This Secret Fine Discussion Has Become Ridiculous

I really didn’t want to have to write this post.  I figured that everyone was smart enough to really see things clearly and think logically, but I’ve been proven horribly wrong.  After Jenna Fryer’s AP story about NASCAR “secretly” fining drivers that appeared this week, there has been a ton of discussion about the topic.  I can respect people’s opinions on both sides of an argument, as everyone is entitled to what they think, but in this case some out there have completely lost it.

Before I even say what I want to say, I’m going to do you a favor.  What I’m about to write will probably make some of you angry, and I’m cool with that.  So before you call me a “NASCAR homer” in the comment section, stop.  I’m going to side with NASCAR on this one, and I already know where this is leading.  So save your energy.

Now, as everyone seems to know, NASCAR is currently in a tough spot.  Attendance has been falling at tracks across the board and TV ratings continue to slump.  NASCAR has made a ton of changes to try and fix what they believe the problems to be, and more changes are coming.  NASCAR hopes these changes will bring people back to the track and get more people watching on TV, which in turn will hopefully bring sponsors back to racing that left, and also attract some new ones.

As NASCAR attempts to get back what they lost, what they really don’t need is a ton of bad press.  And what do drivers do that continually bad mouth the sanctioning body and its decisions to the public?  Create bad press.

ESPN has reported that they know who the drivers are that were fined by NASCAR, but to me, it doesn’t matter.  What all of the drivers need to realize is that the media and the fans listen to what they have to say.  If people didn’t care what they had to say, nobody would interview them.  And don’t even try to tell me that fans don’t need to listen to the drivers to see how bad things are with NASCAR.  If Dale Jr. can convince JR Nation to go out and buy Amp to the point that Amp’s sales go up 70% in the first year of the sponsorship, and Amp’s market share jumps from sixth in the category to fourth, this guy and all the other drivers can affect fans’ opinions.

Right now, it seems that fan frustration is pretty high.  We read comments and emails from folks all the time about how they are close to quitting all together, and more from people that have given up.  By criticizing NASCAR to the media, the drivers are just adding to the fan frustration and helping drive more of them away.  And when fans leave, so do sponsorship dollars.  So really, these drivers are really just hurting themselves, because with less sponsorship, there will be less rides for them to occupy, and less money available to pay them big salaries.

With all of this said, NASCAR must do all they can right now to protect their brand.  They cannot afford to lose any more of the race fans.  NASCAR wants the fans to be happy, because happy fans buy race tickets and merchandise, and watch on TV.  So when a driver becomes overly critical of the sport, action must be taken.  In this case, NASCAR decided fines were necessary to show not only the offending drivers, but everyone else that this would not be tolerated.  What’s interesting to note here, is that according to spokesman Ramsey Poston, NASCAR warned all the drivers about the possibility of fines months ago.

For those of you who claim these fines violate free speech, try again.  NASCAR did not fine these drivers because they had an opinion.  They fined them because they chose the wrong forum in which to express that opinion.  If the competitors really have a problem with the way things are being run, they need to take those opinions directly to Mike Helton, John Darby, Joe Balash, and Wayne Auton.  Complaining to the media and fans won’t get them anywhere.

Moving on to this idea of “secret” fines, at what point did anyone say these fines were secret?  There is a big difference between “secret” and not making something public knowledge.  The original AP story has quotes from Poston in which he acknowledges that action was taken.  He didn’t deny it, nor were these drivers told to keep the fines a secret.  NASCAR is allowed to deal with problems internally, and not everything warrants a press release.  The last time you were written up at work for being late 47 days in a row, something tells me your HR manager didn’t send out a press release to the local paper.

I also want to point out here that if NASCAR wanted something to be secret, it would remain secret.  The community is extremely small, and if you think there aren’t things you don’t know about, then you are sadly confused.

With all of this being said, I’m not the enemy here.  I agree with you that the drivers need to have their own personalities, and be able to speak their minds.  Showing emotion is what makes us love and hate these guys.  But drivers can show emotion without bashing NASCAR every five minutes in their post race press conferences.  There is already way too much negativity in the press, the drivers don’t need to help.

I’m siding with NASCAR on this one because they were right to do what they did.  Myself and thousands of other people depend on this sport and the jobs provided by it to pay our bills and feed our families.  Fans not showing up and sponsors pulling out affects me and a lot of other people I know personally.  I’m lucky to still have a spot in racing, but I know a ton of guys who don’t.

So the next time a driver wants to bitch and moan in an interview about what they perceive to be phony debris cautions, maybe they should think a little more about the ramifications of their words.  It just might turn out that they unknowingly killed their own career.

