Tuesday, June 26, 2007

There's no gray matter in cheating

How much better could racing be if nobody had ever said the phrase "if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying?"

Seriously. Instead of spending all that time and energy working on ways to defeat the rule book, what would the sport have been like if guys had spent nearly 60 years working every bit as hard to make their cars better within the rules?

I absolutely reject the notion that enforcing rules takes away the opportunity for racers to be "innovative" or "creative." The fact is, of course, that thousands of mechanics over the history of stock car racing have made immeasurable contributions toward making race cars better without getting up every morning trying to figure out how to "beat" NASCAR.

Yet the "cheating" mentality permeates the sport. I think it pollutes it, in fact. Integrity is not a valued commodity among racers, it seems, as least not as highly as I believe it should be.

You’ve got people looking at the rule book and deciding that if something isn’t prohibited, by actual word printed in that book, it’s legal. This "gray area" is where they try to make a living, but what it shows me is a lack of "gray matter" in their brains.

Here are the salient portions of the rule governing penalties against Hendrick Motorsports at Infineon Raceway:

Rule 20-2.1
The car body must be acceptable to NASCAR officials and meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Streamlining of the contours of the car, beyond that approved by the Series Director, will not be permitted.
  • If, in the judgment of NASCAR Officials, any part or component of the car not previously approved by NASCAR that has been installed or modified to enhance aerodynamic performance, will not be permitted. All cars must remain standard in appearance.
  • Fenders may not be cut or altered except for wheel or tire clearance, which must be approved by the Series Director.
OK, where’s the "gray" there?
ANY part not PREVIOUSLY approved by NASCAR that has been INSTALLED OR MODIFIED to ENHANCE AERODYNAMIC PERFORMANCE is not allowed.

Why would flared out fenders between templates not be covered by that? The team itself said they were trying to get more downforce. Isn’t that "enhance aerodynamic performance" on the face of it? It wasn’t done for wheel or tire clearance and it wasn’t approved.

So don’t tell me it’s not in the rule book. Right there it is.

35 comments:

Dan from Lebanon IN said...

It was a simple mistake. They had those fenders laying around the shop for testing and accidentally put them on the car. It was a similar mistake Junior's team made with the brackets. Oh sure the mistake did help the car, but that is only a coincidence.

As far as Waltrip's issue at Daytona, that was an unintentional mistake too. They had jet fuel laying around for their jet to take them back to Charlotte. That fuel accidentally got mixed up with the Sunoco fuel for the car. This innocent mistake could of happend to any team. Oh, it is only a coincidence that the fuel would have made his car faster.

The issues at Daytona with Evernham and Kenseth were mistakes too that were not intended to make the car better.

Seriously, they all were cheating and should have been sent home!

jeff said...

Did the cars fit the the templates? Yes they did. Maybe NASCAR needs to get the gray matter out of their collective brain and we won't have body issues. Just because "they didn't like it" leads me to believe they don't like being showed up. It's the 21st century, time to get rid of their out-dated inspection process.

Butch said...

I'd like to know if the teams have an opportunity to have NASCAR look at a car before it comes to the track and asses the legality of the chassis or body or is the pre-qualifying inspection the only chance for this to occur. Also it seems that I remember past incidences of cars failing inspection, teams making changes, going thru inspection again and everything is hunky-dory. I particularly remember Earnhardt Sr.'s crew having to do a bunch of bondo work prior to one of the plate races. I have seen many teams pull the front fenders out during pit stops, so shouldn't this be illegal, too? I agree that trying to bend the rules to gain an advantage is wrong but it seems that if the problem is caught and corrected prior to the car ever getting on the track then the system is working as it should. Perhaps NASCAR should issue stock or spec fenders to the teams.

Anonymous said...

Kevin says...

Bottom Line is "The cars met all the templates" and THE CLAW is a pretty impressive piece. We're talking about an inch or less on flaring a fender out. I'm glad Gordon will be retiring in a few yrs. b/c NASCAR is only a few steps away from follow the leader Formula One. The sanctioning body should just produce its own fleet of each manufacturer and lease them out to the teams each weekend allowing them only to install engines, shocks, gears, & springs. This is beyond ridiculous. You wonder why "Hendrick" is dominating. Because they put serious work in staying ahead of the competition...look back to Dover 2yrs ago with the shock package and the "T-REX" car they dominated the Winston with and were told not to bring it back. I've got one final solution: Nascar should hire the engineers and personnell away from Hendrick to run their inspection process.

Anonymous said...

