The Frontstretch: NASCAR Mailbox: Fallout From Richmond Reduex Continues To Spill Over by Summer Bedgood -- Thursday September 19, 2013

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NASCAR Mailbox: Fallout From Richmond Reduex Continues To Spill Over

Summer Bedgood · Thursday September 19, 2013

 

We have a dilemma here, folks. It may just be the biggest one NASCAR fans have faced in a number of years. It’s tragic, in fact, and highly frustrating. This quandary we’re faced with is … what in the name of Richard Petty are we supposed to call the NASCAR Nationwide Series??

For those of you who haven’t heard, Nationwide Insurance is dropping its title sponsorship of that series, beginning in 2015 and are instead going to focus their efforts on Sprint Cup. Speculation has it that they will sponsor a driver there, though no official announcement has been made. (Note: They already back Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in the No. 17 Ford for a limited number of races).

Penske Racing and the other teams competing in the Nationwide Series will have to learn a new “name” for their division beginning in 2015.

So, the dilemma here remains… what are we supposed to call that series? If Sprint or Camping World ever dropped their sponsorship of their respective series, we could still call them the NASCAR Cup Series and the NASCAR Truck Series. It’s a pretty simple solution until we get another name in there!

But for the Nationwide Series… there is no name! There is no name without a sponsor. It’s just… there! Just sitting there without a name, like one of those stupid toys you would get in your McDonald’s kids’ meal that represented no species known to man. It’s just that thing.

Thankfully, Nationwide doesn’t drop its title sponsorship until the end of the season, so until then we can still call it the Nationwide Series. But after that, well, it will just be a sad little series until a pitiful old lady walks by and gives it several million dollars … I, I mean a name.

So, fare-thee-well, Nationwide… hopefully, you’ll have a new name soon. Although no matter who comes on board, I guess there will still be those old-timers who forever refer to it as the Busch Series.

At least it has a fallback! Now, on to your questions:

“Apparently lost in all this mess is the fact that despite lengthy discussion of restart rules in the Richmond drivers’ meeting, Edwards jumped the restart on the next-to-last restart, got away with it, and did it even worse a second time. NASCAR did nothing to penalize him, and the social media folks apparently don’t understand how huge this was and also did no complaining. The announcers were shocked that it happened and spoke of it on-air. Photo evidence was shown several times. And NASCAR said nothing except that Menard and Edwards had touched. What’s that got to do with the restart rule? How can anyone respect NASCAR when they choose which rule to enforce and which to ignore? This also affects the Chase, as well as Edwards (who should have been set down for his flagrant breaking of the clear rules). Why are you and your Frontstretch staffers letting this go?” Shirley

I don’t know how you’re saying we didn’t talk about it. I know for a fact we mentioned it in Mirror Driving last week and I can think of a few different writers who mentioned it.

The fact of the matter is, though, that the Michael Waltrip Racing scandal was much more pressing. It’s one thing for Carl Edwards to jump the restart and win the race by blatantly and unapologetically breaking a rule. It’s another for an entire race organization to conspire to manipulate the outcome of the race. Those are two hugely separate issues, and guess which one took priority not just at Frontstretch, but in literally every other NASCAR-related media outlet?

With that said, I do understand your point, this controversy was still a major concern. And unfortunately the only reason NASCAR addressed the issue at all is because people — media and fans alike — kept asking them about it.

Where I do agree with you, too, is that their explanation of the issue was bogus. It was basically a non-explanation and dancing around the issue more so than an actual one, which makes me all the more happier than they got rid of the “you can’t beat the leader to the line” rule. In my mind, if the leader doesn’t go, he doesn’t deserve to be the leader anymore. This is racing we’re talking about, and there is very little room for the competitors to start yelling, “That’s not fair!”

It’s also a small reason why I wasn’t as concerned about it. Edwards broke the rule, yes; I just thought it was a stupid rule to begin with. But to say we just “let it go” isn’t fair. It’s going on two weeks now and it’s time to let it go. What happened, happened and we need to move on for once.

Teammates have run side-by-side through the years… and they’ve also pulled over, on occasion to led each other lead a lap. Just not the last one… so what makes Richmond different?

“Teammates in NASCAR have been known for years to give up the lead to a team member to gain points for leading a race. How is that any different than the current controversy?” Harley

Can I ask all of YOU a question? Why are we still talking about this?!

Granted, some of these messages came in before the race at Chicagoland but, sheesh… I’m just ready to move on even though I still have several of these e-mails sitting in my inbox.

Anyway, Harley, that’s a really tough question to answer, but I’ll do my best. The difference between a driver pulling over and letting a teammate lead a lap and what MWR did was that the former is innately designed to benefit one person. The latter is designed to not only impact other teams but to have a direct effect on the outcome of a race.

Now, of course, everything that happens on track either directly or indirectly impacts a number of other drivers. That’s just the way racing works. But the Richmond incident was three teams with one agenda and it was successfully accomplished, albeit somewhat sloppily.

I know that neither action is very popular with fans, but one is much less impactful than the other.

*“Two entire race teams have been put on PROBATION??? What does that mean???
In all the years I have been watching NASCAR there have been many, many teams and drivers put on probation… SO WHAT!! Has there ever been anyone that has violated probation??? EVER??? This is nothing more than a symbolic move – BIG DEAL!! A mere slap on the wrist for cheating – trying to manipulate the outcome of a race, and more importantly trying to affect the standings in the Chase… I’m beginning to wonder if NASCAR races are fixed!!! The integrity of the sport has been compromised and the offenders are let off with a ‘Tsk, tsk, don’t do that again.’ Shame on you NASCAR!!”* Mike

Yes, it is a slap on the wrist but they had to do something after the MWR incident. Had MWR not happened, we probably wouldn’t have even noticed the Penske/Front Row incident and, honestly, we probably wouldn’t care that much either. That issue was one of “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” and it seemed to work out well for both teams involved.

