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:
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.
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.