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48 Responses to “This Secret Fine Discussion Has Become Ridiculous”

  1. Garry says:

    Honesty is the best policy, and fining people for stating their opinion will only lead to NON-HONESTY.

    NASCAR is an aging dictatorship. They have always ruled with an iron fist going back to when France crushed the unions. Now babyFrance is in charge and he is not the man papa was …. This is an old old old story. It has happened over and over and over. Dictatorships are are no way to run an organization. You can not crush humans into submission. Dictatorships are based on secrets and lies and that is what we are seeing.

    It is never a good idea to shut people up, what if they are correct? Look at the NBA and the fines they gave to Mark Cuban to try to shut him up about his comments about dirty refs …. and when the fines reached $500,000 he did shut up …BUT …. I have always wondered if they gave him back his money when Tim Donaghy was sent to prison for being exactly the type cheating dirty ref Mark Cuban refered to.

    Mark Cuban is not stupid and NASCAR drivers are not stupid. When these GROWN MEN see some BS, it is their right to call BS!!

    NASCAR fining people to silence them only makes me more suspicious of NASCAR and the dirty pool going on.

    If a grown man thinks there is a problem then maybe NASCAR should adress that possible as opposed to fine people to shut them up .

    HUSH MONEY IS A BAD THING, IT ALWAYS HAS BEEN. Ignoring problems (shutting people up) does not mean there is no problem, it only means that the problem will grow and fester and become infected and could be lethal.

    NASCAR’s problems are NOT drivers talking. NASCAR has much bigger problems and sweeping problems under the carpet to ignore them will not fix the problem.

    NASCAR is a dictatorship and history has shown us that in long run unfair dictatorships ALWAYS fail. NASCAR needs to change the way it runs things or it will die, and there will be no sympathy.

    NASCAR needs to open things up and be more honest ….. before we all walk away. NASCAR is slowly killing the goose laying golden eggs.

  2. rachel says:

    You state, ” If the competitors really have a problem with the way things are being run, they need to take those opinions directly to Mike Helton, John Darby, Joe Balash, and Wayne Auton. Complaining to the media and fans won’t get them anywhere.” The drivers have complained ad nauseum about problems to those you mentioned, and those complaints fell on deaf ears.

    You are so far off the mark. I will tell you why tomorrow.

  3. Josh says:

    I can appreciate the author’s side of the argument, but I really disagree with the position that NASCAR did the correct thing in this situation. Sensationalism in the media is a given, and any bad press received over driver comments is negligible compared the “secret fine” headlines the sport is getting now. Secret or not, keeping the fines out of public awareness was bound to leak and backfire by tarnishing the reputation of the sport, if there is anything left to tarnish.

    I should confess that I am in the group of people who have become apathetic about NASCAR, and generally only watch the road course races in full just to see some new faces from other forms of motor-sport. Spec cars, fake cautions, and cookie cutter tracks make me feel, after watching a race, that what I saw was meaningless. Even if the race is boring, even if one manufacturer dominates, I prefer a more pure racing.

    One last thing. Drivers can not carry a series, and they don’t ruin one. Our heroes will always let us down and say or do stupid things. Auto racing is about the cars, and the drivers come second. As a third generation NASCAR fan, I can remember stories of how angry my grandfather was when Fireball Roberts went to Ford, and was never a fan of his again. How can this type of fan loyalty, which laid the foundation of NASCAR, exist in the modern era of spec cars with only stickers to differentiate them? I know Earnhardt was an exception to this, but even he would have lost tons of fans had he and Childress suddenly changed the black 3 to a Ford.

  4. T.C. says:

    rachel: Deaf ears? What about all these town hall and individual meetings NASCAR has had with the teams and drivers?

  5. steve says:

    Somebody has to jump to TC’s defense…

    As pointed out, the drivers have multiple forums in which to make their opinions known. They weren’t fined because they had opinions, but rather (presumably, since the details aren’t public) because they expressed those opinions in a way that NASCAR felt was detrimental to NASCAR’s integrity. There are some things no participant in a sport (any sport, and especially one which is struggling to retain fan support) should be able to get away with and one of them is alleging that the administrators of the sport are crooked or otherwise aren’t fair in their actions.

