Wednesday, February 14, 2007

So, do we understand you to say that a certain level of cheating is acceptable?

Sights, sounds and observations from Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway:

NASCAR chief executive officer said in his "state of the sport" speech on Tuesday that when you have 120 cars at a given track you’re bound to have a certain number of them who try to beat the rulebook.

That’s sad, isn’t it?

Counting all the Nextel Cup, Busch and Truck cars here this week, it’s more like 140 cars. Let’s say that "only" seven of them are found to be violating the rules. That’s a conservative estimate, since we already know about five for sure, but let’s just keep the math simple.

If there are seven cars out of 140 that can’t be counted on to play by the rules, and if France and NASCAR find that percentage acceptable that means that it’d be 5 percent of the cars here. So, by that accounting, it’s acceptable for the people in racing to be honest 95 percent of the time.

OK, now let’s say you’re a father. You’ve got a son who’s about 6 years old and he’s beginning to ask you all of those questions you never quite know how to answer.

"Daddy?" he says. "If I play fair 95 percent of the time, if I tell you the truth 95 percent of the time, if I obey 95 percent of the law, will I be OK?"

Which is the right answer?

a) Yes, son. That’s about the best I should expect.

b) No, son. You need to be honest 100 percent of the time.

It was very windy during Wednesday’s practices. There were whitecaps in Lake Lloyd in the track’s infield and, at one point, a wheeled beer cart in the Fan Zone was blown around several revolutions by the wind. Fortunately, since crowds weren’t as big on Wednesday as they will be later this week, the cart was empty and no beers were lost.

I said this on our Sirius Satellite NASCAR Radio show Wednesday morning and I will say it again here. The only racing that Evernham Motorsports should be doing this weekend should be seeing which of its three transporters makes it back to the shop in Statesville first.

I really respect Ray Evernham. I think he’s trying to build a championship quality race team and I know, without a question, that he works as hard as anybody in the sport at trying to reach his goals.

But there’s no way to sidestep the fact that having all three of your crew chiefs – or team directors, in the Evernham lexicon – suspended in the same weekend looks awfully bad.

It’s always interesting to look at how the two 150-milers sort out, and this year certainly follows that pattern.

The first three starters in Thursday’s first race – David Gilliland, David Ragan and Boris Said – have never raced in a Daytona 500. Johnny Sauter, who starts fourth, has one career start in the race.

So there’s a total of one Daytona 500 start among those in the first two rows. And who starts next? The defending champion, Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson has Hendrick Motorsports teammate Casey Mears in that 150, while Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch are in the other. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his teammate Martin Truex are also in that race, as are Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin and both Kyle Petty and Bobby Labonte from Petty Enterprises.

But Reed Sorenson is flying solo – his teammates Juan Pablo Montoya and David Stremme are in the second race. All three of Ray Evernham’s Dodges – Elliott Sadler, Scott Riggs and Kasey Kahne – are also in the second 150.

Filling the field for the Daytona 500 is really a process that takes several steps.
You have the top 35 from last year and they’re all in. Then, you have the top two finishers from each of today’s 150-mile qualifiers. Those drivers will start in the first 39 spots on Sunday.
David Gilliland starts first on Sunday. Ricky Rudd starts second.

Take everybody from the first race that was in the top 35 – David Ragan, Jimmie Johnson, Casey Mears, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Martin Truex Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bobby Labonte, Jeff Green, Greg Biffle, Kyle Petty, Robby Gordon, Dave Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Reed Sorenson, Ken Schrader and Jeff Burton – and add the top-two finishers from that race who’re not in that group. That will be 19 drivers. They will start on Sunday on the inside of the next 19 rows behind Gilliland in positions 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and so on down to 39 in the order they FINISH in today’s first race.

Now, go to the second 150. David Stremme, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, J.J. Yeley, Elliott Sadler, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick, Mark Martin, Tony Raines, Kurt Busch, Scott Riggs, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne are the drivers guaranteed spots in that race. Add the top two finishers from outside that group. Those 18 drivers fill positions 2, 4, 6, 8 and so on behind Rudd in the starting lineup.

Now, we have four more slots to fill.

The next three go the three drivers who were fastest in Sunday’s qualifying who’re not guaranteed spots. Boris Said, Sterling Marlin and Johnny Sauter are in those spots for now, but if they make the race through the 150s those spots could pass to, in this order, David Reutimann, Jeremy Mayfield and Mike Skinner.

