Fixing This Is Hard to Do

Cloud are hanging over the sport, though not to single out Jamie McMurray. (HHP/Harold Hinson photo for Chevrolet)

Clouds are hanging over the sport, though not to single out Jamie McMurray. (HHP/Harold Hinson photo for Chevrolet)

[cb_profit_poster sponsor1]Clinton, S.C., Monday, September 9, 2013, 9:45 a.m.

What’s NASCAR going to do? I haven’t a clue.

What makes it so hard to anticipate is that there are no parameters. Other sports have prescribed procedures. NASCAR has “actions detrimental to the sport of stock car racing.” That could be anything from picking one’s nose on TV to pistol-whipping a team-crew-car-chief-engineer-specialist person. (In the Old West, pistol-whipping was also known as “buffaloing.” Meanwhile, the modern definition would be that NASCAR seems completely “buffaloed” by what happened at Richmond.)

NASCAR has rules, but they can be irrelevant. The One True Rule is that imperial NASCAR can do whatever it wants, which makes anticipating its actions difficult. All bets are … always off.

I was checking this website’s statistics, and two people from Norway read yesterday’s blog, so perhaps, in fairness, I should provide some background information.

They had this big golf match at Bushwood, and Al Czervik hit this horrible tee shot that bounced off a tree or something, and hit his shoulder, and he claimed it was hurt, so he appointed Ty Webb to serve as a stand-in. Then Czervik walked up to Lou Loomis, who was officiating the match, rolled up a $20 and said, “Keep it fair.”

Never mind. My bad. That wasn’t NASCAR. It was the movie “Caddyshack.”

What happened during the closing laps of the Federated Auto Parts 400 was difficult to officiate. Where the outcome of a race – and the content of the Chase – is concerned, any call has to be made at the time, one would think, but one might be wrong because NASCAR is a dictatorship that attempts to be benevolent but isn’t above occasional acts of tyranny.

See Hamlin, Denny, and Keselowski, Brad.

Imagine yourself in the tower as the laps wound down. (Correspondence suggests that you do this quite often.) Clint Bowyer spins. Hmm. That looked a little odd. But no one’s got time for a full-fledged investigation.

Brian Pattie asked Bowyer if his arm was bothering him. Other than that, it’s like they were talking about some kinda inside joke.

Yeah, that’s what it was, all right, an inside joke, “inside” being a reference to the whole sport.

NASCAR fans hate “team orders.” They don’t want all the teams playing poker. They want the cops to raid their high-stakes game. NASCAR fans also don’t have millions hanging on whether or not they make the Chase. NASCAR fans are desperate because their favorite drivers may fail. Owners, crewmen, drivers, sponsors, website developers, image specialists, strength coaches and parts suppliers are all desperate because they may run out of business.

I’m not condoning cheating. I’m just saying that’s why it happens.

The business of NASCAR is mainly business. The Peach in Daytona Beach must always be in reach. Forget rain, Spain and the Plain. This ain’t no musical!

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s analysis of the Clint Bowyer spin helped open a Pandora's Box at Richmond. (Christa L. Thomas photo for Chevrolet)

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s analysis of the Clint Bowyer spin helped open a Pandora’s Box at Richmond. (Christa L. Thomas photo for Chevrolet)

The race got muddied. The Chase got cheapened. The sport got bruised.

NASCAR wishes the mess never got out. NASCAR wishes the hectic nature of the final laps obscured what was really going on. NASCAR wishes TV hadn’t talked to Dale Earnhardt Jr. NASCAR wishes TV didn’t run all those radio feeds.

In hindsight, that is.

That wealth of information can be a double-edged sword, which is something Nixon learned the hard way and yet few seem to have heeded his example. It used to be that the biggest problem with fans and media using scanners was the language. NASCAR would love to have nothing more weighty than F-bombs to deliberate upon right now.

What are they going to do? I haven’t a clue. I’ve just got a handy knack for rhyming.

I haven’t been at the track all year. I don’t get to chat with one of my go-to guys around the side of a transporter while the mob is pinning Jimmie Johnson to the entrance door. I’m growing distant. My hunches might not be as valid.

At this point, NASCAR officials aren’t likely to let bygones be bygones, but they can’t underscore the essential potential for corruption in the system by retroactively changing the outcome of the race and the income of the Chase.

I doubt we’re going to get one of those “y’all better not pull this crap again” warnings. They tried that before the race.

The biggest problem isn’t the misconduct. The biggest problem is the system.

Thanks for supporting my website and letting me know how you feel about what I write. You folks make me realize I’m not so all alone. If you actually like what I write in this blog, you’re bound to enjoy my novel, The Audacity of Dope, and you can order an autographed copy (or a T-shirt) by clicking on “merchandise.”