    As for the claim that the offending drivers were standing up for the sport, viewing themselves as the ‘victims’ of, for example, a phantom caution flag, this falls into the category of ‘if it helps me, it’s ok, if it doesn’t, it stinks’ and thus is to be taken with a grain of salt. Hamlin was in the lead when the flag comes out so he complains, the other drivers who got a chance to catch him don’t have a problem with it… just as Hamlin didn’t seem to have a problem when a flag was thrown a bit early that cost Gordon a win and gave Hamlin a chance to make up from a bad pit call. And FWIW, the same thing happens with the bumping on the track (ex. Kyle Busch gushing about how he and Edwards showed respect at the end of Saturday’s Nationwide race, yet having no qualms at all about having bumped Trevor Bayne out of the lead earlier in the race, or Jeff Gordon complaining about Johnson and then going out the way he did at Infineon). I’d be a bit more supportive of the complaints – and complainers – if they weren’t such blatant hypocrites.

    As for the secrecy, no problem there either. NASCAR made their point, they didn’t need to publicly call out the offenders. In fact, since they kept it somewhat of a secret, it might have more of a deterrent effect, as the drivers can’t be 100% certain which comments by which drivers earned the fines.

  6. Keith_KaGee says:

    It’s all about perception T.C.. To quote Jeff Gluck “Police yourselves to Police State”. The public appearance is that they said one thing but doing another behind closed doors.

    NASCAR has always wanted to be included as a “sport”. No other professional sport hides who or why it disciplines. Or is this just another one of the many “exemptions” that NASCAR chooses to claim when being compared to other “sports”?

  7. Ellen says:

    The lesson is something we all learned in kindergarten – don’t bite the hand that feeds you. It’s one thing to whine about a call. It’s another to make stupid comments like for example, Joey Logano did after a NW race that he knew the caution was going to come out, so that NASCAR could give the race to Kyle Busch. Yeah, great, the competitors are calling it WWE on Wheels instead of a sport. That’ll help attendance. Or maybe not.

    You all do realize this is the same as if you run to the media, tell them your employer is cheating on his taxes, not paying minimum wages to the illegal aliens he hires, and rips off the customers, have it appear in a front page article in the local paper, have the national news crucify your company as all that is wrong with America, and then still expect to have a job the next day. How many customers do you expect your employer to keep? Do you think you deserve to be fired?

    Wow, 2 drivers who because of mean evil NASCAR earn millions of dollars per year went out and said stupid things and were fined. Real money and everything. Yeah, that’s awful. Maybe we should take up a collection.

    It’s an internal problem with insubordination, and doesn’t affect competition. It’s really none of our business. Of course after Jenna Fryer came out with it, everyone wanted details – that’s human nature. But it’s ridiculous to villify NASCAR for keeping it quiet. It was a personnel matter, not a competition matter.

  8. Kim says:

    I’m a “new era” Nascar fan – just over 3 years now. I’ve never known anything other than Jimmie Johnson dominance, phony debris cautions and cookie-cutter cars!

    But I’m still a fan.

    Having drivers state what we already see and hear with our own eyes does not damage the sport, IMO. They are stating the obvious – they are human beings, not automatons. And to hear a driver make a crack about phony debris cautions is rather refreshing! Heck, Junior has made sarcastic comments about debris over his in-car. Was he ever fined?

    Anytime you penalize someone (anyone) for expressing an opinion, AND ESPECIALLY IF SAID OPINION IS “ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT”, then the organization looks like a bully.

    Before this, I saw Nascar as an organization willing to work on problems, flexible and constantly trying to improve.

    Now I see Nascar as an organization in panic mode over something they really cannot control.

    I doesn’t change my enjoyment of the sport, but it does change my perception of Nascar’s management, something none of the other aspects of the sport had managed to do.

  9. Marcus says:

    I agree with EVERYTHING T.C said. Period. Drivers need a personality but they CANNOT take it to the extreme. Period.

  10. red says:

    there are so many aspects to this issue that it’s hard to know where to start but i’m going to acknowledge that i’m in the minority here when i say that i agree with what nascar has done in fining hamlin & newman. i also have no problem with the information not being made public. here’s why: both newman and hamlin (the reported drivers fined) made repeated remarks about various aspects of the racing that did, in fact, effect fan perception of the sport. (and jim utter? anyone who claims otherwise is being deliberately obtuse! driver comments like those cement fan perceptions and make them “facts” instead of one person’s opionion.) from what’s been said, nascar made very clear that this sort of public disparaging of the sport would not be tolerated. the drivers were told there would be consequences and there are. where is the surprise element of that?

    in my business, if an employee makes disparaging public remarks about our company, you bet i’m going to haul him/her in for a talk and perhaps disciplinary action. i have a responsibility to protect the public perception of my company. that’s part of my job as a manager.
    in addition, disciplinary action is between myself and my employee, no one else. if he/she chooses to make it public, that’s his/her right but my responsibility as a manager is to maintain privacy about such issues.
    and yes, i know drivers aren’t employees, they are independent contractors but the point is the same: they participate in and represent the sport and so they do, in fact, have some obligations TO the sport, to help maintain the public perception of it and the brand.

