall idea is that we tend to celebrate individuals who ignore the restrictions of authorities to do what’s believed to be necessary. This is the thrill some of us feel when we’re able to beat the police out of a ticket (speeding, or otherwise), or when we’re able to usurp those in power to gain an advantage for ourselves.
The myth, according to Nachbar and Lause, posits that “The Law [as set by some official agency or institution] is made by powerful figures who – at their best – create laws to foster the common good (but often ignore or run roughshod over individuals) or – at their worst – create a legal web which protects the status quo, punishes the innocent and fosters a bureaucracy which loses justice in the details of law.” (“Popular Culture: An Introductory Text”, p. 98) For examples, consider Alan Ladd’s role as the title character in the classic 1953 movie “Shane”, or Clint Eastwood’s portrayal of The-Man-with-No-Name in the “Spaghetti Westerns” of Sergio Leone during the mid-1960s. Both of these figures operated outside the law to achieve the justice they believed was necessary while being challenged by the actions of more authoritative forces.
Laws, in-and-of-themselves, are sticky wickets, as are the rules someone creates to better organize and/or govern a group’s behavior. Rules are formal guidelines that dictate how we are supposed to engage with the world around us; they stem from the inherent necessity we have to create order out of chaos, which is uncertain and typically beyond our control. The rules we so often follow are established criteria for how we should address particular situations. We adhere to both rules and laws because that is what the recognized authorities have set before us, even though we often find it detrimental to follow them religiously.
This is the predicament that Chad Knaus, Jimmie Johnson, and the entire #48 race team found themselves facing once they unloaded the Lowes Chevrolet at Daytona a couple of weeks ago. Initial inspection of their car for the 500 in NASCAR’s “room of doom” discovered problems with the C-pillars, which (we know now) had been improperly shaped so as to better deflect air from the rear of the car in an attempt to reduce drag at speed.
Simply put – in NASCAR-speak – they were caught cheating, having engaged in “actions detrimental to stock car racing”.
The C-pillars were removed and replaced with legal/proper ones, and the No. 48 team eventually (once the smoke cleared – literally – after Speedweeks) received its official punishment from the sanctioning body. Points of various forms were taken, crew chief Knaus and car chief Ron Malec were given both suspensions and probation, and financial penalties were levied. No matter that the car had passed previous inspections (four of them?!) without raising NASCAR’s suspicions – Knaus and company had been busted (again!) for cheating; when would this bunch ever learn?
Perhaps the more appropriate question is, when will NASCAR ever learn that creative interpretations of their rulebook have been a part of the sport since there’s ever been a sport? Part of NASCAR’s creation stemmed from the fact that “Big Bill” France recognized severe inconsistencies in how races were organized and how competitors went about their business. This was during the “Wild West” era of stock car racing, the pre-NASCAR period when racing on dirt ovals meant looking out for number one if a driver hoped to finish number one. It wasn’t until the formation of NASCAR in 1948 that attention to order came into the sport, and along with the formal organization of stock car racing came…. a rulebook.
As the myth of going outside of the law to achieve justice shows us, we admire the chance one takes when challenging the status quo, when going up against “The Man” who’s always trying to keep the little guy down. The penalties for fighting the system might be harsh, but they’re worth the risk if they improve your odds for achieving success. To paint the No. 48 team and Hendrick Motorsports as “the little guy” might be a misnomer of epic proportions, but they operate within the realm of NASCAR and its rulebook; Chad Knaus may be part of a massive, wealthy, and powerful organization, but Hendrick Motorsports is still dwarfed by the authority of NASCAR. Sometimes you have to make an end-run around “the law” if you hope to win. That’s an unwritten rule if you want to make it in motorsports.
Competitors have tried to beat NASCAR’s system since its inaugural season of competition back in 1949. Even before the first “official” Strictly Stock (today’s Sprint Cup Series) race took the green flag that June, the newly-formed sanctioning body had already banned seven Modified drivers from posting entries for the more prestigious event. Three had been prohibited because they threw thumbtacks on the track during a race earlier that year, and four others were prohibited for “actions detrimental to auto racing”. A fourth driver was accused of tossing thumbtacks, but he was given a one-year suspension and allowed to enter the event (in what would soon become a NASCAR tradition).