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About Monte

For 20 seasons, I mostly wrote about NASCAR. I'm still paying attention, but I'm spending more of my time these days writing novels and songs. I try to blog regularly on whatever happens to strike my fancy.
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26 Responses to Fixing This Is Hard to Do

  1. Aaron says:

    All valid points, Monte. Excellent Caddyshack reference as well, though every Caddyshack reference is a good one. Will you be at the Charlotte race?

  2. Tom Vill says:

    I enjoy your take on events – especially this one. The hardest part with NASCAR officiating is that there are gray areas and gray(er) areas. Nothing is ever black and white. Often teams are like dogs with a shock collar that wander into the invisible fence

    But fair competition is absolutely critical and a line they can’t allow to be crossed. They are going to have to come down hard on MWR as a deterrent to make sure no one gets too close to that line again. Dock all their cars enough points to take them out of the Championship and a hefty fine ought to get their attention.

    Thanks again for all of your work

  3. Bobi says:

    There’s a guy down in Clinton named Dutton,
    Whose columns are right on the button.
    His insights are fair.
    He’s a breath of fresh air.
    Too bad he is workin’ for nuttin’!

    Your fans can rhyme too, just not as well 😉

  4. larry says:

    Heck let Newman and Gordon in…..Chances are they will finish 8-10th anyway…It would make things a bit more interesting with Newman trying to win as a lame duck and it almost would be Gordons last hurrah……

  5. Monte says:

    Impressive. I appreciate you taking the time.

  6. Monte says:

    I don’t expect to be there, but one never knows.

  7. Josie says:

    Well I figure no matter what NASCAR does come Sunday there will be a lot of drivers on track with hot, sore, itchy arms…right in front of (or behind, beside, or on top of) the MWR cars.. I did find it a stroke of good luck for Childers…Waltrip benching him was I would guess to keep him out of the “loop” when discussing race “tactics” (wink wink) …it sure would’ve been awkward had he still been calling races at MWR Saturday night..then went to SHR next season!!

  8. Bill B says:

    I don’t think there is any way to make this right. I do believe everything that happened with the MWR teams in the last ten laps was deliberate. With that in mind I think that Bowyer should start the chase with a 25 point deficit (penalty).
    The thing is MWR could have just have easily had Vickers spin out on purpose which would have left both chase drivers (Bowyer and Truex) “clean”. One wonders why they didn’t have Vickers be the one that purposely brought out the caution. The point being there is no way to keep this happening again in the future and there is no way to police such shenanigans. All you will do is force teams to be more creative in how they pull it off.
    Get rid of the chase and you get rid of the problem. Same with double file restarts and jumping the start.

  9. Russ Edwards says:

    This has been escalating ever since multi car teams began, and as I recall we had a similar incident at RIR just a couple of years ago. The problem with making the rules so vague that you give yourself wriggle room is that other people will take advantage.

    Can you imagine the NFL being in a similar situation? If not ask the coach of the Patriots. Dont think anyone will be filming anybody elses practices for a while.

  10. Matt Taliaferro says:

    So in your NASCAR/Caddyshack metaphor, would Brian Vickers be Spalding? Or maybe Bowyer? Not sure why that strikes me as it does, except that they seem to be guys that were “volunteered” into service by Judge Schmales (who is played by Mikey? Or Ty Norris? Or Pattie? … Boy this could get complicated). Now I’ll be thinking about it all afternoon.

    Good read as always, Monte.

  11. Tyler Buck Fever says:

    There are days when I read something that makes me never want to put pen to paper again. That was the most cleverly written dittie I dun ever seen. Monte the sport is at a total loss without you behind the hauler. I love you man.

    Buck Fever

  12. Ann says:

    Thanks for a good article. Manipulation, overt and subtle have been going on in this sport for a long time. As a fan with the mysterious debris cautions, especially at the end of race clearly sends a signal to the fan that Nascar doesn’t want so and so driver to win. HMS has been a silent benefactor more than anyone, fans notice. I”m sure the level of outrage is for Gordon “being denied”. Gordon isn’t denied anything, he should have shown up for the first 25 races. Nobody screamed this loud last year when Gordon overtly manipulated a race, being black flagged during a race and crashing into Bowyer, screwing up other drivers. He was unrepentant. Jeff’s fans say “Bowyer had it coming”. LOL. The Chase is the problem with this for points so you can get your sponsor on TV during The Chase..big $$$$ at stake..oh heck…I say who is in deserves it. Newman or Gordon’s stats tell the story, they were/are not Chase material. And as for saying Newman was robbed a win…I say,how do we know? We don’t.

  13. Mike says:

    Billy France would take Logano and Truex out of the Chase and put in Newman and Gordon. Let the finish of the race stand and put Bowyer 12th in the Chase seedings. That would get their attention and live up to the whole ‘the fans need to know who won when they leave’ dictum.

  14. Mike Yoder says:

    A Benevolent Dictator would take Logano and Truex out of the Chase and put in Newman and Gordon. Let the finish of the race stand and put Bowyer 12th in the Chase seedings. That would get their attention and live up to the whole ‘the fans need to know who won when they leave’ dictum.

