The Frontstretch: Conspiracy Theories: Nobody's Fault But NASCAR's by Tommy Thompson -- Thursday July 30, 2009

Go to site navigation Go to article

Conspiracy Theories: Nobody's Fault But NASCAR's

Thompson In Turn 5 · Tommy Thompson · Thursday July 30, 2009


Conspiracy theorists took little time in pouncing on NASCAR’s credibility this week following the lap 127 pass-through penalty of Juan Pablo Montoya for driving too fast on pit lane. Keep in mind there is no real incentive for the sport to intentionally interfere with Montoya’s dominating performance, nor is there a shred of evidence that would support an argument the sanctioning body conspired to severely handicap the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates driver’s chances of winning at Indianapolis.

That did little to temper the accusations of fans, however.

Of course, it’s important to note Montoya himself contributed to the controversy by his adamant refusal to accept NASCAR’s ruling. As soon as it was handed down, he immediately suggested that something was amiss in the series scoring tower to boot. “If they do this to me, I’m going to kill them,” Montoya said on his radio while transiting pit road at highway speed. “There’s no way. I was on the green [dash light].”

Then, to add emphasis to the extent at which Montoya believed in his innocence, the fiery chauffeur of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet took it to a whole different level. “Thank you, NASCAR, for screwing my day,” he said. “We had it in the bag, and they screwed us because I was not speeding. I swear on my children and my wife.”
After that affirmation of his certainty that it was NASCAR and not he that had made the error, who wouldn’t at least consider the possibility that the sport, for whatever reason, was wrong?

Following the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, won by Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson, post-race talk shows, internet message boards, and no doubt living rooms across America were discussing what had transpired with less than three dozen laps remaining in one of the most prestigious races in the Sprint Cup Series. Among those offering opinion, more than a few believed that Montoya had been the victim of a dastardly scheme to be robbed of his first oval-track Sprint Cup win.

Of course, Montoya and those that believed NASCAR engaged in anything less than an above-board decision to penalize him are wrong. There is ample physical proof in the way of computer readouts to verify that he, in fact, had sped through at least two timing loops coming down pit lane. The timing equipments’ accuracy is also not suspected by any of the principles involved — Montoya, Ganassi, or Felix Sabates — to be inaccurate, an opinion that in itself seemingly renders the controversy a mute point. In fact, after a Sunday evening phone conversation with NASCAR CEO and Chairman Brian France, Sabates shortly thereafter told XM’s Dialed In audience that he believed the team would find that their tachometer calibrations were off.

NASCAR President Mike Helton better be prepared for a mouthful from opinionated Juan Pablo Montoya at Pocono — right or wrong — after blowing a shot at an Indy win by getting caught speeding down pit road.

Like a murder mystery, a good conspiracy theory needs a motive. Try as one might, it is almost impossible to make any kind of argument that holds water for NASCAR wanting to engage in any shenanigans designed to rob Montoya of the win. Had the penalty not interfered, the outcome would have been good print for the racing series, making history with the first ever open-wheel and stock car winner at Indy. Certainly, there would be much more print and broadcast coverage from it than yet another win by the dominant Hendrick Motorsports team… and in particular Johnson, who not only has taken the last three Sprint Cup Championships but is a frequent visitor to Victory Lane.

Then, of course, there are those that believe that Hendrick Motorsports and more specifically Rick Hendrick somehow has NASCAR in his hip pocket — even to the extent that they would “fix” a race for him. It’s a whole other conspiracy theory that has had a long shelf life, but does not stand up well when thoughtfully considered. How could it possibly be in NASCAR’s best interest to favor a team or driver to the extent that they win at a disproportionate rate and dominate championships?

No, it is in the sanctioning body’s best interest to have as many different teams, drivers, and manufacturers in Victory Lane as possible. A level playing field and close competition is what best sells the sport… and NASCAR is fully aware of that fact.

