Is It Time To Start Taking Away Wins?

NASCAR issued the inaugural fines of the season on Tuesday – in fact they were the inaugural fines for a newish team too. If you missed the penalty announcement or the act itself, NASCAR found:

The No. 15 truck driven by Michael Waltrip was to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-J (any determination by NASCAR Officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20B-3.1.2E (rear spoiler did not meet specifications in post-race inspection) of the 2011 NASCAR Rule Book. As a result, crew chief Doug Howe has been fined $25,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31. Owner Billy Ballew has been penalized with the loss of 25 championship owner points.

This of course is for the spoiler “issue” the team had toward the end of Waltrip’s emotional Daytona win. After initially saying it looked like a part failure, NASCAR apparently decided something different because they don’t generally issue fines for part failures – and if they do the team generally appeals.

Now in the interest of fairness how do you award a win to a driver or team that is found to have been in violation of the rules at the time of that win?

The NCAA certainly has a take on that. Ask USC. NASCAR though never really has been in the business of taking wins away from drivers who fail post-race inspections. They see it as a matter of a team deciding to push the envelope and a driver not necessarily being involved. Why punish the driver for an action of the team?

The argument though runs into trouble because the driver is ultimately given an unfair advantage over a competitor. In the Michael Waltrip spoiler situation, Elliott Sadler said in the post-race:

“I mean, it definitely helps his truck as far as drag. When he pulled out, he went by me. I was like, ‘Wow, he’s fast.’ I tried to side draft off of him and I couldn’t… It definitely helped him.

Though he concedes that he thinks Waltrip would have won anyway, who knows? And shouldn’t it say something that NASCAR likely would have black flagged the #15 if this had happened on lap 10 as opposed to the last lap? I’m not really sure how many of you feel about this but I have a lot issues with it.

Lately NASCAR’s been stepping up the point and monetary fines given to teams found to have violated the rulebook. In the last several seasons record fines have been doled out. The thing is, if NASCAR really wants for teams to play by the rules they need to give them incentive to do so. Taking a win or two away from drivers whose teams don’t follow the letter of the law will send that message.

I have a feeling that won’t be happening in the near term though.

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25 Responses to “Is It Time To Start Taking Away Wins?”

  1. Joe says:

    Yes. In the MW case the spoiler had *something* happen to it and given that the truck could not pass post-race inspection its my opnion that shouldve been an instant DQ. If the truck were somehow damaged in a wreck and that happened as a result of the wreck then obviously you have to take that into consideration when dealing with it.

    But we know why they wont. bad PR for: NASCAR, the sponsor(s), the manufacturer and the driver. could you imagine NASCAR having to take away one of Jimmie Johnson’s wins during the chase and end up costing him the title? Hell people STILL go on about Mark Martin losing the title to Dale Earnhardt due to the penalty he got

  2. Woogeroo says:

    I’m with you, if it had happened on lap 10, they woulda black flagged him.

    I wonder if they were using some kinda material that flexed under the air pressure of green flag conditions to move the spoiler back a little farther or something? I’m guessing whatever it was it finally let go and NASCAR was all

    “hmnnnn….?”

    Smokey Yunick said no sanctioning body in racing would ever take a win away because it looks bad, etc.. They like the publicity with the winner in victory lane and all of that.

    NASCAR is a business and it has to keep lots of sponsors and diverse groups of people happy, so I don’t see wins being taken away happening either.

    -W

  3. Bristol_B says:

    1) IMO, Waltrip should have been black flagged and therefore not eligible for the win.
    2) Aren’t there inspectors checking the spoilers immediately following the race? If so, why wasn’t the infraction called at that point?

  4. Loren says:

    I think the current rules and enforcements are fine. I don’t see a need for any changes. Under the present points system, 25 points is pretty hefty but probably fair.

  5. Neon says:

    It would have been very easy and cut-n-dried to take the win away from MW. NASCAR had plenty of opportunity on the cool down lap to take a deep breath and make that easy call. No different that taking Regan Smith’s Dega win or Hamlin’s shootout win for going below the yellow line. IMO, NASCAR, in this case, let the 10 year anniversary-Dale-MW-500-emotion make the “no-call”.