  15. Carol Dahlberg says:

    I am always disappointed when I see people I respect indulge in unethical behaviors. I’ve been a fan of Brian Vickers since he moved up to the Busch series and his choice last night to go in to the pits because as Ty Norris said, “We need that point,” means he chose the unethical path rather than possibly lose his job. Shame on him.

    I doubt that NASCAR will take any action. They will mealy-mouth their way out of this situation. “Not enough evidence,”will be their excuse.

    Dave Despain suggested on Race Hub this afternoon that they should take 450 points from Bowyer, making it impossible for him to win the Championship. I like that idea, though it does no good for the teams cheated out of their chance at a championship.

    I also love the references to Caddyshack!

  16. Lydia says:

    Well most seem to say they can’t put Newman and Gordon in the Chase…but I don’t see a reason why they can’t disqualify Bowyer and Truex from being in The Chase ! Even taking 450 points away isn’t enough as Dave Despain suggested…they still stand to rake in a nice stash of $$$$. I guess they’re not concerned about what their peers think or they would not have gone along with the “alleged” scam (heaven forbid MWR sues me!) in the first place! Maybe we should get together a pool..what lap and by whom will Bowyer get taken out…the next ten races!! Could be fun!

  17. tiamatsrevenge says:

    Gaming the system has been going on since Day One of the first year of the Chase … and they used to issue the warning that they’d take action against anyone caught trying to game the system & alter the outcome of the race(s) to benefit a driver to get into the Chase … Well, they never did anything … Hence, “why” it escalated so much on Saturday …

    So, because MWR could NOT play by the rules … and gamed the system big time … We’re stuck with two cheaters in the Chase and a guy that should’ve been parked after Fontana for wrecking & breaking the back of a ex-teammate/fellow competitor …

    I’ve given up on Cup this year … and won’t watch any of the races except Talladega …

    I’m just wondering “where” the outrage over rigged races is in regards to the convenient wreck/spins/caution of the # 4 and # 33 trucks towards the end of the Truck race on Sunday … Burton & B. Jones were teammates and they gave the win to another teammate, Buescher … The # 31 of Buescher would NEVER have won the race if it were NOT for the convenient caution that his teammates brought out … The #19 of Ross Chastain got screwed out of the win …

  18. Dave J. says:

    Any sponsor implications from this mess? No fine, upstanding, community-minded, above board, image-conscious, square house company will want to be associated with flagrant cheaters (just the regular sneaky, under-the-radar cheats perhaps) and unsportsmanlike sportsmen. Don’t they only associate with Christian, honest, white bread, middle ‘Murca type teams and drivers? Or can they find a way to market it? I’ll be impressed if they do.

  19. excellent column as always, one tiny, correction though, it was Danny Noonan going in for Al Czervick, after he ” broke his arm”, sorry, real fussy, almost anal, about Caddyshack references, wish the hole that Nascar, and MVR have dug could be easily filled in, as Judge Smales said ” I demand SATISFACTION!”, just don’t know what that is.

  20. Andy DeNardi says:

    The Japanese put a higher priority on honor and bringing disgrace to your employer. I believe that there will be further repercussions from Toyota and Michael Waltrip Racing will look different when they show up at the Daytona 500 next February.

  21. my prediction “it ain’t over yet” there are more worms than the volume of this can…. 🙂

  22. Glen Harness says:

    From what I can tell, NASCAR didn’t have enough evidence to say that Bowyer spun intentionally (and from the in-car cameras it doesn’t look like he did). As far as Vickers pitting so Truex could get another point, so what? Does no one remember Richard Childress putting Neil Bonnet in a car to guarantee that Dale Earnhardt wouldn’t finish last? It’s the same thing.

  23. Judy B says:

    In Vickers’ defense, it did seem by his radio transmissions that he was clueless as to what was going on & that even as he was coming down pit road he wasn’t sure whether or not he had a tire going down or something. Bowyer, on the other hand, seemed to revel in his role…until he realized pretty much EVERYONE was po’ed at his antics. JMO of course.

  24. Judy B says:

    Between the tv replays, Jr’s comments and, most damning, Bowyer’s radio transmissions, I’m pretty sure Helen Keller could have made the right call.

  25. Judy B says:

    IMHO: Newman in, good. Truex out, not quite sure. Gordon out, not good. Bowyer in, absolutely 100% without-a-doubt horrid.

    The only real upside to this whole debacle? Zillions of folks finally seeing the farce the chase (lower case intended) really is.

  26. Tony Geinzer says:

    Monte, I grew up in a time where cheating was a skill and worse, some kids cheated their way into the Ivys or Virginia and washed home at Christmas with no clue. A lot of Oklahoma State’s issues is a pack of disgruntled ex-employees.

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