    i don’t know if drivers feel they have a voice into the nascar corporate world; nascar says they do but i’m not a driver so i cannot know the truth of that personally. i do know that drivers have access to their owners, however, and can voice complaints there. in my world, if my employee has a problem with my company, they come to me with it. my job is to bring that to the next level of management for some sort of resolution. i would think the same is true for team owners, at least “the big guns” like gibbs, roush, hendrick, stewart, etc.

    are these drivers being “punished” for what they said? in my view, they’re being fined not for WHAT they said but WHERE they chose to say it. heat of the moment, post-wreck, post-race comment one or two times is one thing. continued negative comments outside those moments is different to me. and there are other ways to handle it. remember when earnhardt sr became so frustrated with the amount of fans allowed on pit road and the garage area? he didn’t complain to the media: he simply held an autograph session outside nascar’s big red trailer and made his point quite effectively. had he talked with bill france jr about his concerns ahead of time and been disregarded? i don’t know but i do know his action was genius and made his point without rancor. and nascar changed the access levels as a result.

    nascar, like EVERY other sport, is a business FIRST. it simply has to be that way if it wants to survive and continue to employee folks like TC and his colleagues. we could wish that it was pure sport, thriving and succeeding simply as a sport but that’s NEVER been the history of nascar and won’t be going forward. yes, we are intelligent fans and we know BS when we see it on the track & in the decisions made by the company that owns this sport. we also know there are a multitude of reasons why attendance and ratings are down. perhaps drivers publicly being disparaging of the sport are a factor. for me personally? not so much but that’s me. but the business that is nascar has determined that this behavior is a factor and so has taken action, as is their right as the business owner.

    i want nascar to continue to exist as a sport and i want to see changes in how the sport does business so that it will grow again and perhaps thrive. requiring those who make a living in the sport to be respectful of it and think about how their words effect the fans of the sport seems to me to be a reasonable, business stance.

    feel free to fire away! i’m off to manage my business and protect my company’s brand and standing.

  11. Stanley Byrd says:

    I agree, just like the NFL, the NBA, and MLB, comments concerning one’s opinion of the “officiating”, if you will, must not be made to the public. Please remember NASCAR is NOT a democracy. It is a business bent on being successful and will do just about anything it needs to make that happen. You can readily express your opinion about the others that you work with, and you can readily express your opinion about your performance, but speaking harshly about the ruling organization is restricted. Again, it is business 101.

  12. Garry says:

    On topic relating to (non)censorship….
    I would like to take a moment to give props to T.C and Journo.

    I would like to point out that even with the somewhat odd “delayed posting policy” of this web site (which I understand 100%), T.C. and Journo seem to post all of the comments submitted, even the ones they they do not agree with. I like this website a lot for that very reason.

    There does not appear to be much censorship on TNI.com and that is a good thing. I like their style of yelling back at, (actually just respnding to) posters who they disagree with ….. versus not posting the dissenting opinion at all. TNI’s policies seem to be very honest to me. I respect T.C. and Journo’s style very much. Good job guys : )

    NASCAR COULD LEARN SOMETHING FROM THIS WEBSITE, PLEASE KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK …. cuz this is fun : )

  13. Kevin says:

    “For those of you who claim these fines violate free speech, try again. NASCAR did not fine these drivers because they had an opinion. They fined them because they chose the wrong forum in which to express that opinion.”

    Quite simply, it does violate their freedom of speech, but thats not a problem. NASCAR does not give the right to freedom of speech, and them violating it is not against the law. NASCAR isn’t congress.

    I think whether or not the drivers talk about sh—- caution calls, its still noticed. I frequently wonder when a debris caution comes out about the validity of the caution. Sometimes when they show it on camera it makes sense; Other times, all they show is a truck driving around the track and i’m forced to doubt. Especially when the on-track situation is tense; Someone who we thought had a chance at challenging the leader slipped on a restart, or got loose in 3, and now the leader is running off with it.

    I don’t need a driver to tell me that i should question the call.

  14. Buck2 says:

    Credibility is the real issue here. I don’t read NASCAR’s web site because its all press releases and flak. The emergence of alternative sources for NASCAR news is the only way to get a somewhat accurate picture of what’s going on behind the scenes. Force the drivers to spout the company line, take away their opinions and personalities, and watch fans and sponsors flee. Tony Stewart is the prime example…heard anything controversial from him lately? His fiery personna has gone bland. Sold out to the Company.
    Like it or not, the fans come to the races to see the drivers…cheer for some and boo others. Take the credibility of the drivers away and everyone loses, sponsors in particular. The structure of the sport begins with the sponsors and trickles down form there as we are so acutely aware in todays environment.