The 43rd spot goes to a former champion otherwise not qualified if there is one. Dale Jarrett is the first one eligible for that spot, followed by Bill Elliott. If neither needs that spot, the next person in line on speed would get it.


Anonymous said...

While not condoning cheating I have to say is your "5% rule" all that far out of the norm.

In NASCAR it's certainly better than 20-30 years ago.

And you can bet your bottom dollar way more than 5% percent of steroid bloated MLB players are on the juice at any given time over the last decade and a half.

NBA? Hmmm... lets see, how many really believe a guy like Spud Webb could dunk a ball without taking more than the single step in the paint that the rule book allows and the officials overlook when he took 2 or three.

Bruce E Simmons said...

"a certain level of cheating is acceptable?"

Or is NASCAR limited to how thorough an inspection they can do? How long would inspection lines be if they bore down on everyone with the same intentsity? Or how would advertisers and sponsors respond to a continual stream of infractions coming out of the garage? Toyota made a strong statement that emanated from the Waltrip incident. In my blog, I ask the question if the apple hasn't fallen far from the storied Waltrip tree, or if Michael is an honest victim? His image tells me the later, but we don't know the man, only the image we see on TV. (Michael has to be in the dog house, causing Buffy to lose 100 owner points.. PB & J for him buddy!!)

It's a tough question. Life itself "is not fair", period. Students seem to think shortcuts and cheating are the norm, as it is in business these days. "Cheating is a shortcut and it's a pretty efficient one in a lot of cases."

Where do you draw the line? Do you draw the line? As with other businesses, money drives the bottom line and the ability to perform. It may all depend on the advertisers and sponsors and if you get cuaght or not.

Thank the gods there was no beer in the cart.. you scared me for a moment David.

As far as Evernham goes, you make a great point, but at least they're consistent. (Hmm, does this indicate a general team philosophy?)

I think they should only take the top 20 positions from the previous year, and then let the Duels sort out that many more starting positions! Now that might make it interesting for everyone involved!

The 43rd spot goes to a former champion otherwise not qualified if there is one.
Judging on what I've seen so far, I think Jarrett will probably be using a provisional. Toyota has not made a phenomal performance impact as far as I can tell, but the race will tell all in the end, and so will the season's end.

J Fitty said...

The chrome wheels on the MWR cars sure do look slick!

Do you really think Waltrip knew nothing of the subtance in his motor? I think I believe him.

Hyder should be banned from working in NASCAR.

Anonymous said...

Michael, has been consistant through the last few years with his support of NASCAR when they "Come Down" on a cheater. I must say that in the media driven world of today trying to excuse or to try to blame someone else I think he deserves some credit for his response. I don't think he knew of the fuel additive, and I know that he is too smart to try and do someting that he knew could have the result that it did. One thing, ESPN coverage last night I have followed NASCAR for 40 years and the "gentleman" that made the remarks about Michael not having a chance to "race In" Keep your veiws to yourself and let the people (Rusty W) who know a little something about racing speak, You just sit there and be the female eye candy that you were hired for.

Anonymous said...

Pardoned Felon Rick Hendrick just had his number 24 Chevy fail todays post race inspection, NASCAR turns head the other way and says no penalty for the Felon!

NASCAR is nothing more then the WWF on Wheels, it is time all of the motor sports press call NASCAR out for what they are, a phone race series.

Anonymous said...

David Poole it is time for you to put up or shut up!

You have been crowing about cheating for two weeks now, well Jeff Gordon just got caught red handed cheating, his car was to low and everyone knows that is big advantage at Daytona where you want to get that rear spoiler out of the air.

So I guess that last lap pass you have been crowing about is really not so great after all.

The Felon gets away with another cheater car.

Do you have the balls to call Felon Motor-sports and NASCAR out on this David?

I Doubt you do.

Unknown said...

Tony Stewart hasn't lost a race this year. NASCAR wants a level playing field. Something doesn't add up...

nezer said...


So you think this shock issue in Gordon's car was intentional and done to gain an advantage?

Yes his car was low, but even NASCAR didn't feel this was intentional, didn't give much, if any, of an advantage and was quite unsafe. Remember, the shock being in the state it was did make the car lower, an advantage at these aero tracks, but also a serious disadvantage when it comes to handling.