Then, of course, the oldest motive of all for tomfoolery is from time to time thrown NASCAR’s way. Money! People claim Rick Hendrick pays off NASCAR for favorable treatment in order to see his cars routinely visit Victory Lane. Well, one must ask themselves just how much money it would cost the successful car dealer to buy NASCAR. One would think a lot more cabbage than Rick Hendrick can find under his seat cushions, right? Besides, if NASCAR was for sale, are there not other wealthy owners that would get wind of it? For instance, Roger Penske, a team owner that has the financial wherewithal to purchase a whole automotive brand [Saturn] among his many profitable enterprises might be a little ticked, taking his ball and bat and going home if he were to find out that NASCAR was up for bid and he hadn’t even been notified.

So, then, what is the motivation for these folks that entertain such crazy notions concerning NASCAR? The answer is simple: NASCAR itself!

Few things in life are beyond reproach… but this sport certainly isn’t one of them. Stock car racing’s number one organization seems, by design, to operate in gray areas as opposed to black and white. Whether it is in the awarding of race dates to tracks, drug policies, the even-handed levying of fines and penalties, or, most blatantly, “phantom” debris on the track, the sport seems to work with a subjective and not objective tone. They wave cautions that clearly are intended to bunch the race field up and provide for the more desired and entertaining close-quarters racing. Not coincidentally, these “entertainment” cautions that are all-too-often used near the conclusion of events give the appearance that the organization is not above fabricating dramatic finishes.

Since we’ve brought it up, there is also little doubt out there that NASCAR is willing to tinker with race finishes. Fans, team owners, crew chiefs, and drivers are resigned to the opinion that NASCAR will throw a caution flag should the racing become stale. In fact, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., the sport’s most popular personality, expressed surprise during a nationally broadcast interview that NASCAR hadn’t thrown a debris caution in the middle parts of the race at the Brickyard. At one time, Montoya had built a lead of more than four seconds and turned the race into a real snoozer of an event.

Despite that past history, though, there’s no doubt the conspiracy theorists are off base on this one with their belief that Juan Pablo Montoya was robbed of a win by NASCAR. Those that are of the opinion that the race was rigged to give Jimmie Johnson and/or Rick Hendrick a victory are likewise wrong. But can they be faulted for being suspicious?

Certainly not!

As long as stock car’s top organization continues to operate without complete transparency and without clearly defined rules and regulations, they will continue to suffer from a lack of credibility in every one of these instances. It’s a credibility that, for them, can only be won back by operating in every aspect of the sport with honesty and integrity … nothing more, nothing less.

And … that’s my view from Turn 5.

Contact Tommy Thompson

The Frontstretch Newsletter, back in 2014 gives you more of the daily news, commentary, and racing features from your favorite writers you know and love. Don’t waste another minute – click here to sign up now. We’re here to make sure you stay informed … so make sure you jump on for the ride!

Today on the Frontstretch:
Swan Racing Announces Restructuring, No. 26 & No. 30 ‘Sold’ Off
Tech Talk with Tony Gibson: Taking Stock Of Danica Patrick In Year Two
Vexing Vito: Three Drivers In Need of a Role Reversal
Going By the Numbers: Top-10 NASCAR Variety Hard To Come By In…
Truckin’ Thursdays: Lessons Learned Just Two Races In
Fantasy Insider: Team Revelations For NASCAR’s Short Tracks



©2000 - 2008 Tommy Thompson and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

07/30/2009 07:58 AM

NASCAR will never have any transparency until, somehow, Brian France is booted out! But since he has full control and cannot be stopped, nothing will happen until the stands are completely empty on raceday, the souvenir trailers have $0 sales, the TV ratings are so low that the networks finally demand back all the fees they paid and bail, and NASCAR is forced to file bankruptcy to survive, which could happen by mid-season of 2010 they way Brian’s “show” is going! And it will look so good on Brian!

Hey Mr. France, how does that egg all over your face taste!

