The Frontstretch: Where Are All The Purists Now? by Mike Neff -- Tuesday February 13, 2007

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Where Are All The Purists Now?

Full Throttle · Mike Neff · Tuesday February 13, 2007


One year ago, Chad Knaus was led from the track after the No. 48 car failed post qualifying inspection at Daytona. This year, the No. 9 and No. 17 appear to have been found with similar aerodynamic infractions in post-qualifying inspection. Yet, for some reason, Robby Reiser and Kenny Francis have been allowed to stay in Daytona…they are working on their cars and preparing them for the Gatorade Duels until a final decision comes down on the rules infractions. How can NASCAR possibly consider this fair and equitable treatment?

If the rules violations are similar to the No. 48 infraction from last year, then Reiser and Francis should already be in North Carolina. The only question should simply be whether their suspension is four races or more? But instead, they are still in the garage at Daytona. Working on their cars, leading their teams like they do every race week. What kind of message is NASCAR sending with this decision?

Unfortunately, it is a difficult message to decipher. Could it be that Reiser and Francis have not had the track record for pushing the limits that Knaus is known for? If so, NASCAR is being too lenient. Or is it that Toyota had a rules infraction, too, with Michael Waltrip’s car, and they're trying to figure out a way to keep from having to severely penalize their newest manufacturer in their very first weekend in the series? That theory, of course, would basically render all of their decisions totally, baseless and all of their credibility would be destroyed. The final thought is that Jack Roush has made such a stink about Toyota coming in and buying the series that NASCAR is trying to soften the blow, trying to avoid looking like they are picking on Roush any more than they have in the past. Whatever their reason, every day that Reiser and Francis are in the garage damages the credibility of NASCAR to enforce their rules fairly.

The greater question in this whole scenario is…what has happened to all of the NASCAR purists? Last year, there were people all but burning Chad Knaus in effigy. People were screaming that he should be banned from NASCAR, howling that there was no place in the sport for a cheater, and that his actions were more than just detrimental to the sport. Leading up to the race, the purists in both the press and the stands labeled him and undesirable element at best, one that should be stricken from the sport for all eternity. Now that these latest violations have come to light…where is the hue and cry for these two crew chiefs?

No one has been beating the drum to have Reiser and Francis ousted from the sport…every report that has been printed or broadcast has talked about how the decision has yet to be handed down. Everything has said that the qualifying times have been disallowed, and that seems like the extent of the penalties. If that is, in fact, the only penalty to be handed down, then there better be a loud cry from the masses that an injustice has been served on the entire sport.

There is no problem with working in the gray areas…that is a crew chief's job. For example, the shock absorbers that the Hendrick cars used at Dover a few years ago were simply a stroke of genius, and they should be commended for engineering something so smart. But blatantly violated the rules is a whole different story. Reiser and Francis are responsible for the actions of their race teams. If their cars were presented for inspection with some device or configuration that was deemed to give them an unfair aerodynamic advantage, then they are in the same boat that Knaus was in last year. A device was engineered with the intent of circumventing the rules…not working in the gray area, but blatantly disregarding the rules. If that is the case, then Reiser and Francis should be watching the qualifying races and the Daytona 500 from their Barcoloungers in front of their plasma screens this week, and the next four or five races, too. It is completely irresponsible of NASCAR to treat them any less harshly than they did Chad Knaus last year. If anything, they should receive a larger fine and a longer suspension to attempt to further deter bending the rules in the future.

So, all of the purists from last year, it’s time to rise up and take action. The phone lines in Daytona should be lit up, there should be a protest going on outside of NASCAR headquarters, and a petition signing campaign should be underway all across the country. Simply put, it’s time to do everything possible to get the cheaters out of the sport. We're waiting to hear from you, NASCAR purists…let's not be hypocritical now.

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02/13/2007 12:40 AM

Interesting article Mike.

Could the answer(s) to your questions about whether Robby Reiser and/or Kenny Francis should be suspended like Chad Knaus was be that what Chad was caught doing was blatent, and what Robby and Kenny were “caught” doing wasn’t blatent?

As I understand it, there is a hole in the wheel wells that aids cooling of the oil by directing air to the oil cooler. That hole is required to be covered for qualifying. That hole was plugged on one of the cars and duct taped on the other prior to qualifying and passed inspection, pre-qualifying. I don’t recall which was which.

After qualifying, those holes were found to be exposed. The question is, did the plug and the tape come off accidentally, or were the covers rigged to come off?
That would be a grey area, not a blatent attempt to cheat. Ergo, the seriousness of the infraction shouldn’t be the same as a blatent “cheat”.

Ya reckon?

