As I watched Todd Bodine’s and David Starr’s crews go at it last weekend (here is the video in case you missed it), I figured some harsh penalties would be doled out. And why not? I heard someone spit in David Starr’s face, and that Dennis Adcock, one of the lead series officials, was hit in the melee. Not to mention Wayne Auton’s (NCTS Series Director) lack of tolerance for things like this. Needless to say I was a little surprised by the penalties released on Wednesday.
In all, three crew members were suspended for one race by NASCAR: Mike Hillman Jr., #30 crew chief; Mark Hillman, #30 truck chief; and William Divel, hauler driver on the #11 truck. All are on probation until December 31st and all have had fines levied against them for varying amounts. In addition the crew chiefs on the #11 and the #9 were put on probation, as were two additional crew members and all of the teams involved.
So, before I begin, let me say I think David Starr was driving like a madman Saturday afternoon. In addition to Reutimann and Bodine, he also took out the #81 of Donny Lia who was headed to a solid top-10 finish (as a side note, kudos to the Randy Moss guys for not heading into the fight). Also, the Germain teams had every reason to be angry, Starr destroyed two of their race trucks in a matter of laps.
That being said, NASCAR’s penalties were a joke. Mike Hillman Jr. was already on probation before the fight. So instead of suspending him for a long period and demonstrating the importance of minding your p’s and q’s, they suspend him for the next race and extend his probation into the off-season. Big deal. I don’t think NASCAR understands the concept of probation. It has absolutely no meaning to officials, so I ask, what is the point of having it if it is not enforced. Hillman deserved to be suspended for much longer than he was, and probably deserved a monetary penalty higher than what he received. It should not be okay to continuously violate rules and/or probation. It undermines NASCAR’s authority and sets up a bad precedent.
While we are on the Hillmans, I wonder why Mike Sr. received no penalties. I guess NASCAR decided his role in the brawl was not significant enough to warrent fines, probation or suspension.
Furthermore, why did Todd Bodine not receive any penalties, when Starr got a $10,000 fine and probation through the end of the year? Since when is it okay to make after-race contact with another driver? While he was smart and avoided the fight, his on track demonstration of frustration should have been enough.
Now don’t get me wrong, I like a fight every now and then. They are entertaining. But the extent of this incident warranted much higher penalties than were given out. NASCAR dropped the ball, and ultimately the only ones they are hurting are themselves.