The Frontstretch: Five Points to Ponder: Memorial Day Weekend Edition by Mike Lovecchio -- Monday May 25, 2009

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Five Points to Ponder: Memorial Day Weekend Edition

Mike Lovecchio · Monday May 25, 2009


Longing for Leniency

You know that big senior bully who picks on the little freshman in high school? That’s what NASCAR has been accused of on several occasions in the past month with the suspensions of Jeremy Mayfield and Carl Long. The recent 12-week, $200,000 fine for Long’s engine that was a fraction of an inch too big has crippled the income of the longtime part-time driver. After the appeals process is over – which given NASCAR’s history is unlikely to be overturned – Long will be shunned from the garage for the length of his suspension, preventing him from being a Nationwide Series crewman as well. Now, if NASCAR is trying to set an example with a team they think the fans don’t care about, they’re wrong. Fans like an underdog, and fans have a heart. Sure, Long’s team broke a major rule, but this is a team and a person whose income is now crippled by a seemingly excessive penalty. The fans understand that… and the fans don’t like that. And in the end, the fans are who the sport is trying to win back more than anyone else.

Draining Daytona

As a fellow Daytonian, I can I honestly say the city of Daytona Beach had its share of rain this week. Flooding was widespread throughout the entire county, leaving several families stranded in or away from their homes. But the most alarming evidence of the high amount of rainfall was seen in the popular internet photos of Daytona International Speedway seen HERE.

As you can see in the photographs, there was a high amount of standing water located on the inside portion of the backstretch, tunnel, and infield. Track spokesman Andrew Booth says there is no apparent damage to the track, but you have to wonder if the already weathered racing surface will eat up tires with absolutely no rubber on it, or if any other unforeseen factors will interfere with the racing in July after that type of flooding.

NASCAR’s New Series

iRacing has joined the ranks of the NASCAR sanctioned series … what? If you missed the memo, it came out this week that the racing simulator which pits fans against technologically savvy drivers like Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will begin in 2010. Now, the NASCAR purist in me is wondering why the sanctioning body is even bothering getting involved with this project, but the “Playstation generation” and former Papyrus: NASCAR Racing 2003 online competitor in me thinks this is absolutely awesome. Since Papyrus disbanded years ago, NASCAR simulator fans everywhere have had no real unified place to race in cyberspace.

Any type of simulation is critical in an age where drivers are less accessible, as the ability for the average person to compete against their heroes is a unique way for them to interact with their fans. It doesn’t matter if that connection comes from a game, a social networking Web site, or a blog… that’s what the sport needs.

Never one to mince words, Bruton Smith spoke out this weekend on two of the hottest topics in the sport right now.

Bruton’s Brutal Truth

If you’ve been waiting for a high-profile figure to speak out against the recent troubles in the sport, then you had to be ecstatic to hear the words that came out of SMI chairman Bruton Smith’s mouth this weekend. On the Carl Long suspension, he called the fine “ridiculous” and an “injustice;” on the Jeremy Mayfield drug fiasco he said, “Let NASCAR tell us what drug he was on;” and he also mentioned how happy he was the awards banquet was moved to Las Vegas, close to an SMI facility where he’s clamoring for a second date.

It’s nice for fans to hear they aren’t the only one’s with questions and concerns — now, will NASCAR listen? LIVE BLOG comment of the race

Each week, I will further expand on some of the more interesting fan comments from our weekly LIVE Cup race blog. The Coca-Cola 600 may have been postponed, but not before some some intriguing conversation:

What are your predictions for when Dave Blaney will park his car? Lap 20?

— Clay on the recent start and parking of Blaney

It’s been no secret that Dave Blaney and other low-budget teams have been starting races only to park shortly after the green flag and collect the check that comes with simply making the field. Blaney and the No. 66 Prism Motorsports team has been S&Ping races because they don’t have financial banking, but with Aaron’s on the hood this weekend, expect Blaney to try and run the full 600 miles in a car that was surprisingly quick in the Sprint Showdown last week.

P.S.: Our live blog pops up again today at noon! Come join the fun!