As is often the case when we choose to break the rules in hopes of achieving some sense of justice, desperate times called for desperate measures – from all those involved in the sport.
The cheating and punishment didn’t end with the entry list on June 19th; when the checkered flag flew over the Charlotte Fairgrounds that afternoon, NASCAR found itself dealing with a less-blatant case of “detrimental” actions. The Strictly Stock race ended with Glenn Dunnaway taking the historic victory in a 1947 Ford owned and prepared by Hubert Westmoreland. There was one problem: Westmoreland’s Ford was a moonshine car, complete with wooden wedges shoved between the leaf springs in order to alter the car’s handling. Since the car stayed steady through the corners, Dunnaway was able to drive faster and gain a distinct advantage over second-place finisher Jim Roper and his 1949 Lincoln. Once NASCAR discovered the wedges during its post-race inspection of the car, Dunnaway was disqualified and the win was awarded to Roper.
So what does the first “official” Strictly Stock race in 1949 have to do with this year’s running of the Daytona 500? From a position of socio-cultural relevance, I’d say plenty. If you consider the popular/traditional myth of going outside the law to achieve justice, then the actions of Knaus, Malec, and the #48 team seem totally appropriate. When authority figures (or organizations like NASCAR) stack the deck against us through their creation and enforcement of formal rules, it’s only natural for those governed by such rules to feel threatened, as though success is being kept out of their grasp.
Granted, rules are intended to keep competition fair for all involved, putting the emphasis on skill and preparation, but it’s also part of our human psyche to try and find a loophole that might enable us to circumvent the official order and gain an advantage over our peers. Getting caught is often seen as being worth the trouble since the advantages (if successful) far outweigh the losses.
What Chad Knaus and his teammates did was to be expected, as it has been since the first time two automobiles lined up against each other on a dusty road. To assume that race teams adhere precisely to the NASCAR rule book is naïve. From flaring fenders and winding extra lengths of fuel lines to stiffening springs and customizing C-pillars, gathering a complete history of cheating in NASCAR would be akin to counting grains of sand of a stretch of beach; arguably, it could technically be done, but attempting the feat would be maddeningly impossible. Kind of like trying to consistently and creatively interpret the NASCAR rulebook.
So, is cheating wrong? From a moral and ethical standpoint, we’d say yes. From the position of a cultural anthropologist, however, the answer isn’t so obvious.
Going against the rules is often deemed improper, yet the majority of us tend to make a break here-and-there whenever the risk seems beneficial to our needs and desires. I may be on a strict diet, but maybe I’ll risk the scolding of my doctor by enjoying an extra piece of cake just this once — such was the thinking of the folks at Hendrick Motorsports.
Notice that the illegal C-pillars on the #48 Chevy passed NASCAR inspection and scrutiny four times previously. With such a rate of success, why wouldn’t the team try and run the car through tech yet again? It’s not that prior experience has been right or proper; it’s that prior experience conditions us to feel more comfortable about our actions. It’s like the kid who becomes a serial shoplifter because they’ve never been caught. I see this behavior from time to time at my job. Every now and then, a student will plagiarize some part of paper I’ve assigned in one of my courses. When I catch their dishonesty and call them on it, the student usually replies that they’ve copied other people’s work in school for years; why was it okay then, yet not okay now? The same question has been asked by Chad Knaus and company since getting busted at Daytona last month and subsequently penalized.
The logical progression is to appeal NASCAR’s penalty, which is sometimes the approach a student will take if they feel they’ve been unfairly accused of cheating.
While the option is always available to those who’ve been convicted of some illicit act (including criminals tried and found guilty in a court of law), the appeal process rarely overturns the entire penalty, even if the appeal acknowledges a need for any revision at all. Grade disputes at most colleges wind up simply reaffirming the professor’s initial judgment – one that was based on a close review of the material in question to begin with; once a rule or policy has been violated, unless there was a blatant disregard for detail during the review, there’s little impetus to alter the punishment as it stands. Sure, Chad Knaus and Ron Malec might have their suspensions reduced by a week or two, but would such a revision really matter?