  15. Bill B says:

    If NASCAR wouldn’t do things that they are ashamed to let everyone know (like throw fake debris cautions) then they wouldn’t have as many problems with fans, drivers and the media. It’s when they get heavy handed and manipulative and aren’t honest about it that things get nasty.

    From a fan’s perspective it makes me feel like they have no respect for me or consider me to be an idiot that will fall in line like sheep.

  16. Kate says:

    Way to go TC! I completely agree!!!

  17. Bill B says:

    I will also add that, perhaps this is just my perception, but has anyone noticed fewer late cautions and GWC finishes since some of these drivers called NASCAR out on it?

    I’m too lazy to actually research the numbers of, let’s say, the first 10 races of the year vs the next 10 races (11-20), but if it’s true then all you people saying drivers going to the media isn’t the way to handle it are wrong. Looks like it worked pretty good to me. If they hadn’t went public NASCAR would still be playing the same games with the race endings.

  18. Neon says:

    For once I’m smack dab on the fence post w/ this one. BIG Bill would have (and did) say to the drivers and teams, “if you don’t like it, leave! No fines, just leave”! For better, or for worse, it worked in that era. Some random newspaper coverage or infantile TV coverage collected an audience that actually knew the sport and was passionate at it. But this is the media age and IMHO NASCAR has sold them selves out by catering to a broadened audience, not for the purpose of growing a knowledgeable and passionate group, but those simply with a buck(s) to spend.

    Lastly, I am reminded of Tony Stewart’s Atl rant on Goodyear. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0la4BO6D-zw
    I vividly remember watching live and saying to myself, “he’s done in NASCAR. He’s done”. Fast forward to today. He has an abundant fan base, co-owns SHR and w/ exception of the INDY ’07 tire debacle Goodyear seems to have stepped up its game. IMHO had his comments been similarly verbalized only to Helton, Hunter and Brian they would fallen on deaf ears.

  19. DD says:

    Why did someone suddenly now feel the need to tell a reporter that fines are being levied in private? And why is everyone so surprised when its been going on for years?

    I have no problem with a privately held company insisting everyone toe the company line or suffer the consequences, ESPECIALLY when such a policy has been openly disclosed & discussed with those it concerns.

    The only reason I wanted to know which drivers got fined is because someone mentioned it & so I’m nosy. THAT’S IT. This knowledge doesn’t change anything for me. Drivers have complained about stuff for longer than I can remember. If it hurts them its bad, if it favors them its ok! Seems to me this time, the drivers fined were repeating what they heard fans say, not the other way around.

  20. Rick says:

    Not as much of a fan after Dale E. Was lost.However I gotta say,Still a NASCAR fan!

  21. PT says:

    All I really want from NASCAR on this topic is this: Say what you do and do what you say! How hard can this be?

    Dear NASCAR: Your Cone of Silence is broken.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cone_of_Silence

  22. Lydia says:

    T.C….it seems in this new era of NASCAR…NASCAR has “forgotten” about the drivers…except when it is about the “show” or “entertainment” value they hold. In this new era NASCAR has decided to make it about the “fans” with their new fan council…and listen more to what “we” (the fans) want. (Now us fans are not stupid and know the only reason they want our opinions is because they want our money…but it’s a two way street .. money in exchange for a great show..) AND then they go behind the fans backs..and do this…..NASCAR has no reason to blame ANYTHING ANY OF THE DRIVERS SAY…for lack of attendance or viewers…it only has itself to blame and the economy. As a fan..I am not dumb..when a driver says restrictor plate racing is a dangerous crapshoot..I can see it with my own eyes..and when another driver says debris cautions are “suspicious” I can also see it with my own eyes..and if a driver thinks letting a competitor use his racecar as battering ram is close to manslaughter…I certainly can see that fact too. So NASCAR is fooling itself by blaming anything a drive says for it’s drop in fans.. As a fan I love to hear a drivers opinion..heated after a wreck or a race..or just off the cuff in a media event… I don’t want it censored. So NASCAR..lay off the drivers..they are calling it as “they” see it…we fans have our own eyes, ears, minds, and can make our own decisions..but we certainly appreciate the drivers views..they are less skewed then the “press releases” NASCAR puts out to show themselves only in a good light. To me..the drivers opinions are part of the sport…and you take them with a grain of salt…SO KNOCK IT OFF NASCAR…FINING THE DRIVERS IN SECRECY MAKES YOU LOOK BAD..AND TRUST ME…YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO LOOK ANY WORSE IF YOU WANT TO STAY IN BUSINESS….