While I somewhat agree with Poole on the black and whiteness of the rule book, I still wonder if in this case they were actually cheating? Does a offensive lineman cause a penalty for holding BEFORE he goes on the field? If a NBA player carries the ball without dribbling while still on the sideline get a penalty? Tell me if Im wrong, but the car never actually went out on the track, so even if the intent was there....the act or offense never happened. Worse case scenario, they were planning on it, but got caught, never did it, fixed it and made it right, THEN got on the track. I think where me and poole disagree the most is....Nascar is a huge snowball heading for IROC hell. Not to use the "creativity" word, but when you tell teams there can be ZERO tolerances on this car body, why dont they do what this is supposed to be doing in the first place (save teams money) and just provide all the car bodies to each team?

Anonymous said...

While I somewhat agree with Poole on the black and whiteness of the rule book, I still wonder if in this case they were actually cheating? Does a offensive lineman cause a penalty for holding BEFORE he goes on the field? If a NBA player carries the ball without dribbling while still on the sideline get a penalty? Tell me if Im wrong, but the car never actually went out on the track, so even if the intent was there....the act or offense never happened. Worse case scenario, they were planning on it, but got caught, never did it, fixed it and made it right, THEN got on the track. I think where me and poole disagree the most is....Nascar is a huge snowball heading for IROC hell. Not to use the "creativity" word, but when you tell teams there can be ZERO tolerances on this car body, why dont they do what this is supposed to be doing in the first place (save teams money) and just provide all the car bodies to each team?

Joe Dalhart said...

I agree with "anonymous." If the Hendrick cars were "found out" during pre-race inspection, why weren't they just required to fix their discrepancies before being allowed to race? I can see punishing them if they were busted in post-race inspection, but this seems ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

It just goes to show how screwed up NASCAR's priorities are when a fender bulge gets a more serious penalty than endangering pit crew members' lives.

There was no suspension involved in Kurt's assault on Tony's guy and the Hendrick cars DID fit the templates.

The Commish said...

Reverend Poole sendeth condemnation unto the adventurous, but lo, what if the fenders had been flared on a go-or-go-homer's car? Or on Kasey Kahne's car? Playing in those gray areas is often the only way a team in the back can keep up with the megaliths like HMS and RCR. Now NASCAR is saying, the only place you can fix the car is underneath, so go spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on setup plates and seven-post rigs and shock development and computer simulation--the kinds of innovation only the wealthy teams can afford. By taking Bondo out of the equation on the COT, NASCAR is inadvertently hurting the teams it thinks it is protecting.

And BTW, thanks for quoting the rule book. If you do that often enough, maybe we fans can cut and paste together one for ourselves, since NASCAR won't let us see it otherwise. But there's no penalty for hiding the rules from the fans, is there?

Anonymous said...

Let me start out by saying that I am not a Hendrick fan in the least, but this penalty is a little ridiculous. (As was the penalty to Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s team at Darlington) Both Gordon and Johnson' cars fit the template that NASCAR has each car pass through weekly. To me that is point blank. Dale Earnhardt Jr. passed inspection at Darlington, but later NASCAR did not like the look of the brackets. It is just insane. If NASCAR wants to be like IROC then they need to pull 49 cars up and down the road each week and tell the teams to bring their logos. Boy, wouldn't that be exciting David Poole....?

And I have to disagree a little with you on the black and white nature of the rule book. "All cars must remain standard in appearance." So I took that line from one of the rule infractions you listed in your blog. If that is not a "grey" statement, I don't know what is. That means nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I just think that NASCAR is being a little stiff right now. We should not forget that the COT has only run somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 races, EVER! They do not have a defined set of do's and dont's for this car...so they are just lowering the hammer. In my mind, they are unrealistic in the aims...now there is another "grey" statement for you, Poole!

Anonymous said...

The moment each race hauler pulls into the track and is assigned their parking and pit stall, the team is "on the playing field". The pre-race inspection is part of the game. The teams tried to cheat and got caught, it is that simple.

BruSimm said...

First: It's awesome to see the penalty compared directly to the much referenced, but little seen rulebook of NASCAR. Thank you David.

In the context of the matter, with the fenders flared outside the tolerances you mentioned this morning, then obviously, they were hoping they'd get by with this gray area tinkering, but the text does say no aero adjustments.

I don't buy the premise of a test fender being put on accidentally. These guys, being the seasoned professionals, knew what they were doing.

As far as the penalty goes, it is consistent. It's these teams first COT penalty, and hence, treated the same as Jr.'s fiasco. Excessive? That's why I don't think it was escalated.. this time. It seems excessive, but the message is being delivered unto the minions of the sport. Is it not?

