When NASCAR announced today that they were dropping the hammer on Clint Bowyer and his team for violations following his win at Loudon, they showed the teams and fans that nobody is above the law. Big team, small team, in the Chase, or just trying to qualify, the rules apply to everyone.
Both myself and Journo have not been afraid in the two-plus year existence of this blog to both criticize and defend NASCAR. If we’ve thought one way or the other, we’ve said so. And in the process, we’ve often been called homers, kool aid drinkers, and worse. One very glaring example of such a case where we were accused of being homers was the infamous Carl Long incident. Over and over we had commenters who claimed that NASCAR was trying to hold the little guy back, and that they never came down hard on big teams (search Carl Long in the search box to the right to see the many posts and comments). We gave example after example that proved otherwise, but it didn’t matter. “If the same would have happened to Jimmie Johnson, the penalty would have been less severe.” So I have one question haters, where are you today?
In a statement from the team, Richard Childress said the measurement in question was off by 60 thousandths of an inch. So in effect, NASCAR just poured gasoline on Bowyer’s Chase chances (with the 150 point penalty) over the thickness of 15 sheets of paper (Thanks Dr. Diandra). Still think NASCAR only bullies the little guys?
It was very interesting today to follow this story as it developed and all the discussion via Twitter. We had everyone from drivers, to the media and the fans reacting as this story happened. For those upset by the penalty, it appears that the overwhelming reason is that NASCAR wouldn’t give exact details about what was illegal. I did see too the theory that NASCAR was doing this to Bowyer just to help out Jimmie, which I think is great, because dropping Bowyer from second to twelfth in the standings doesn’t benefit Johnson in any way. He’s still 92 points out of the lead regardless. What I didn’t see were any comments about the fairness of the penalty based on the status of RCR as a team in the sport.
I also want to point out that this penalty was announced on the same day as a penalty levied against little Whitney Motorsports for engine valves that did not meet weight requirements. They were fined $50,000, lost their crew chief for six races, and lost 50 driver and owner points. I sure didn’t see anyone piling on NASCAR for penalizing this small team. And they claim that it wasn’t their fault because the engine was worked on by Arrington Engines, which sounds awfully familiar to the story Carl Long gave about his illegal engine. Yet still no comments. Why? Because it’s tough to hate on NASCAR for being unfair on a day when they showed that it doesn’t matter who breaks the rules.
Over the last few years we’ve been fed all types of reasons why something was illegal on a race car. We’ve heard rogue crew chiefs, rogue engine shops, and rogue crew members were to blame. But a rogue tow truck driver? Now that takes the cake.