User-agent: * Allow: / CH on Track: March 2013


Thursday, March 28, 2013

No fines by NASCAR--how consistently inconsistent

NASCAR failed to issue a fine following the California race at Fontana Sunday, March 23, 2013. This is surprising and totally inconsistent given that a fight broke out between Tony Stewart and Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin ended up in the hospital with a potentially serious injury.

With all that going on, NASCAR decided not to issue any fines. What?

Just after the race, Stewart got out of his race car and went after Logano, fists high in an obvious attempt to clean his clock. Then during a post-race interview, Stewart used some pretty colorful language in his criticism of the way Logano blocked him on a restart after according to Stewart, Logano spun his tires.

The more serious incident was the way Logano raced Denny Hamlin on the last lap sending Hamlin's car head-on into a concrete wall. There was no safer barrier where he hit, so his body took the impact, which has resulted in his cracking a vertebrae in his back. Hamlin is expected to be out of the car for the next six weeks, missing five races, at least.

Little would be made of this beyond calling it simply a racing incident, had it not been for the remarks Logano made after the race when he told reporters, Hamlin got what he deserved. To be fair, there was no way Logano knew Hamlin had suffered such a serious injury at the time.

No one will ever know if Logano hit Hamlin on purpose, following up on previous incidents and some sniping via Twitter, or if his car simply got loose and drifted up the track into Hamlin. I suppose as far as us race fans are concerned, it doesn't matter. Everyone will believe what they want anyway. What does matter is that Hamlin will recover, Stewart let Logano know how not to behave, and all is good.

In my opinion, NASCAR was right not to issue a fine to any of the participating drivers. But that is only because they have been wrong all the other times  they issued fines.

See the following headlines that have appeared in the last couple of years;
  • Hamlin fined $25,000 for post-race comments
  • NASCAR fines Jeff Gordon $100,000, docks him 25 points...
  • NASCAR fines, penalizes Robby Gordon for New Hampshire temper tantrum
  • Gordon, Keselowski fined, placed on probation
  • NASCAR fines Kurt Busch $50,000 for behavior
  • Keselowski fined $25,000 for in-car tweeting
  • NASCAR fines Kyle Busch $50,000, warns of indefinite suspension...
  • NASCAR fines Kyle Busch $25,000 for gesture
  • Secret fines shrouded in mystery...Ryan Newman and Brad Keselowski were beneficiaries of these

These are not inclusive--they were obtained through a quick Google search. With all this fining going on, it is no wonder there were expectations that fines would have been announced in the way of fines after California. But that didn't happen.

If there is one thing NASCAR is consistent with, it is inconsistency!

I'd like to know where all those thousands of dollars in fines have ended up. The bucks have obviously not gone toward installing safer barriers around race tracks. Why is that, since NASCAR boasts about its keen interest in safety? At the California race track, NASCAR definitely has a corporate connection.

The California track is called the Auto Club Speedway. It is owned by the International Speedway Corporation, (ISC). Brian France, NASCAR's CEO and Chairman sits on the board of that corporation along with other family members. His brother James, also a NASCAR board member is President of ISC.

I can't help but wonder why members of the media haven't bothered to ask the France brothers why there are still places on race tracks they own that are not fitted with safer barriers.

At least one thing is known for sure. It is good to know that Denny Hamlin was not more seriously injured than he was, though a broken back is nothing to sneeze at. Ouch--I can't imagine that!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ryan Newman showed finesse at Fontana

Ryan Newman in his car at Fontana
Photo, courtesy of Jerry Conner
This season's California race was the best I've seen in years. While it was not without drama, it was filled with excellent side-by-side racing and passing, which is something that races have lacked of late. Not the case Sunday at Fontana.

The finish was in the hands of the drivers, which was all too evidenced by my fave, Ryan Newman, driver of the #39 Wix Chevrolet. Newman had a hard day at the beginning with a fast car but some handling issues. He overcame a speeding penalty on pit road as well as a boneheaded mistake when his pit crew that not only negated the chassis changes he needed, but they turned the track bar the wrong way, worsening the handling. Newman and his team persevered though, turning it around with a tenth-place finish. Not only that, his crew chief Matt Borland won the season's first MOOG Problem Solver of the Race award. The award is sponsored by global vehicle components manufacturer Federal-Mogul Corporation.

According to Market Watch in the Wall Street Journal, "the award is presented to the crew chief whose car posts the greatest improvement in average lap time during the second half of the race while finishing on the lead lap. Newman and the 39 Chevrolet topped the field with a 0.354-second improvement over the final 100 laps to finish 10th at Fontana."

Congratulations to Ryan Newman and Matt Borland, his crew chief. The two were reunited at the end of last season. Newman, with Borland on the pit box won 12 races together at Penske Racing between 2002 and 2005. 

Since coming together at Stewart-Haas Racing, the duo has earned three top-10s in five starts - including a fifth-place finish in this year's Daytona 500. They have much to overcome however, since the races at Phoenix and Las Vegas ended with DNF's due to tire issues and an engine failure. 

Newman now stands in 20th position, up three spots and on the rise.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, March 8, 2013

NASCAR is going too far

Denny Hamlin celebrating after winning the sec...
Denny Hamlin drives the #11 car
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The recent announcement that Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 car, has been fined $25,000 for detrimentl comments is simply BS. Hamlin merely voiced his concerns last week that the new 'generation 6' car needed some tweaking because it was impossible to pass other cars on the race track. Hamlin drove to a third place finished at Phoenix.

Since the fine was imposed, Hamlin also stated that he has no intention of paying it.

"I believe I was severely disrespected by NASCAR by getting fined. I believe that the simple fact of us not even having a conversation about this issue before I was hit with a fine has something to say about our relationship," Hamlin told the media.

I couldn't agree more.

Who does NASCAR think it is, censoring a driver for having an opinion? This is America, where citizens are guaranteed free speech. There is no exemption for race car drivers that I know of.

NASCAR is a sanctioning body--not an almighty racing god--for which apparently they perceive themselves. That have made a practice of slinging their weight around in the form of monetary and driver points fines the last several years in a total arbitrary and capricious fashion, as far as I can tell.

Ironically, they are leveling fines for damaging the sport, but they are the ones damaging the sport. The result has been bad attitudes among the fans and poor morale among the drivers.

NASCAR has said it was going to let the drivers "have at it," yet if they do, they get slapped with fines. NASCAR is becoming ridiculous and needs to knock it off before auto racing goes the way of the dinosaurs.
Enhanced by Zemanta