Race on boys!

Paul B said...

Arggghhh. Excuses, whining and complaining. NASCAR fans have become the biggest bunch of suckups I know. So many think their driver is Jesus's little brother and can't, won't and didn't do anything wrong. If teams cheat, send their A$$ home. Knaus should be out for a year. He has BLATANLY tried to cheat, like the extra part at Daytona last year.
Too many years of stories from Harry Hyde and Junior Johnson has created the mentality of "wink and nod" over cheating. Time for NASCAR to grow up and be a BIG BOY Sport and clean it up.

Monkeesfan said...

dan from lebanon, you had me for a few seconds there - I was going to rip your posting until I read the punchline. Very clever.

The commish partly hits on the upshot here, but there's more - the biggest teams are going to aero-rake these cars and little by little are going to beat the "Claw" supertemplate - they're too far ahead of NASCAR in the technology race not to win out in this battle.

If NASCAR really wants to improve the racing, they have simple bolt-on aero-drag pieces that will do the trick - the COT was never needed in that regard. As far as punishing cheating goes, the only deterrent is multirace disqualification.

Anonymous said...

Wow! David Poole finally put down that stack of pizzas a wrote something worth while. I am amazed. Just give your address David I will send you 45 turkeys for your typical breakfast meal.

Nascar and the Canadian Curmudgeon said...

Here we go again ..round and round the circle...nascar penalizes someone severely to get everyone's attention ..it goes quiet for a few weeks and then it's repeated.. and it will happen again in a few weeks..the only way to stop it is to tell them to load it up and see you next week with a legal car..

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more, and to those who say if you aren't cheating you aren't trying must not be raising children. My concern is this - why does Chad Knaus continue to get away with cheating and the penalties don't seem to be more severe for a repeat offender. Thanks

jeff said...

It's really sad we will never see another Smokey Yunick in NASCAR. Creative thinking and building a better mousetrap were what built this country. And I thought communism was dead.

benchracingsteve said...

Steve Letarte's parents should be worried about the company their son is keeping. Little Stevie hanging out with perennial cheater Chad Knaus can only lead to more unacceptable behaviour. Maybe Hendrick should seperate the two by sending the 24 team to hang out in the 25 and 5 shop. Then he'll be out of the cheating loop too. Chad Knaus is like the bratty little kid that thinks everybody else's rules don't apply to him.

Chad now has six weeks to sit around his office and dream up new ways to cheat during the Chase. Sitting him down for the duration would have solved that problem and really sent a message.

Pam said...

Don't think I could have said it better. Thanks for saying it for me.

The Commish said...

Reverend Poole sendeth condemnation unto the adventurous, but lo, what if the fenders had been flared on a go-or-go-homer's car? Or on Kasey Kahne's car? Playing in those gray areas is often the only way a team in the back can keep up with the megaliths like HMS and RCR. Now NASCAR is saying, the only place you can fix the car is underneath, so go spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on setup plates and seven-post rigs and shock development and computer simulation--the kinds of innovation only the wealthy teams can afford. By taking Bondo out of the equation on the COT, NASCAR is inadvertently hurting the teams it thinks it is protecting.

And BTW, thanks for quoting the rule book. If you do that often enough, maybe we fans can cut and paste together one for ourselves, since NASCAR won't let us see it otherwise. But there's no penalty for hiding the rules from the fans, is there?

Anonymous said...

Maybe all of you should read Q&A with John Darby as he said they did not pass the templates.

Anonymous said...

Hendrick dominates because Rick Hendrick has a history of and predisposition toward not playing by the rules.

He didn't play by the rules in his auto sales deals and was convicted of mail fraud for it. A presidential pardon doesn't change the fact that he did it.

He doesn't play by the rules in NASCAR, either. Go look at Chad Knaus' rap sheet at the bottom of the article on That's Racin'.

As long as Rick Hendrick thinks the rules don't apply to him, his teams will be successful. Take Rick's cheating mindset out of the equation and I'll wager you don't see nearly as many wins or top ten finishes from the HMS cars.

Monkeesfan said...

anonymous #22 makes a good point about Hendrick's business practices and how they apply to his racing. He does, though, miss a pertinent point about Hendrick's business practices - in his car dealership deals with American Honda he bankrupted numerous smaller dealers and poached their shops. This mentality of bankrupting all opposition has also driven his racing - he began the multicar team in 1986 and maintained it out of this mindset and got a huge hand from NASCAR when limits on testing played into his team's hands.

tarhoosier said...