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Racing to the Point: NASCAR Has Its Own Heartbreak Kid
Beyond the Cockpit: Brittany Force, the Fastest Force
Voices from the Cheap Seats: Advertising for Dummies
Who’s Hot / Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: Off Week-Richmond Edition
Couch Potato Tuesday: Picking The Best IndyCar On-Air Personalities


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M.B. Voelker
05/25/2009 07:39 AM

Biased rule enforcement is always wrong. Its wrong to be biased in favor of the “fat cat” and its wrong to be biased in favor of the “little guy”.

The idea of blind justice, applied equally to all regardless of circumstances, is one of the foundational principles of western thought.

Fairness means that the rules apply equally to all. If a race team is so severely underfunded that getting the same penalty that would be given to Hendrick, Roush, Childress, Gibbs, etc. for the same infraction will wipe them out then they have two options.

#1. Make 100% sure that they absolutely will NOT commit any possible infraction.

#2. Choose to race in a series that they can actually afford to run.

If wear can cause an engine to become too big to be legal and you can’t afford to pay the penalty for an oversized engine then make 100% certain that you replace your engine before it reaches that point.

If you can’t afford to replace your engines when they become excessively worn you can’t afford to race in Nascar’s top series.

You can’t live in a fantasy dream world forever. At some point reality is going to assert itself. If you take reality into account from the start and don’t try to climb mountains without a safety rope you survive the fall.

05/25/2009 08:46 AM

MB, the bottom line here is this: when have you seen Hendrick, Rousch, etc, get so severe a penalty? NAXCAR won’t penalize its big sponsor teams because they would lose money. With Long it doesn’t matter, because he has no big name sponsor. NASCAR doesn’t penalize equally. You would know that, if you opened your eyes.

05/25/2009 09:15 AM

Hendrick has a history of cheating and more times then not he has been not to bring said car back to the track. Carl Long buys/rents an engine that is oversized but still underpowered, which he has took responsablity for. And he receives a record fine. I would just like to know that Jimmie Johnson Chad Knaus would receive the same or worse fine (considering their history of working outside the rules) for this offense.

05/25/2009 09:47 AM

I don’t always agree with old DW, but he went to bat for Carl Long on the 600 telecast yesterday!! Larry MacReynolds was kind of whishy washy on it, and of course the old NA$CAR “Homeboy” Mike Joy was afraid to say anything about it!! This penalty is so unfair it is hard to comment on it !! And NA$CAR is wondering what has gone wrong.

05/25/2009 11:20 AM

Hey M.B. Voelker, WOW!

YEP! Lets make racing only for the filthy rich!

Maybe NA$CRAP can do a credit check on potential teams to insure their credit rating allows for unlimited expenditures!

WOW! What a neat idea!

Just too bad that’s not the way NASCAR got started! NASCAR got started with guys flat towing their cars to the track, with their race tires stuffed inside.

Yeh, lets throw out history, as Brian Farce continues to do!

Frankly, you need to get a life!

AND! If you notice, in my references to the past, I actually used the word NASCAR, not NA$CRAP, because “back in the days”, you know, before Brian Farce came along, NASCAR was a tremendous organization and put on one whale of a show! Starting with the guys building their cars in their own garages piece by piece.

Following your thinking, we simply would NEVER, EVER, had a Jr. Johnson, A Bobby Allison, a Donnie Allison, a Richard Petty! THE KING!

Or even the colorful Curtis Turner! How about a Wendell Scott? He sure had ton’s of money to back him up!

How sad would that be?

I am sure their are hundreds of drivers who competed on the shoestring! And frankly, that’s how NASCAR got started!

But as we know, the current NA$CRAP is simply a business to make King Brian more and more beer money, history and fairness be damned!

And we all know Carl Long had ZERO intention or intent to circumvent the rules!

As mentioned above, more serious violations of the rules have only resulted in a slap-of-the-hand to larger teams.

Carl in PA
05/25/2009 12:00 PM

Douglas, sports evolve. Brian France did NOT take over a NASCAR with teams that trailer their cars behind an old pickup. It hasn’t been that way for decades now.

Heck, there aren’t many local racers that use open trailers, at least in my neck of the woods, anymore.

