Saturday, March 29, 2008

The sway bar and the way things are

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Jack Roush is probably getting tired of people talking about him like he’s a crazy ol’ coot over this business of Michael Waltrip Racing having one of his front sway bars from Dover in September until sometime in January.

Waltrip said Saturday that it was a mistake. The part got to his team by mistake and when somebody from Roush called to ask if they had it, Waltrip’s team looked for it, found it and returned it.

Waltrip is right when he says that stuff gets flung around in the garage area all of the time. When races end, crews pack their gear up rapidly because everyone’s trying to head for the plane or their cars to get home as fast as they can.

Supposedly this sway bar is longer than your average sway bar and wouldn’t fit in the place where sway bars normally live on a team’s tool box. This one was placed under Roush’s tool box in some manner and it seems possible that it could have literally rolled too far and been picked up by mistake by Waltrip’s team.

The way Waltrip tells it, somebody saw they had this oddly long bar painted in a different color and just put it aside figuring that there was no telling where it came from.

The way Roush tells it, though, in January a vendor called Roush Fenway Racing and said it had been contacted to see if that vendor could make pieces copying whatever it is that was special about the ends of this piece that the Roush guys had developed for the car of tomorrow.

OK, that’s where this story that so many people are joking about gets serious in my eyes.

Even if the way the part got “misplaced” was completely innocent, if somebody is trying to copy whatever makes this bar unusual then that’s a pretty sinister turn to the whole affair.

Some people have questioned what good a sway bar could do, how much better it could be and how much better it could make a car. Those are all legitimate questions, but if somebody saw what Roush Fenway Racing had done and decided it was good enough to try to copy, doesn’t that justify Roush’s contention the part had “proprietary” value?

The crux of the question, to me, is where the line is between right and wrong in the eyes of the garage area on this matter.

Roush said Friday that he’s been in the sport 22 years and never felt he’d had anything outright stolen from him or that he’d never condoned having anyone on his team steal anything from another team. Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he felt like a theft of that nature would be an egregious offense, too.

But others laughed at the idea of calling this a “theft.”

It is true that the garage area is open and teams “spy” on each other all of the time. Cars are inspected in the open. Every once in a while people stand around and watch a teardown. When a Daytona 500 winner’s car is put on display at the Daytona 500 Experience, other teams sometimes send somebody over there to take detailed pictures and even do drawings of certain parts of the winner’s car.

So are there really any parts or pieces that are “off limits” to such scrutiny?

What’s considered proper and what’s considered over the line in looking at what the other guy’s got?

That’s one of those questions that you can get 20 different answers on if you ask 20 different people.

I guess it’s also like stealing another teams signs in baseball or videotaping a rival football team’s coach when he’s signaling in plays. Some people think that’s dirty pool and others think that’s just the way the game is played. Any way you can get an advantage you get it.

If you’re walking through a hotel lobby and you see a copy of the playbook or game notes from the team you’re getting ready to play, what do you do? Do you pick it up and use it, feeling that the team that lost it should have known better? Do you just pretend you never saw it? Or do you pick it up and then call the opposing coach and tell him you’ve got it and arrange to return it?

That answer to that question, I think, depends on how much integrity you have. In racing, though, you wonder how much good integrity does you.

Cars that don’t pass postrace inspection can still win races. The garage-area mantra has always been “if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.”

The rulebook is looked at as an outline of suggestions and interpreted whatever way it can be to justify whatever it is you’re trying. Where in all of that does honorable behavior fit in?


nh_nascarfan said...

Its going to be interesting to see where this whole thing leads... but on the surface its sure looks like cheaters calling each other cheaters.

Anonymous said...

There is a difference between a cheater and a thief.

Anonymous said...

Jack's teams are running well this year - Edwards has won twice (well, sort of), Kenseth is consistent as hell, Biffle is up there each week, etc. He should focus his time, effort and energy into keeping them there and truly being one that can come into a weekend as a prohibitive favorite. Right now, it's Hendrick and Gibbs who have that. When a Rousch car has a good week, it's almost like an accident.

Also, if this vendor whose call promted the discovery of this whole incident did so in January as has been reported, that means that the sway bar had been in possession of MWR for a little over two months, since the last COT race of '07. Rousch didn't know it was gone until January? If this bar is so proprietary and important, I'd sure as hell account for it a lot better than that.

Get over it Jack. NASCAR doesn't seem to feel this warrants an investigation...Jeff Gordon isn't really calling the FBI...and you have a race team to run.

Anonymous said...

hey if i was jack, and we all know toyota will lie steal and cheat to win, i'd be pissed as hell too. mikey is a lying piece just like the rest of the toyota camp. they should not be in nascar in any way shape or form.

Anonymous said...

Jack's crazy but mikey isn't exactly as nice as he portrays to be. Since Mikey left DEI and went to Toyota the cheatin stuff with the fuel additive and stuff, He's been suspect for everything. I liked mikey while at DEI but when i heard the story break on Tradin' Paint with Postman and Chocolate, and it was a toyota driver, Mikey quickly came to mind so i'm really not surprisedI'm not defending the "crazy cat in in the hat" but he does need to focus more on his consistant drivers and not the Toyota deal. There's my rant on that.

Anonymous said...

Get over it Jack ... It's not like Mikey is going to win any races anyway ... Soon Mikey will go broke and we'll be forced to listen to the Waltrip Brothers every Sunday on TV ...