Ghost of Curtis Turner
07/30/2009 09:10 AM

Ken, Well said! things won’t change as long a the court jester Brian F. is in charge……
Nascar just plain sucks any more, no reason to watch, no reason to care, fake finishes, fake cautions, fake action, fake, fake, fake, fraud, made up, scripted, (insert your own adjective here)etc…… things won’t change untill the money has all but gone out of the sport. Sorry I should not use the term sport, because it’s not a sport any more. Nascar has become just a made up TV show now. But, once all the big money is gone and the jester has retired and taken his can of coke to some south sea island where there are no trees for him to run into, then maybe racing will return to nascar…. but it doesn’t look good.
Man, one could only speculate “what if” if Big Bill was alive to see the mess his grandson has wrought on the public……
Peace out,

07/30/2009 09:18 AM


don mei
07/30/2009 11:15 AM

“Honest Nascar” is an oxymoron while Brian is just a moron.

07/30/2009 12:51 PM

Why do you guys keep watching and reading about NASCAR if you dislike it so much? I don’t get it. Leave the rest of us alone that still enjoy the sport. We certainly aren’t going to agree with everything being done and never will, even if Brian France took a hike. Regardless of the parts I don’t like, I still turn on the television and enjoy the race. Can it be better? Certainly it could and it is the same as other sports as well. Either you like it or you don’t.

07/30/2009 01:09 PM

Hey Scott D Gibb Sr.!


Hell, Jr. is SO BAD! He NEVER, EVER has been even in the position to be GIVEN A RACE” by NA$CRAP! (which of course NA$CRAP would do given the opportunity).

BUT! Please remember a few years ago when NA$CRAP REALLY and TRULY GAVE a win to Jr. at Talladega!

Credibility, or the complete lack of, on the part of NA$CRAP has been well earned under the tutelage of one Brian Farce!

And for “Bill”! We cannot give up on a sport that once was very exciting and entertaining! We know just how great this sport could be, and refuse to be driven away by Brian Farce and his henchmen! I personally have over 40 years of watching racing under my belt, a lot of money invested only to see Brian Farce come along and ruin the whole thing!

Why should I, or we, simply go away?

If anyone goes away, let it be King Brian! I will fight to the bitter end!

And, are you then proud of the attendance, or lack thereof at all the “races” this year? We, the dissapointed number MANY!

And if you think what you see on the track today is REAL & HONEST RACING, you got another think coming!

Oh, by the way, do you buy tickets and actually go to races?


Right now our money is staying in our collective pockets! Why pay to see a farce???


07/30/2009 02:30 PM

No doubt he was speeding. But are the infractions enforced equally? That seems to be the question. Lets see a time sheet for all drivers.

Richard in N.C.
07/30/2009 02:52 PM

I’ll worry when NASCAR’s credibility fals below that of the media.

07/30/2009 04:13 PM

And maybe we should not call it “a conspiracy theory”!

It should be called the “STUPIDITY FACTOR”, STUPIDITY as on the part of NA$CRAP!

They, NA$CRAP are the ones with the impossible rules to follow, such as “speeding on pit road”, “pits open?” “or closed”, the “yellow line” philosophy! Or is that the “white line” philosophy?

Which “scoring loop” do they choose to use when determing positions? What constitutes “debris”?

What constitutes “I was forced below the yellow line”?

What makes an engine “.17cc” out of spec? What makes an “incomplete” list of banned drugs OFFICIAL?

What makes one car “1/4 out” of spec illegal? While another gets no penalty!


What makes NA$CRAP think the CoT is a “race car”?

What makes NA$CRAP say and cry “SAFETY”, yet launch cars into the stands at every Talladega race?

What makes NA$CRAP cry “SAFETY”, when they wad them up a dozen at a time at Talladega?

Only “STUPIDITY” can describe the real inner workings of NA$CRAP!

Hell, they would have to be smart to come up with a “conspiracy theory”, and we ALL KNOW NA$CRAP IS NOT SMART!

They prove that week in, week out!

And did you see the lip syncing going on while Mike Helton was trying to keep his lips moving in sequence with King Brian’s? Of course he is good at it, he gets lots of practice!

Contact Tommy Thompson