The point being that NASCAR’s top three series are not for the hobbyist. Carl Long belongs in ARCA or ASA club races. Nothing against either sanctioning bodies or Carl Long, but he was in over his head.

And yes wcfan, I’m almost certain that if Chad Knaus had bought that engine into inspection, the same fine and suspension would have handed down to him and HMS.

05/25/2009 12:36 PM

Yea, but we’re not talking about Mayfield now are we?
Way to wag the dog NA$CAR!

05/25/2009 02:52 PM

Wow, good to see that on Memorial day that EQUALITY is completely thrown out by the majority of people who have posted.

05/25/2009 03:56 PM

Am I believing what I am reading?


How narrow minded we are!

Lets see, oh, I know, an example! An example provided directly from the NA$CRAP rule book! (I guess they have one, people tell me they do anyway!)

And a NA$CRAP rule is that no team should have any more than FOUR (4) cars!

The “INTENT” of this rule is to help “The Little Guy”!

So, if the organization wanted to eliminate the “little guy”, when then would they have a rule to protect the independent driver/team?

OK! OK! This rule is a feeble attempt at best, but at least an intent!

And WOW! Carl in PA!

I certainly know they don’t pull cars on open trailers anymore! You provide me with great news! WOW!

But, as a reminder, I said that was the way NASCAR got started.

Time and time again in this column and many others, the big complaint about the current NA$CRAP is that they are throwing history out the window!

All for the almighty $$$$, not to the benefit of good clean, decent, or even fair racing!

05/25/2009 04:57 PM

The problem with the punishment for Carl is it also takes away his way of making money. I guess M.B. Voelker thinks it’s a good punishment to take away the food off his table as well. All the while, fat cat Brian who has never had to wonder where his next meal is coming form sits in jusdgement. A little like a fat old elephant stomping on an ant. But here’s a good question. If the punishment is upheld, why don’t all those drivers in the top positions in points band together to pay his fine? To them it would be nothing and they would get it back later in the points fund at the end of the season.

05/25/2009 08:51 PM

Maybe MB could be appointed one of Obamys cabinet members. Sounds like she fits the bill. France and company, along with his followers it would seem, if full of arrogance.

05/25/2009 08:55 PM

And if we could only do what we could afford, there would never be any self made people.

M.B. Voelker
05/26/2009 04:15 PM

Its really scary to see that modern America has throw away the idea of merit-based achievement in favor of socialist class warfare and the politics of victimization.

The desire to be on top does not equate to the right to be on top. Being on top has to be earned.

The top level of motorsports in the US, the second-biggest motorsport in the world is not a place for hobbyists.

They have the right to try. But trying is no guarantee of success. And if you can’t afford the penalty for failure you should think long and hard before you take the risk.

Its not Nascar’s fault that Carl Long CHOSE to take a gamble he couldn’t afford to lose.

If justice is not blind then it is mere rule by favoritism. Isn’t that what you are all continually whining about?

05/26/2009 07:07 PM

Tell you one thing first, MB, I do not whine. And Im all in favor of the old addage, if you can’t run with the big dogs, stay under the porch. But the attitude of, if you can’t afford the penalties, don’t try it, doesn’t cut it. Especially if you don’t know what the penalties are. I assume from all your writings that you have a rule book. So maybe you should take Mike Heltons place. Long, who I really could care less about, shouln’t be shut off from his day job because his engine was too big, or because his trap door came loose on his long-johns or whatever happened. The need to work and provide for your family, when you do that job admirably, is not part of a socialisic community. Just tell him not to bring his car back to the track, and life goes on.

M.B. Voelker
05/27/2009 08:59 AM


Why, other than the belief that the rules should not apply equally to all, do you say that Long shouldn’t be penalized for his violation?

If wear can cause an engine to become illegal it is necessary to replace engines before that happens. If you can’t afford to replace your engine on the appropriate schedule you can’t afford to run that series.

If a person chooses to gamble with something he can’t afford to lose then its his own fault when he finds himself in trouble.

05/28/2009 11:20 PM

You figure it out. You seem to have all the answers and everybody else shouldnt even have an opinion. Go ahead, you do it.

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