  23. Kevin in Martinsville says:

    “I will also add that, perhaps this is just my perception, but has anyone noticed fewer late cautions and GWC finishes since some of these drivers called NASCAR out on it?” – I have noticed that as well, Bill.

    I have to strongly disagree with T.C. on this one. For one, I am a firm believer in honesty and openness. This kind of policy definitely does not support that.

    NASCAR’s fans aren’t stupid. Well, at least most of us aren’t. Most of us knew what was going on with these fake debris cautions long before Denny Hamlin made his remarks. You talk about how NASCAR needs to protect its image, but in my opinion, this kind of action only makes their own image look worse!

    Fans, myself included, love this sport. By and large, that is the reason we criticize it. If we didn’t care, there would be no point in offering that criticism. Drivers are the same way. They offer criticism because they want to help protect the integrity of the sport. This action by NASCAR deals another serious blow to that already-damaged integrity.

  24. abovetheshop says:

    I’d have to agree with TC as well. All drivers have a direct line to the NASCAR Officials, as most are walking around the garage or in the NASCAR hauler every weekend. If they want to complain about something, they should go straight to them and voice their opinion – not use the media to voice it.

    I mean, they do drive in circles for a living and get paid millions to do what they love.

  25. NOT5FOR48 says:

    Comment Detrimental to Stock Car Racing!

    or is it Comment Detrimental to NASCAR?

    Really?

    The people at NASCAR Corp. HQ should all by fined, suspended, or even banned from the sport for life with what they have said and/or done to it.

    “Boys Have At It!” was supposed to be the theme of the new age of NASCAR this year. They sold it to Fans, Teams, and Drivers through broadcasts and the Media. They didn’t bother to tell the fans however their favorite driver could wreck another guy at 180 mph but he could not tell us what we already know, “NASCAR manufacturers the race results similar to the WWE predetermining the outcome of it wrestling matches.”.

    Because NASCAR secretly fines drivers for saying things that the fans can see does not negate the facts.

    Since Hamlin made the mystery caution comment G-W-C finishes at the end of race went from happening every week to once every few races.

    Chew on for a while fans.

    Brian France creates chaos in the sport to distract everyone from his greed and lack of sense to run the sport.

    I will expect to be notified I am being fined $50 K for telling the truth just like those 2 unnamed drivers, for “Comment Detrimental to NASCAR!”.

  26. Mike says:

    NASCAR announces all of the penalties they hand out for on-track violations. Whether these actually were “secret” fines or not, that fact makes it look like they’re trying to hide these fines when they don’t announce them.

    One of NASCAR’s biggest problems right now seems to be that they have absolutely no credibility with the fans, with the “let’s pretend” debris cautions, the perceived fixing of races, inequitable enforcement of rules, etc. Fining drivers who are critical of NASCAR’s actions isn’t helping at all.

  27. JT says:

    I was shocked, shocked to read it was Newman and Hamilin getting the secret fines! These guys are stars on big-time teams.

    Normally, if there are any fines to give out (especially double-secret ones), NASCAR starts with their favorite whipping boy, Robby Gordon.

    Robby, baby, stick around! We need you now, more than ever!

  28. Andrew says:

    OK I gotta gree with the author here. If I went to the media and made negative comments about my employer I’d be fired. I know Nascar isn’t an employer of the drivers but they are sort of like the boss.

    If Nascar wants to get fans back and TV ratings back then I think they need to take a step backward. I think fan interest dropped off when Nascar started racing on these so called cookie cutter tracks. Get back to your roots Nascar. Back to N. Wilksboro, back to Rockingham, put the Sothern 500 back to Labor day and add a second date to Darlington while you’re at it.

  29. I B Done says:

    TC you column is well presented and based upon your earning
    your livelihood as you do, I can appreciate your standing.
    Poston is worried about the demeaning of his stale product and
    does not realize people are seeking other forms of legitimate
    entertainment. In the past few years my sports dollars have
    changed from racing and collectibles to attending MLB, NFL and
    minor league baseball. I don’t have to question the outcomes
    of these competitions and feel that I have value for the monies
    spent.

  30. Burton fan says:

    I believe they should have released the names of the drivers or at the very least said they had fined two drivers before someone in the media found it out.

    The more secretive Nascar is, the less fans will trust them. I hate the idea of the “show” instead of just hard, honest racing.

  31. Josh says:

    I do not get the comparison between the driver/team and sanctioning body relationship being the same as an employee and employer relationship. Drivers and teams don’t work for NASCAR, they race in their series. NASCAR has no race without the teams, and the teams have no race (right now) without NASCAR.