Don’t forget that Chad Knaus won the 2006 Daytona 500 from his living room sofa; our brave new world of social media makes sitting atop the pit box fairly irrelevant.
So, too, may be our exasperation when we learn that a race team has been punished for breaking competition rules. It’s been going on regularly for the past 63 years (dating back to the first sanctioned events in 1949), and we are foolish to assume that it won’t continue, regardless of the penalties doled out by NASCAR. As long as the demands for success are high and the rewards for success are profitable (and as long as the competitors are human beings affected by culture), going outside the rulebook to achieve race day “justice” will be a fixture within our sport. To glean further context from the song “White Knuckles” by OK Go:
So just how far,
These guys must have worked for NASCAR…
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“Notice that the illegal C-pillars on the #48 Chevy passed NASCAR inspection and scrutiny four times previously.”
Do we really know this?
Dave is right John, do we really know or are we just taking the word of a convicted felon and liar and Chad, who’s honesty fall into question quite often……
Chad is a cheater and should be suspended forever, right? Not by a long shot. Who would actually bet money on the vast majority of the teams not leaping to hire him to run their team? What other crew chief has come out against him and his efforts? Everyone talks about his cheating and yet overlooked the plain fact that the 48 has been inspected more than any other car and passed the vast majority of them.
Chad is a brilliant innovator and like every other crew chief looks to the gray area’s to keep him competitive. Those that don’t understand that haven’t spent much time in the garage or on a track. They also seem to overlook the fact that in this case it was an eyeball judgement by some unnamed inspector and then was supposedly backed up by gauges and stuff said Darby. Eyeball and stuff in this technological era? Give me a break!
Nascar has long been known for it’s vindictiveness and dictatorial methods and using the gray area’s of their own rulebook to punish many to teach lessons to. In the end NASCAR is never wrong and never to be PO’d by anyone without retaliation. Chad is doing the job he should be doing.
Mark, your article was professorial and eloquent. Simply put, Chad and company boned it and NASCAR boned them back.
I tend to think in John’s lines. Just because the car was raced last year does not mean it was not touched over the winter.
MrClause, the grey areas you mention don’t apply to body parts. Once a body part is stamped out, or going further, once the car is complete, these guys are not supposed to manipulate the body in any way shape or form. (This of course does not include the finish grinding and sanding of weld joints.) My point is, there are no grey areas when it comes to the body. That’s one of the reasons why they came up with the Claw-style inspection tool that contacts so many body points simultaneously.
Chad’s done it before and got busted for it before. Nothing new here. Like you said, it’s innovative. The claw doesn’t touch the car near the c-pillars. But he got caught pushing the envelope.
I’m not a 48 hater and I’m not happy this is going on at all, just callin’ it like I see it.
Nice piece Mark.
“So, is cheating wrong? From a moral and ethical standpoint, we’d say yes. From the position of a cultural anthropologist, however, the answer isn’t so obvious.”
That’s why Robin Pemberton, and not some cultural anthropologist, is the director of competition.
So really… all those words to tell us that cheating is human nature? Okay, but it’s still wrong. If you don’t like the rules (and granted, some of Nascar’s rules are ridiculous), you either accept them, you try to get them changed, or you break them. If you choose the latter, you better be willing to pay the price if and when you get caught.
Mark you sure must love to hear(read) yourself talk …It is rare that this much talking down to Nascar fans is disguised as a complex article…Chads doing what should be done daily (looking for an edge) This is what built Nascar… I am NOT a JJ fan & they’ll get what they get…& I doubt Nachbar & Lause Would agree with the theory you use…Or is it you are paid by the word …Hope ya made deadline Prof?
@Earner – Bending the Rules, and Body Parts, will get you fines and suspensions. Chad just doesn’t care because Rick Hendrick pays the fines for him.
Not exactly what NASCAR wants on a daily basis.
I don’t think the car was exactly the same for all the races it passed. If any part was changed how could it be the same car. Same thing with the body. Who believes they never changed any part of the body or suspension? Did they use the same engine in each race?
NASCAR draws a line in the sand and says don’t cross it. They keep moving it but you still can’t cross it.