    Now answer me this. Last year NASCAR does not take the win away from Kyle Busch in the Talladega truck race when he clearly was not forced below the yellow line by Almirola(great save, yes, but not forced down). Yet they do take the win from Hamlin in this years Bud Shootout for passing below they yellow line when he also was not forced there (as NASCAR rightly called it).

    I’m not a conspiracy theorist and do not think NASCAR rigs races per se. I do think, however, NASCAR makes a habit of inconsistent “situational calls” and those pesky phamton (or better termed “timely”) cautions just fuel the doubt.

  6. Craig says:

    That penalty is really a slap on the wrist for a team that is running a hodge poge of drivers this year. I still think it was a part failure, I don’t think they are smart enough to rig a spoiler to fall off on the last lap. There was enough talk though after the race that they had to do something.

  7. Zieke says:

    Hasn’t MWR been known for cheating? I think they need to be taught a lesson just like they did with Carl Long.

  8. jerseygirl says:

    NASCAR should have disallowed the win. They didn’t because it made such pretty PR for the Waltrip clan on the anniversary of Earnhardt’s death. What a bunch of ghouls – write book, win the truck race, have your brother in the booth to scream “Mikeeey” and cry in Victory Lane. It put the WWE or whatever wrestling calls itself these days to shame.

    Clearly the spoiler was down and clearly the truck would not pass post race inspection. NASCAR’s rules and enforcement of them are a joke.

  9. The Mad Man says:

    What happened is just another example of NASCAR’s inconsistency with enforcing their own rules. The spoiler broke loose before the finish line and he should’ve been black flagged. But no, because it was the 10th anniversary it was left to stand to help promote Waltrip’s book and try to sell a few more Dale Sr. souvenirs. But then that’s nothing new. When it serves NASCAR’s needs and greed, the rules will be bent to better serve them and generate headlines for them.

  10. Ric says:

    Saw the last half / third of the truck race. I think MW had a fast truck, and would probably have won if the spoiler didn’t fall. There was an inspector checking out the spoiler as soon as the truck came down pit road, you can see him radioing in what he saw. So NASCAR did look at it, and make a decision from what was known then.

    Yes, they would have black flagged him if it happened on lap 10. They would have black flagged him if it happened on lap 98, but it happened right before he crossed the finish line. From what I remember it happened right as MW was starting to slingshot around ES for the win.

    It’s one thing to take the win away before you get the win (Hamlin), it’s nothing thing to take the win away days later. We could have the winners circle on Wednesday after the race after all the cars / trucks have been inspected. But I don’t think too many people would go for that.

    I think 25 points under the new points system is pretty decent fine, that would be about 100 points under the old system. Which is in line with most penalties last year.

    Has it been said / rumored on what was done? Yes, half the spoiler fell flat but what was done illegally verses a parts failure?

  11. tom says:

    Well this is the same guy that had a fuel issue with his car the first time he came to Daytona as a car owner. Any one else see a pattern?

  12. T.C. says:

    Zieke: The truck Waltrip was driving wasn’t a MWR effort. It was Vision Aviation Racing (previously Billy Ballew Motorsports).

  13. Jamie says:

    It seems to me that what Nascar needs to, if they want to stop the cheating, is take away the win. Take away the pts too. All the points.
    But, maybe Nascar doesn’t want to stop the cheating all together?

  14. jamie says:

    you folks are forgetting the new point system. the rubber stamp 25k and 25 points is probably the equivilent to 100 points last year. that is a big penalty on the points side.

  15. DB says:

    Fair is fair, if Nascar can use video tape to decide where cars are at when a yellow flag comes out, and the PGA even listens to it’s own fans if they see a golfer commit an infraction on TV, why cant they make a call right after a race?

    They will continue to just slap hands and say “bad boy, dont do that again”. Im saying they did it on purpose, but ALL the equipment on the race vehicle must conform, before and after a race. Maybe the casual fans see something like this and dont think anything of it, but the long time well versed fan sees this another example of NASCAR’s “Do, and accept, as I say, not as I do”.