Anonymous said...

Two Waltrip's competeing for "talk time"...that's more than anyone should be subjected to! Maybe they could be employed by the CIA and used to get info from the terrorists...

NM Cup Fan said...

Some credit should be given to the vendor that contacted Roush in January, he obviously had higher ethics.
I have no problem with Toyota being in NASCAR but MW is a two faced snake that will do anything to run 34th each week.
NASCAR should be investigating.

Anonymous said...

If Roush's sway bar is so special, Nascar should confiscate it from the little man.

Anonymous said...

I'll have to agree with mikey is a "two faced snake that will do anything to run 34th each week." But Jack Roush is no angel himself.

Anonymous said...

stealing is stealing,i went to a bank and money was every where, and i was trying to hurry up to get home, I did not steal is who you are in the the great land of nascar.dont for get mikey has been known to cheat.D W is not the one to ask if he stole that is his brother,give us a break.

Anonymous said...

I guess the company asked to reproduce the sway bar didn't bother to get the name of the person asking? To me that detail turns this from an innocent mistake into a blatant attempt to steal from another team. If Roush has the proof maybe he didn't want to release it until they were certain about taking legal action, but now that that isn't going to happen he needs to let that info out and let the court of public opinion decide. I for one would be a lot more sympathetic toward Roush if they provide proof a Toyota team contacted the sway bar manufacturer.

Anonymous said...

Ok so the scenario in the media isn't the story that circulated the racing community...THIS is just a pissing match between Jack and Toyota...stemming from the potshot "Pearl Harbor" comments when Toyota annouced it's coming to Cup...Now since MOST shops build there own componants so why would MWR call the manufacture and ask for a Roush Type swaybar?...Jack maybe you shouldn't piss off your empoyee's, I think that "Rocket Fuel" has affected your train of though!

Anonymous said...

toyota kinda stated that, in baseball terms, the fuel thing was strike one and two. what will toyotas sanction of mwr be?

Anonymous said...

I don't have a particular fondness or axe to grind with Jack or Michael but Michael's version is about as credible as Hillary Clinton's "under sniper fire in Bosnia" story. From the "unapproved substance" in the manifold to his leaving the scene of an accident and "I didn't hear the police at the door" story, Michael seems to think he can talk his way out of anything.

Let's ask his sponsors: If i received something of value, say a new laptop, delivered to me by mistake by UPS, would it be ok to just hang on to it until someone asked for it? If some NAPA parts "mysteriously" showed up in my garage, would NAPA accept my story that "I don't know how they got there" or would they perhaps press charges?

Again, I'm not a Rousch fan, but this is way over the line for a top series, high dollar team.

Anonymous said...

You guys are getting nervous…Toyota, MWR, the DEVIL…..what will they do next build a better racecar. There isn’t a team, owner, driver who hasn’t done something stupid to get ahead in this sport since my first race in 79’. My god even JR’s Nationwide team cheated, make sure and put him in the same category. But who would do that? JR didn’t know that was happening did he? The reason this is news, because Jack hates the big ugly foreign T word, and they probably don’t like him. The reason this is news, NASCAR has to fill 22,984 hours of programming in an oversaturated, over publicized, over hyped, race diluted series with more money than it can spend. Foreign name plate..WHO CARES….cheating….WHO CARES…. I guess NASCAR does, it makes them money, and it gives you guys who sit on a couch for 6 ½ hours on Sunday something to do. I’m bored with this whole thing.

DPS1890 said...


Anonymous said...

Okay,anonymous,if you are so bored with all this why are you wasting two hours of your time to even bother to post your stupid rant?Seems to me YOU are the one who needs to "get a life"!
As far as this deal is concerned,Rousch needs to grow up and quit being a lying,cheating crybaby and NA$CAR needs to sit MWR down for the rest of the season.Seem's to me like Mikey thinks Toyota is going to cover his butt no matter what he tries.This isn't the 60's anymore.Too many people have too much (as in MANY millions of dollars)riding on his team to be playing games like this

Anonymous said...

So far I have not heard or seen anyone say that anyone could identify the part as belonging to Roush just by looking at it. I've read it had a part number on it, but I do not recall seeing anyone write that it had the Roush name or logo on it.

In any event I think the posting should have disclosed that Toyota has been Roush's favorite whipping boy and that it has been reported that Jack Roush has said he went to Ford for more money in 2007 to combat the Toyota threat, and Ford ponied up.

Roush's story does loose a lot of steam if the party trying to copy Roush's part is with a team other than MWR.

Anonymous said...

Graceann said...
There is a difference between a cheater and a thief.

I suppose if you want to split hairs, however dont forget (as most people who have posted havent) Daytona 2007. Is Mikey a cheater AND a theif? Perhaps... but one thing is certain... he is a cheater, as is one of Jacks teams, thus Jack is as well since the buck stops with him.

Bottom line is that this has turned into a gigantic pissing match between two stubborn guys who have a win at all cost mentality.

Anonymous said...

If I were a thief and stole an item that had serial numbers on it, and had the equipment to sandblast or remove the Roush/Fenway name and paint color off of the swaybar, I sure a hell would have removed the serial numbers.

If I picked someone elses equipment up by mistake, I'd probably give it back, UNLESS, it was the guy who takes potshots at me. Then I'd keep it until he asked for it.

Waltrip is smarter than he lets on and sly like a fox. You think he acheived this being stupid?