Clarity, please.
Gray matter means brains, intelligence.
I think David Poole means gray areas, or gray issues, meaning neither black nor white; not addressed directly by the regulations.

Anonymous said...

# 55 must have been ok at daytona if 24&48&8 were ok, not cheating guess jet fuel was just a mistake to. nascar needs to say lets modfiy anything and lets race let everone do anything they wont to all u chevy fans would start crying like they did in 60 ford dodge toyota blow off there doors. only reason chevy back in racing they bought france family rules for them cry babies= chevy& rouse

Cheaters Go Home said...

Vicker team cheated today and since they are not in the top 35, they are going home! Cheater list now includes:

Waltrip
Kenseth
Riggs
Earnhardt Jr.
Gordon
Johnson
Vickers
Kahne
Biffle (NASCAR gave him a break for some reason...you know, that consistency thing)

Anonymous said...

Where is the gray area? "...If, in the judgment of NASCAR Officials ..."
NASCAR officials judgement has come under fire for inconsistencies in many areas (yellow flags) in the past. If NASCAR wants to have identical bodies with no aero advantages, get rid of the teams, build the cars themselves and cover the costs with sponsorship money. Drivers get assigned random cars, and they get paid through purse money.

Nascar Circus said...

Vickers car is too low and does not pass inspection. The standard penalty is 100 points, 6 race suspension for the crew chief and the qualification disallowed.

Why did NASCAR decide not to be consistent and penalize this team the same?

Brian France, we need integrity and consistency with the rules. This is becoming a circus.

Of course, I am requesting this from a guy that dodged a DUI in Daytona during the off season and left the scene of an alcohol related accident!

Anonymous said...

I am very confused on why NASCAR is going not going to further penalize Vicker's team. I guess there is zero tolerance only when NASCAR says there is zero tolerance. Apparently the Red Bull car fits into a lighter shade of gray area.

Anonymous said...

Vickers car did not fit the templates and the Hendrick cars did. The Hendrick cars receive a more severe penalty. This was done so NASCAR could flex its muscles and say "look what we did to the number 1 team!"

Basically they all cheated and deserve the same penalty.

Greg Melvin said...

One way of slowing down the cheating would be to let Nascar put 43 cars on the track on raceday and let the teams stick their numbers on em and let em race.

Tim said...

jeff said...

Did the cars fit the the templates? Yes they did. Maybe NASCAR needs to get the gray matter out of their collective brain and we won't have body issues. Just because "they didn't like it" leads me to believe they don't like being showed up. It's the 21st century, time to get rid of their out-dated inspection process.

6/26/2007 10:04 PM
Question? Did you read the post? Here let me help you.

The car body must be acceptable to NASCAR officials and meet the following minimum requirements:

* Streamlining of the contours of the car, beyond that approved by the Series Director, will not be permitted.
* If, in the judgment of NASCAR Officials, any part or component of the car not previously approved by NASCAR that has been installed or modified to enhance aerodynamic performance, will not be permitted. All cars must remain standard in appearance.
* Fenders may not be cut or altered except for wheel or tire clearance, which must be approved by the Series Director.

OK, where’s the "gray" there?

They knew exactly what they were doing. They did it at Phoenix but didn't get caught. Let me say this, I am not a Hendrick fan, I'm not a hater either. But for Jeff Gordon and Jimmy Johnson to stand in front of the camera and tell me their teams didn't think they were cheating is a gross insult to my intelligence! Come on guys! We are smarter than that!

Anonymous said...

Nascar has lost control. The problem is that nobody respects Brian France. He has very little integrity and is trying to rule like a dictatorship. It only works if you have respect! Go have another drink Brian and do not forget to use your influence to get out of hit and run, alcohol related accidents!

Anonymous said...

Crew chiefs suspensions did not prohibit them from going to the races. Once the media ran with the story about Tony Eury Jr. being at the track, Brian France felt like he was outsmarted (it takes very little to outsmart Brian France) and decided to change the rules about crew chiefs being at the track. You see Brian, you need to specify rules and consequences ahead of time instead of making it a moving target. That is common sense in running a business. I wish Mike Helton could take control.

Monkeesfan said...

anonymous #34, that shows how unqualified Brian France really is - he's making it up as he goes instead of proceeding with some kind of coherent plan. It's in keeping with the fact he was raised in LA instead of in the South - he has no clue about racing. This adds to the point anonymous #33 makes - no one respects him, and well they shouldn't, because the premises he's brought to how to run the sport - the supposed need for "diversity," for a playoff format, for a Car Of Tomorrow, for a spec-engine package (that's apparantly in the pipeline now) - are all ridiculous.