  16. D_Mays says:

    So many haters. Jeez I’d love to put you in those same shoes and see how you would feel about people calling you a cheater because half of your spoiler fell down on the last 200 yards of a race. Better yet, i’d love for alll you haters and NASCAR to provide information as to how a team that passed pre-practice, pre-qualifying, and post-qualifying inspection. Thats 3 times through the inspection line that truck was inspected by one of NASCAR’s finest and they saw nothing on the back of the truck that screamed “CHEATER”. Those guys had been bump drafting all night, and the back of his truck showed it when it was in victory lane afterwards, and you mean to tell me one of those major bumps couldnt’ have in some way caused a part failure? I don’t think some of you armchair racers realize how much downforce and pressure is put on those spoilers while going that fast at Daytona. Just because you dont’ like the guy doesn’t mean he’s a cheater, it wasn’t even his team you morons. You point your finger again and I’ll show you a mirror.

  17. Neon says:

    Intentional, or not, Nascar will continue to administer points penalties, monetary penalties and double secret probation…all after the fact. But folks, there is one reason NASCAR does not take the actual win away, once the car enters victory lane. PHOTOGRAPHS!

    NASCAR would never want an ordeal like USAC’s 1981 Indy 500 controversy between Mario Andretti vs Bobby Unser.

  18. Ric says:

    Neon: I remember that controversy, I seem to remember it going back and forth several times on who won, even went to the courts if I remember correctly. Seems like it was a year later before both sides were finished (got tired of) auguring over / appealing it.

  19. Dot Jones says:

    I’m curious as to why they are still penalizing with the “old points system” points penalty. Shouldn’t the points fine be adjusted too? Twenty-five points is a lot when the race winner only gets 40 something points.

  20. Michael in SoCal says:

    D_Mays – Right on, I’m with you! A part failure is a part failure. If the pre-race inspections didn’t catch it, it probably wasn’t intentional, same as I don’t think Clint Bowyer’s Loudon penalty was justified. If it passes pre-race inspection without something that blatantly alters the car during the race, it’s legal.

  21. KH says:

    I think there are actually two problems with the spoiler. First, it obviously failed. But the second is that NASCAR subsequently found that the spoiler itself did not meet tolerances (entire piece was not 3/16 inch thick…some areas were thinner). So now you have a real mess don’t you? Did the “thin” spoiler cause it to fail? To me a parts failure is one thing and deserves a certain penalty but when the part itself is suspect now you are introducing the possibility that the team knew they would get an advantage by using a non-conforming part. Now you are in a grey area so do you ratchet up the points penalty, increase the dollar amount of the fine, take the win or something else? In this case (because the part did not conform) I would let the win stand but award the owner and driver 0 points and $0 for the win. I would also take away any “perks” or additional awards from the win such as getting on a winners circle program (do they have that?) I would put the crew chief and owner on probation and any subsequent violation gets them a 3 race ban from being at the track. Personally, I want to leave the track knowing who won but I don’t want to find out on Tuesday that the car was illegal.

  22. Bobby#7Fan says:

    Take away the win, move everyone else up 1 spot. Take away ALL points from the race and don’t pay any purse money to the “winner” that cheated.

  23. red says:

    just this: if i am recalling correctly, bill france sr determined that nascar would not take away a win because he believed the fans had the right to leave the track knowing who won the race. did he always hold to that? no, but he never permitted a win to be taken away for a rules infraction. for a miscalled photo finish? yes. for a completely incorrect (& likely racist) finish? yes. but not for RULES infractions. those he felt should be handled through the penalty process.

    i may/may not agree with his thinking but i do believe this precedent came from the earliest years of the sport. doesn’t mean it can/shouldn’t be changed but it may provide some illumination on why it doesn’t happen.

  24. William G. says:

    Any other driver, any other day, and NASCAR wouldn’t have even scored the truck in first at the finish. It would have been Regan Smith @ Talladega all over again, and Elliot Sadler would have been in victory lane.

  25. Burton fan says:

    Jeff Burton got a win taken away from him in the Busch Series in the 90′s. The car didn’t pass post race inspection. I’ve read but can’t remember which race it was.

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