    I mean even the FIA let Alosno run his mouth after his recent penalties, and you got to try really hard to out—– an organization previously ran by a honest to goodness fascist. Maybe NASCAR needs something like FOTA to put NASCAR in check, and in their proper place as a sanctioning body and commercial rights holder, as well as race promoter. Maybe a dictatorship would be ok if the dictator was competent, but current era NASCAR has ruined what was built.

    It is so aggravating that NASCAR insults the intelligence of its fans with fake cautions and engineered close finishes. Do they thin their fan base is too stupid to enjoy and appreciate the complexities of a true race, without throwing fake cautions to tighten the field and cause a stupid destruction derby?

  32. edward says:

    What Nonsense
    OK, this column absolutely makes no sense although I still love the entertainment value of it. They were indeed fined for speech. It’s called censorship. Censorship is the suppression of speech or deletion of communicative material which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient to the government or media organizations as determined by a censor. It of course comes in numerous forms like moral, military, political, religious, creative, etc. So I was wondering whom the NASCAR censor might be. This form of censorship of NASCAR of prevention of attention failed miserably. Moral censorship is the removal of materials that are obscene or otherwise considered morally questionable. Hmmm, that has Brian France written all over it. NASCAR censorship occurs when officials and media hold back information from the fans whom they say love to death. Corporate censorship is the process by which editors in corporate media outlets intervene to disrupt the publishing of information that portrays their business or business partners in a negative light. There are no particular forums from which to express speech. First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law infringing on the Freedom of speech.
    Free speech zones are areas set aside in public places for drivers to exercise their right of freedom of speech as an exercise of what is commonly called “TPM” or “time, place, manner” regulation of speech and that would just be so ridiculous. Just imagine how many thousands of fans would be in violation and no one in the grandstands but instead having a hootenanny in the free speech zone. That would just be silly although hilarious. Agree with NASCAR’s stance as you may but they did not write the Constitution. I personally can’t wait for the next hootenanny.

  33. Kevin says:

    Don’t interview drivers as they are exiting their cars. Give them 15 minutes to cool off.

  34. T.C. says:

    Edward: Since you seem to think you are an expert on free speech, let me ask you this. If everything you say is true, why aren’t the NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL and NASCAR being sued for fining players for criticizing officials? Because according to you, they should have a case per Amendment 1 of the Constitution.

  35. Richard in N.C. says:

    I believe the 1st Amendment prohibits the government from restricting freedom of speech – and even that is not absolute. In the world of academia where freedom of expression would seem to be most prized, the conferences with which I am familiar provide for automatic fines or other discipline if a college coach criticizes officiating in a football or basketball game, regardless of whether the coach is correct or not.

    As much biased, negative press as NASCAR gets, it is a shame that NASCAR had to give the NASCAR bashers added ammunition.

  36. Mister F says:

    I don’t have enough information to take a side, but I do want to point out that the Constitution protects us from the government, not our (loosely-defined) employers.

  37. steve says:

    Edward: As someone who doesn’t play an attorney on TV, even I know the 1st Amendment applies to GOVERNMENT suppression of speech. There is nothing* that prohibits a private entity from doing what NASCAR did. This doesn’t mean NASCAR was smart in doing this but they certainly have the right to do it.

    * with minor carve outs for action deemed against public policy, such as punishing whistleblowers.

  38. Andrew says:

    Kind of sad how none of this would matter if we all really loved watchin!

  39. B.TN says:

    NASCAR IS WRONG ON THIS……………………
    DO THEY THINK THIS IS GETTING IN THEIR OWN POCKETS… ITS ALL ABOUT MONEY………………………………………..GREED WILL TAKE THEM DOWN……AND CHOKE NASCAR OUT IF NASCAR KEEPS BUTTING INTO THE DRIVERS………….. THE DRIVERS ARE ONLY TELLING THE TRUTH……I USED TO GO TO THE RACES AND WATCH EVERY SUNDAY, BUT NASCAR IS REALLY GOING TO FAR THIS YEAR……… I DON’T GO TO ANYMORE RACES AND I ONLY WATCH THE LAST 20 LAPS OF THE RACES WHEN I DO WATCH… NASCAR HAS GOTTEN TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOBORING………… FINING THESE DRIVERS FOR TELLING THE TRUTH…IS NOT RIGHT – - – WHAT ELSE IS NASCAR HIDING???????????????

  40. C.F. says:

    If that’s the case why does NASCAR put Kyle on the front page of their website bashing NASCAR’s ruling on the Brad/Carl issue?

    http://www.nascar.com/video/cup/2010/tnt/kyles_corner/07/27/cup_poc2_kyle.nascar/index.html

  41. Stacy says:

    What if T.C was fined 1 cent for writing this article.