I know you're not going to want to hear this, but, if anything, this is a testament to how good of a driver Jeff Gordon is. Deal with it.

Anonymous said...

Na$car is a complete joke with what they have done this week, they rake Matt Kasey over and take away points for NOTHING compared to letting a clearly cheating car Jeff Gordon's win the dual yet they say he is ok, no fine no nothing, even Jeff himself said "before" he knew about how much he was lower if it were mill. he would be fine but if it were a 1/4 of inch there would be a problem well guess what it was over an inch STILL nacars "boy wonder" gets nothing, this sport is a joke and every single one of you reporting on this are completely insane to let them get by with it without reporting it the way it really is you climb into bed with nascar and fail to mention it. Nacars losing fans, last year the sets were empty and veiwership was down etc. and they wonder why, I canceled everything I was going to do this year with Nascar I will not give them one dime!
I am waiting for March 18th and F1 to get started where I can watch real racing, you know one with a openly displayed rule book, not written in pencil for and team.
Thats one question you might find out wheres the rule book for nascar I want a copy? No ones got a copy because they do not have one.
The rule is move over for and Henddrick team member and for goodness sake DO Not TOUCH JR or Stewart (both of which I like but it is what it is)
Nascar is a circus and joke, they have lost alot of fans this week with their favortism.
I just wonder what why they are so afriad of Matt Kenseth? Guess hes just that dang good!
former nascar puppet!

Anonymous said...

J Fitty... Of course Waltrip knew. He is the owner, he should know everything that goes on in that team. No excuse...

Toyota should pull all support from MWR...

The sponsors need to hold their drivers/teams accountable.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I am not reading about the great MWR conspiracy after the Duel's. MW went from a primary car that was among the slowest 10% to a backup originally prepped for a teammate and ran through the field at least twice on Thursday?

He thanked "Mr Helton" way too many times for me to think he didn't recieve a little inside help. I think NASCAR "took care" of them and Toyota to help save face. All of Mikey's press releases had to have been carefully crafted by someone else, we all know he isn't smart enough to use perfect english.

nezer said...


Why should the sponsors hold drivers/teams accountable when NASCAR barely does?

In today's NASCAR the drivers don't really have that much to do with the cars. I really doubt that Scott Riggs knew anything about those holey bolts. One could argue it would be unfair to punish the driver for those sorts of infractions. OTOH, suspending a driver penalizes the team. Really, I think suspending the car number is the way to go.

All that said, WRT Mikey, there's no way he didn't know and approve this. I could be wrong but I wouldn't be surprised if the car was modified to hold whatever that substance was so they didn't have to tamper with the fuel directly. I think this is the reason they went with the 00's backup car instead of using what they brought. Maybe I'm just paranoid after reading all the stories of past years' infractions (Nos tanks built into the frame, etc). Mikey certainly learned a thing or two from his older brother. Of course, the real trick is to not get caught.

nezer said...

Anon said: "we all know he isn't smart enough to use perfect english."

Surely you mean English. ;-)

English may not be his strong point but he is smart enough to figure out how to make millions and millions of dollars being, at best, a mediocre race car driver.

How many millions have you made?

Anonymous said...

Concerning Waltrip, Yea , some underling took it on himself to put something in the gas.
Give me a break. You cheated. Just own up to it and shut up

nezer said...


I'm with ya... Unfortunatly it's not very Waltrip-like to shutup about anything.

I like Mikey, but that line about his nine year-old daughter asking Buffy "why did daddy cheat the rules" was WAY over the top... Even for a Waltrip!

I've been thinking long and hard about this cheating issue. First, NASCAR *NEEDS* to make that rulebook available for us to reference! Otherwise, it's not much better than WWF.

As far as consistency with calls and penalties, they need to have some leeway here. It would have been unfair to toss out Jeff Gordon for a failed part. (Despite what the Gordon-haters think, if it was Jr. the same people would be crying that he shouldn't have been penalized.) Unless, of course, they consistently had failed parts that gave an advantage.

Perhaps the COT will take away some of the "gray area." Somehow, I doubt it. The only way to eliminate the gray area is to be like IROC and have NASCAR build every car and the teams get assigned cars by a lottery drawing. Until that happens (and it never will nor do we really want that) we're going to have to deal with gray area.

And, for the record, there was absolutely no gray area about MWR!