Colin Baird
02/13/2007 04:23 AM

Mike: The so called cheating in NASCAR is very similar to lying to a Congressional investigation. What’s the big deal. Lying to a group of Congressmen that are all known liars and thieves themselves should not be a crime. On the same hand, cheating in NASCAR when NASCAR itself cannot, and will not govern the sport fairly and equally
should not be a punishable offense. What is wrong with cheating among cheaters? NASCAR has little credibility and is well know for looking the other way when certain individuals violate the rules both on and off the track while others get the book thrown at them for the simplest infractions.
Just suck it up and let the Crew Chiefs do their jobs and let the Drivers race. NASCAR needs to spend all of it’s time counting it’s money, there’s plenty of that to do.

02/13/2007 06:49 AM

Could it be that it was because Chad worked for Hendrick Motorsports? It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve seen fans have double standards for drivers they like vs drivers they don’t like. I guess I am surprised that more fans aren’t bashing Michael Waltrip given the disdain expressed by the purist for Toyota.

02/13/2007 07:26 AM

Lets see, How many times has a Hendrick team got caught cheating? 8,10, more? They have given more money to the Nascar fund than all other teams combined. Nobody should be suprised that the number 9 caught cheating. Look who the owner is. He started his illustrious career at Hendrick with the 24.As for the 55, I think that the Toy company would do ANYTHING to get one of their key owners into the 500. The only way to stop the cheating is to suspend the whole team, WITH the driver. I don’t think the sponsors would really like that.

Bill B
02/13/2007 07:30 AM

When the rules are written in pencil and the governing body can play god, this is what happens. What ever happened to precedence and applying the same punishments for the same violations?

02/13/2007 08:55 AM

I think if you are caught cheating means you get booted from the race. I don’t care who you are. I think the whole team should get booted! being caught cheating should be punishable by losing your right to run your car in the race.

02/13/2007 09:36 AM

The only way to stop cheating is to make the whole team sit out the race . As long as Nascar takes bribe money from sponsors that will never happen .If someone like Morgen Sheppard gets caught he would be kicked out but not a big money team .

02/13/2007 10:57 AM

If NA$CAR enforced the rules on cheating, and found twenty cars with infractions deemed to be “cheating” and booted them from the race, or more than one race, —— would the fans be satisfied watching only 23 or 25 cars in the race?

It’s “entertainment” according to the Brian. Would fewer than 43 cars racing be “entertaining” to the fans (whom are transportation devices for a full wallet)?
And how “entertained” would the sponsors be if their car(s) got booted, eliminating any chance of making the chase for the tail?, ...uhhh, that is,.....errrr, ....I mean the chase for the championship.

Not to mention the adverse publicity that would likely shadow the sponsor’s product(s)/service(s).
Would those sponsors be back next season? How many sponsors are on the waiting list to shell out millions of dollars to be excluded by NA$CAR’s mystery rules book?

02/13/2007 11:43 AM

Before you start complaining that Knaus was treated unfairly – wait to see what the penalties are. Obviously kicking Knaus out did not affect the team (they still won a couple races including the 500) the money didn’t affect them – how does a $25000 fine affect people that are making millions.
What really affects the teams is points. Whether thay are contending for the championship or trying to stay in the top 35 to guarantee a spot in the next race – points are everything. Rigging the jacking bolt to change the shape of the rear window didn’t warrent points to a Hendrick team – lets see what happens to a Toyota team (which like Hendrick has thrown wads of cash at Brian France) or the other 2 teams. My guess is 55 will get no points penalties and the 9 and 17 will. Tell me who is a purist – it isn’t the NASCAR ‘officals’.

02/13/2007 01:57 PM

I agree that there shouldn’t be any difference who the crew chief is, if your caught cheating..well if it can be proved that that was the intent, that the team should pack it up and miss the race. I don’t care what team it would only take one team to get sent home to have others wake up and notice. I can only imagine the meetings that would take place after that with a team owner and the sponsor. I agree also with the point made of NASCAR being unable, or not wanting to police itself and actually enforce rules fairly across the board to all teams instead of the way they do it now which seems to involve a “Magic-8 Ball” to come up with the rule or fine of the moment.

02/13/2007 03:28 PM

Well, I guess that we now know who is in bed with Nascar. Mr Hendrick. Good ole cheatin’ Jimmy and Chad boy sure didn’t get docked any points did they? I have always said that Hendrick is basicly untouchable in the eyes of Nascar. He must have pictures of somebody sleeping with somebody. That’s all I can think of.

chanda Healton
02/13/2007 07:26 PM

They were also docked points though, something Johnson never got docked and should have. If a guy who cheats gets to then wins Daytona and the championship, then where is the justice in anything? They just want to be champions too!


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