  42. Carrie says:

    Something the protestors seem to not be considering in this equation is this: what would happen in real life? What would happen in Denny Hamlin worked for Joe Gibbs Construction and started started raving to the media about injustices and bad decisions his company made? Forget being fined. He wouldn’t have a job.

    Unless you own the business you work for, I bet there is a clause in your employment paperwork that says you cannot disparage the company in the media or you’ll face firing.

  43. windowlicker says:

    Comment #34: You beat me to it T.C.

  44. Neon says:

    Ok, by now I hope all you TNI bloggers know that the success of TNI depends on the anonymity of both Journo and TC, right? That secret is what “makes” this site the “go to” for not only fans, but evidently NASCAR itself. Word has it that NASCAR officials monitored this particular post with a very keen interest to learn how to best control the perception between drivers, sponsors, NASCAR itself and fans alike.

    So, instead of secretly levying fines on drivers for derogatory remarks “against” the sanctioning body, NASCAR will do a 180. Have you heard about this? You know how drivers sponsored by Coke, Vitamin Water, Gatorade, or NOS get credit each time they are witnessed taking a “swig” on camera? Well the new mandate just out today is NASCAR will issue standard drink bottles inscribed w/ the official “I love NASCAR” logos and…you guessed it. For every sip on camera, NASCAR will issue bonuses (kind of anti-secret-fines) for do-gooder drivers.

  45. MS says:

    Newman is one of the most intelligent, best educated guys out there. Fine him?? The dolts should be PAYING HIM consulting fees!!

  46. GJMystery says:

    I have been a fan of Racing since the 60′s, NASCAR when I had to kick my dad off the TV when there were just a few televised races a year…

    I have not watched a Race on TV for a while now… Live a few miles from the Charlotte Motor Speedway and Have gone to one of the 2 races this year and was disappointed again. NASCAR Needs the cautions to bunch them back up and race a little.

    I still love racing.. but follow people who actually race, F1, NHRA, NMRA, and the locals where the still cuss and swear and throw a fit without fear of fines. What ever happened to “Thats Racin”.

    All of the cars being the same is the failure, Has NASCAR not learned anything from the past. IROC went down the tubes because no one want to see a bunch of Camaros running around a track. What is the difference now. Learn how to tweak a little more speed out of the engine. Next week the rules change and you get fined, Learn how to tweak the suspension,,,, OOOPS here goes another fine.

    LET THEM RACE BOTH ON THE TRACK AND IN THE GARAGE!!!

    THATS RACIN and I miss it. And then they will have little to Gripe about.

    NASCAR May Die but Racing ……Never!

  47. sue says:

    I do believe that Nascar has the right to fine these millionaires the paultry sum of $50,000 or such but I also believe that Nascar is barking up the wrong tree.
    Its all about perception. When Nascar let certain cars wait 45 minutes for the shocks to go down after they came in 1st and 2nd two weeks in a row then tells them don’t do it again w/o penalty fans were lost. When a car is within specs but is told not to ever bring that car to the track again fans are lost. Mysterious debris cautions, fans were lost. Going from an exciting season opener at Daytona with new fans on board then heading to Fontana the next week believe me fans were lost. When certain teams are fined and others aren’t w/o explanation fans are lost. When Chicagoland wants you to pay $140.00 for Cup pole day along with the NW race fans are lost. When hotels that normally charge under $100.00 per night now are charging double or triple with a 2 or 3 night minimum fans are lost. Not having a set time or channel to go to on tv fans are lost. Seeing the same team win over and over again fans were lost.

    I understand why fans were lost last year but this year has been some of the most exciting racing Nascar has ever seen. Nascar, in my opinion made many mistakes in the past few years that has lost the fans. But from the drivers to the media (since most of them drink the Nascar koolaid) the constant bashing must stop. If you don’t like Nascar get out. I didn’t travel to Indy this year due to the economy and many folks are doing the same. But Nascar has to get its own house in order too.

  48. Blu says:

    I so agree with B.TN,nascar is losing their ratings for two very
    good reasons.One, people just can’t afford going to the tracks
    anymore.Second,why watch it on cable,years ago Fox always
    carried it. I myself have been a nascar fan for 25 years. Will never
    go to another track,and will not watch it on tv anymore,so sick of
    the last 5 years,everything is Jimmie Johnson. I am at the point
    of being bored by it all.The days of Dale Sr.and “true” racing with all the excitment and point systems. Sad to see the empire fall to
    wayside and become NOTHING.

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