But as far as “shame on NASCAR”, I don’t see what else they should have done. They had no reason to remove Logano from the Chase. He would have made it anyway and that one position really didn’t change anything.

I guess they could have fined them, but that team didn’t really break any rules. NASCAR had never set a precedent before saying that two teams couldn’t strike a deal to the benefit of both, and as far as they were concerned, each organization was working within the rules. You could make an issue about the morality of the deal, but NASCAR isn’t fun to watch for its moral baseline. So fining the two teams involved would have been punishing them for something that had never been explicitly stated to be wrong.

So, really, probation was the only real option. NASCAR tells the teams they don’t like what they did without any real impact. It’s basically a way of saying, “We don’t like what you did, but you didn’t break a rule, so just don’t do it again.”

The sanctioning body made sure to explicitly state that in their press conference on Saturday. Issue over?

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Doug from eastern NC
09/19/2013 11:13 AM
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I still call the Nationwide series the “Bush” series. I know it’s the Nationwide series but anybody i talk with that’s not really keeping up with what going on in Nascrap, only remembers it as the Bush series.

Doug from eastern NC
09/19/2013 11:17 AM
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Some others still call it the Grand National Series.

DoninAjax
09/19/2013 11:22 AM
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It’s the “Busch” series. (right, Kyle?) Forget the beer. It was “Breakfast in a can!” at 9 am at Daytona in 1977.

Carl D.
09/19/2013 11:25 AM
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It’s “Busch” series… not so much as in Anheiser and as in Kyle.

JP
09/19/2013 12:20 PM
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I think nascar will have to put down in writing, for the public to see, what exactly is manipulation in racing. Otherwise, fans will call foul. Fan will ALWAYS be looking out for that…ESPECIALLY now that Nascar has done what they’ve done in the last two weeks.

Throwing fake debris cautions is manipulation of the race. And we ALL know it to be true. And THAT is a Nascar decision….NOT any team or driver. So that makes Nascar guilty.

Nascar has brought this about, IMO. NOT MWR. The spotlight is on Nascar to fix this mess they’ve made.

Kevin in SoCal
09/19/2013 01:36 PM
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It never ceases to amaze me how two people can watch something happen and come up with three different versions of the results. Menard went, spun his tires, made contact with Edwards, and Edwards got ahead of Menard and restarted the race.

And it wasnt Logano that was removed, it was Truex, Jr.

Sully
09/19/2013 02:31 PM
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Nascar has wrought this mess 100%. You cannot take an accepted practice and all of sudden mid stream cry foul. But yuppers, thats what Nascar did at Richmond and the uninformed social media sheep, got their pitchforks and torches and they don’t even know really what they are actually getting on their high horse about. This is why Nascar would call a race final and thats it. Pandora’s Box is wide open, and it won’t be shut anytime soon.

Carol Bell
09/19/2013 03:38 PM
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It was originally called the “Sportman’s Division” and Cup was called the “Grand National Series”. They would save a ton on paint, signage and stationary if they would just return to original names,

Moparjeff
09/19/2013 04:06 PM
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I agree that MWR crossed an ethical line. However, in response to the final point that what Penske and Front Row did was basically acceptable and didn’t violate any rules – how exactly does pitting with 3 laps to go violate a rule? Spinning on purpose does violate a rule, but NASCAR maintains that they didn’t penalize MWR for that. So, with a nod to Tom’s article, we are left with explaining to the world that it’s cheating to make a pit stop if you don’t really need to make a pitstop and its cheating to drive slow when you are capable of driving fast. However, to start a race with no intention of finishing it – that’s not cheating. And to park a car that is fully capable of being raced – that’s not cheating either. Unless MWR does it – then it is cheating. I’m thankful that NASCAR is in the hands of such articulate and competent individuals, I shudder to think what might happen if NASCAR were less brilliant.

kb
09/19/2013 05:07 PM
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Nascar has wrought many a mess, this is one of them. Their reaction to the mob mentality was knee jerked and not without consequences. There is a reason the founding fathers of Nascar deemed a race final when it was done as do other sports. You cannot make a preceived wrong a right when truth be told non of us had a crystal ball to know with 100% certainty what would have happened if not for that caution.

Richard
09/19/2013 09:33 PM
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I am a bit confused. It was cheating for the 15 and 55 to pit when they didn’t need to, but it was OK for Lagano’s team to ask Gililand’s team to let them pass. If MWR was penalized then Penske and Gililand’s team should have been similarly penalized.

Richard
09/19/2013 09:36 PM
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It is NASCAR’s inconsistencies that keep confusing the drivers, and driving the fans away.

I just might have to go back to watching football.

Annie
09/20/2013 01:34 AM
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Richard, hopefully this can give you some perspective. This type of helping has been going on for years with all members of the racing community with Nascars blessing and approval. (Rewatch some old/recent programming) Somehow and it’s a twisted road how Nascar arrived at these bologna calls. A sane person watching the sport for what it has been for years can only assume it did NOT benefit Nascars favorite team/donor to the France family fortune, and then suddenly it is wrong! YOU can fill in the rest.