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The onus is on NASCAR

September 9, 2013

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Photo courtesy NASCAR

 

Although I’m not a card-carrying member of the NASCAR Nation, I did watch Saturday night’s 400-lap contest at Richmond International Raceway to see who’d make it into the Chase for the Sprint Cup and who wouldn’t. I play no favorites, but certainly expected it to be interesting.

After all, Five-Time was starting from the rear, after Chandra Johnson delivered daughter No. 2 for Jimmie Johnson and he missed practice and qualifying on Friday. I also wanted to see who’d be No. 10 in the Chase and who would be those two Wild Card entries for the championship. And after this race, I just don’t think we can pin the title on Johnson and call him Six Time quite yet, even though JJ has a rep for running extremely well under pressure.

I did duck out for a bit to run some errands – living in Calif., it was still bright out when the race began. I kept up with the running following NASCAR’s leaderboard on the phone; after all, this was an important race.

As for what transpired at the end, I’m absolutely certain there was some hanky panicky going on at Michael Waltrip Racing. The video and its audio pretty much confirm that, as does NASCAR’s determination to investigate the finish of the race, something the sanctioning body said it would do a day later. The sound of the engine, the discussion between Clint Bowyer and his crew chief, and the nonchalant way Bowyer reacted when questioned after the race say a lot about all those wretched “team orders”.

As for Carl Edwards, who took the win after beating Paul Menard to the stripe on the final restart, well, I agree with Ryan Newman that the race restarts when the green flags fly, not when the leader crosses the stripe. The important thing, in this case, was that the front row went in the proper acceleration zone, something ol’ JJ hasn’t done a few times this year and has gotten called out for not doing. Let Cousin Carl keep the win and go into the Chase as the leader.

As for the contentious Wild Card and 10th place situation, while I truly think both Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon got robbed, the finish was the finish. I think NASCAR would do best to penalize MWR with fines – and not some $25,000 or even $100,000 wrist slap. Make it a big one, NASCAR, a fine that can serve as a deterrent for future team orders of this ilk.

Because we have the ability to listen in on crew chief-driver conversations these days, everyone knows what happens on the racetrack and what happens in the pits and on the spotters’ stands. That includes the sanctioning body. That NASCAR stated an intent to investigate the actions in this race is a good thing. I just want to see them act with the proper muscle and make sure this doesn’t continue to happen. We all know it’s been done in the past but not with these kinds of stakes involved.

By Anne Proffit

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