The news we have all been waiting for finally broke on Wednesday in regards to the Tony Stewart / Kevin Ward, Jr. story. With the investigation complete, Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo has decided to present the case to a grand jury, despite the fact that those handling the investigation had previously said that they saw no evidence that led them to believe there was any criminal intent on Stewart’s part.
Tantillo would not say when the case would be presented, only giving a time frame of “soon.” Whether or not it will impact Stewart’s season I don’t know, but I am starting to become convinced of one thing: this move might have been more political rather than necessary.
To anyone outside the sport or to someone only casually interested, the cry for “justice” has been nauseatingly high. They see the death of Ward as criminal negligence by Stewart at best, vehicular manslaughter at worst. To the outside world, anything short of a prison sentence would show a lack of law enforcement and the courts will be accused of playing favorites because of Stewart’s fame.
On the other hand are those who closely follow the sport and know that Stewart would never try to harm another driver, and many even see the blame lying with Ward. Why run out onto the racetrack with a dark firesuit, on a dark racetrack, with dirt flying all around? If Stewart was convicted of a crime, there would be outrage from the racing community and the courts would be accused of knowing nothing of racing or of Stewart’s character, a lack of insight by those in authority.
So how do they make such a tough decision when no answer would be the right one? Well, send it to a jury, of course. That absolves them of any blame while still allowing the justice system to go through a structured process. That way, any decision reached is not theirs but that of, well, a representation of the people. There will still be outrage, but it won’t be directed at Tantillo, Sheriff Philip Povero, or anyone else involved in the case. No, the outrage will be towards those who either do or don’t believe that there is enough evidence to take this case to trial.
Now, of course, I haven’t seen the same evidence that Ontario County has. Perhaps they have a very good reason for taking this case to a grand jury based on some video or photos they have gathered. I’m not even saying it’s the wrong call. But I can’t help but think this move isn’t so much of a necessity as it is to take the weight of this decision off of their shoulders.
Now onto the mailbox:
“This might be an obvious question by why is Ambrose leaving NASCAR? I mean, I know he’s not the best driver or anything, but he could still get some good finishes and win a few races.” Tyler
To hear Marcos Ambrose tell it, this move is about career and family. When pressed on the matter last Saturday, Ambrose responded by saying “I think it is a great time to move back home to Australia with my family.”
He also happened to say that “This is really a racing choice for me” but clearly there is more to it than that. Just inferring from his comments, it appears that Ambrose might be a little homesick, wants to be around any family back in Australia, but still kind of wants to keep his foot in the door in stock car racing.
How did I come up with this last point? Ambrose is returning to V8 Supercar racing with … Roger Penske.
That’s right. The Australian driver is returning to a racing series in which he was highly successful before making the move to NASCAR, with a team owner who has been and continues to be successful in the Sprint Cup Series. Penske is partnering with Dick Johnson Racing, a very successful and historically significant Australian motor racing team.
What I think it means is that Ambrose might be interested in running a few stock car races in the future, just not full time. He may very well go from being a series regular to a road ringer, one of the drivers you don’t see much of until a road course comes up on the schedule.
We’ve seen it to an extent with Juan Pablo Montoya, the driver who jumped from open wheel to NASCAR and back to open wheel. Montoya’s strengths were also road courses and, though neither race that he’s competed in this season was a road course (Michigan and Indianapolis), his continuing ties to a NASCAR team, while competing in the Verizon IndyCar Series, allows him to go back and forth between the series as time and sponsorship allows.
Simply put, I don’t think Homestead 2014 will be the last time we see Ambrose at a NASCAR race. We will probably just see him much less often.
“Why wasn’t Keselowski penalized for the flared right side yesterday? That’s an advantage! And obviously it’s illegal or every team would do it!” Megan
Are you a Dale Jr. fan?
I hate to take the easy way out on this one … ok I don’t. Seriously, if NASCAR didn’t see a problem with it—and they obviously didn’t since the No. 2 passed post-race inspection and as of press time have received no penalties from NASCAR R&D—then why is this such a problem? As much emphasis as NASCAR has put on the excitement level of the Chase, I have a hard time believing that they are turning a blind eye to a competitor bending (skirting?) the rules and holding an advantage over the other competitors. After all, haven’t they been doing everything they can to stop Jimmie Johnson from doing just that by changing the Chase rules every year or so? (I had the chance—I took it.)
I also feel like competitors other than Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s manager and a few spotters would be raising a bigger stink about this if it were such a big deal. To me, that reads as though Paul Wolfe gave a reasonable explanation as to why the skirts were flared in the first place and maybe it’s not such a big controversy after all.
Now, I’m also not naive. It’s possible that Brad Keselowski did incur that sort of “damage” while racing on the track and the team just “happened” not to notice, and the effects of the aerodynamics could have played a role in Keselowski winning the race. However, I can’t seriously refer to such a move as “cheating” when they didn’t technically break any rules. Name any team out there that hasn’t pulled something similar and I’ll show you the entrance to Narnia.
Also, if flared skirts that wins anyone the championship this year, I’m going to be shocked. Something so simple is going to mean so very little come Homestead.
“So is Almirola officially eliminated from the Chase now? Or what? Like what if he wins this weekend? Unlikely, I know, but did the engine issues officially knock him out?” Crysta
No, Aric Almirola is not officially eliminated but it will be extremely difficult for him to move on to the next round now. Anything short of a victory will likely mean elimination for him. If it had happened to someone like Kevin Harvick or Jeff Gordon, I would say they have a reasonable chance at rebounding and moving on to the next round if they run will enough at New Hampshire or Dover. But Almirola? He only snuck in with that win at Daytona. I know he was running extremely well at Chicago when he had engine troubles, but he’s going to have to carry that momentum into the next two races to climb out from under the bottom of the Chase pile. I just don’t see that happening.
Now, if he proves us all wrong (as he was doing so well at Chicago) and goes on to win one of the next two races, he most certainly will advance. There is nothing
stopping him from doing that. But even if he finishes in the top 10 or top 5 at both of those races, it is going to be difficult for him to climb out of the bottom four. Right now, Almirola is 23 points behind 12th place Carl Edwards, the position he needs to aim for if he is going to move on to the next round. That’s a tall order for Almirola to beat a driver like Edwards, even though he’s having an off year. Plus, he’ll have to leap frog Greg Biffle, AJ Allmendinger, and Ryan Newman. Does he have it in him?
His performance last week had me convinced he might be able to last longer than I originally gave him credit for. Realistically, that engine issue dashed his Chase hopes before they really even took off.
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