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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!

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