Posted in What I know.

The Week That Was

This was written last night, but due to technical difficulties with my internet, I was not able to post until today.

I have been trying all week to write something about all that happened last Saturday night at Richmond. I have gone back and forth on several of the issues that have arisen over the past few days. I am still not sure if this is really happening or we are all part of an elaborate “catfish” scheme. Either way, as a NASCAR fan, the events of this past week have made me think about the sport I love.

On Saturday night at Richmond, the field of 12 was set. Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon who had been on the outside looking in. Newman was leading the race with Clint Bowyer spun out very late in the race. Because of this spin, Carl Edwards took the lead and well, Newman along with Gordon was out and Martin Truex Jr. was in. As well all know, accusations flew that Clint Bowyer spun intentionally in order to help his teammate get into the Chase. Also afoot were Clint and Brian Vickers pitted late which allowed Lagano to get a few more spots and get a spot in the Chase. Monday NASCAR announced penalties for MWR. Truex was out and Newman was permitted his rightful spot into the Chase. Also Clint, Brian, and Martin were docked 50 driver points. These deductions were applied after the Richmond race, not before the reset. This is the reason Truex was no longer in the Chase and Newman was in. I thought NASCAR got part of this right. I had issues with allowing Clint Bowyer to remain in the Chase. He was the one who intentionally spun out and started this brouhaha. I know he had already earned his spot in the Chase prior to Richmond. I get that. But NASCAR essentially was saying, we know something happened, but without clear and definite evidence we don’t want to go down this road. If you wanted to penalize Clint, moved him to the 12th spot in the Chase and move everyone behind him up one spot. Make him start at the bottom. Jeff Gordon, in my, opinion on Monday, should have been allowed to be a driver in the Chase. Prior to all the shenanigans (this was the word of the week), he had earned his spot. To put it bluntly, he got screwed! I know he didn’t win a race and yes he was on the outside looking in, but he busted his tail on Saturday to get where he needed to get into the Chase. But due to others who wanted to manipulate the outcome, he was out!

Just when I thought all of this was over and we could get to talking about the start of the Chase, news came out there was shenanigans afoot between Joey Lagano and David Gilliland’s teams. I thought here we go again. Unfortunately, they didn’t get a chance to do it. It was at this point the infamous spun occurred on the track. In an unprecedented move by NASCAR, it was announced today Jeff Gordon would be the 13th driver in the Chase. That’s right. I am glad NASCAR made this decision, a few days too late, but nonetheless the right decision.

I love this sport. I love watching these amazing drivers do things on a race track that keep me coming back week after week, year after year. But as a long time fan, I am disappointed and angry. Members of three organizations chose, that’s chose, to cheat. They chose to manipulate the outcome of the race as well as the championship. I can’t even begin to understand the type of pressure drivers and race teams are under trying to get into the Chase each and every year. There are millions of dollars at stake for everyone involved from drivers to owners to sponsors and even to the upper echelon of NASCAR. But when the integrity of the sport is placed in jeopardy, those at NASCAR need to make a stand. There is a meeting scheduled at the track tomorrow where NASCAR will what I assume is a come to Jesus meeting for the drivers and teams. Mr. France needs to put it in clear concise words, this kind of behavior will not be tolerated. And if this kind of behavior happens again, you are out of this sport. That’s what I believe should happen to those who try this again. I felt cheated and betrayed as a fan. I am now looking at the sport I love differently. I know drivers allow teammates or other drivers to pass them to lead a lap or give them a spot ahead of them to get a point. I get that. Drivers who are laps down allow the leaders to pass them because they are faster. But this was different, there blatant manipulation happening on the track. That to me is unacceptable. Now when a driver spins by him or herself, am I going to wonder is it a legitimate spin or is it intentionally?

I am hoping after everything is decided at Homestead in November, NASCAR takes a good hard look at what happened in Richmond. Does the pressure of the Chase cultivate this type of manipulation? Should the Chase be tweaked again in order to prevent this type of cheating from happening again? When

I have been trying all week to write something about all that happened last Saturday night at Richmond. I have gone back and forth on several of the issues that have arisen over the past few days. I am still not sure if this is really happening or we are all part of an elaborate “catfish” scheme. Either way, as a NASCAR fan, the events of this past week have made me think about the sport I love.

On Saturday night at Richmond, the field of 12 was set. Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon who had been on the outside looking in. Newman was leading the race with Clint Bowyer spun out very late in the race. Because of this spin, Carl Edwards took the lead and well, Newman along with Gordon was out and Martin Truex Jr. was in. As well all know, accusations flew that Clint Bowyer spun intentionally in order to help his teammate get into the Chase. Also afoot were Clint and Brian Vickers pitted late which allowed Lagano to get a few more spots and get a spot in the Chase. Monday NASCAR announced penalties for MWR. Truex was out and Newman was permitted his rightful spot into the Chase. Also Clint, Brian, and Martin were docked 50 driver points. These deductions were applied after the Richmond race, not before the reset. This is the reason Truex was no longer in the Chase and Newman was in. I thought NASCAR got part of this right. I had issues with allowing Clint Bowyer to remain in the Chase. He was the one who intentionally spun out and started this brouhaha. I know he had already earned his spot in the Chase prior to Richmond. I get that. But NASCAR essentially was saying, we know something happened, but without clear and definite evidence we don’t want to go down this road. If you wanted to penalize Clint, moved him to the 12th spot in the Chase and move everyone behind him up one spot. Make him start at the bottom. Jeff Gordon, in my, opinion on Monday, should have been allowed to be a driver in the Chase. Prior to all the shenanigans (this was the word of the week), he had earned his spot. To put it bluntly, he got screwed! I know he didn’t win a race and yes he was on the outside looking in, but he busted his tail on Saturday to get where he needed to get into the Chase. But due to others who wanted to manipulate the outcome, he was out!

Just when I thought all of this was over and we could get to talking about the start of the Chase, news came out there was shenanigans afoot between Joey Lagano and David Gilliland’s teams. I thought here we go again. Unfortunately, they didn’t get a chance to do it. It was at this point the infamous spun occurred on the track. In an unprecedented move by NASCAR, it was announced today Jeff Gordon would be the 13th driver in the Chase. That’s right. I am glad NASCAR made this decision, a few days too late, but nonetheless the right decision.

I love this sport. I love watching these amazing drivers do things on a race track that keep me coming back week after week, year after year. But as a long time fan, I am disappointed and angry. Members of three organizations chose, that’s chose, to cheat. They chose to manipulate the outcome of the race as well as the championship. I can’t even begin to understand the type of pressure drivers and race teams are under trying to get into the Chase each and every year. There are millions of dollars at stake for everyone involved from drivers to owners to sponsors and even to the upper echelon of NASCAR. But when the integrity of the sport is placed in jeopardy, those at NASCAR need to make a stand. There is a meeting scheduled at the track tomorrow where NASCAR will what I assume is a come to Jesus meeting for the drivers and teams. Mr. France needs to put it in clear concise words, this kind of behavior will not be tolerated. And if this kind of behavior happens again, you are out of this sport. That’s what I believe should happen to those who try this again. I felt cheated and betrayed as a fan. I am now looking at the sport I love differently. I know drivers allow teammates or other drivers to pass them to lead a lap or give them a spot ahead of them to get a point. I get that. Drivers who are laps down allow the leaders to pass them because they are faster. But this was different, there blatant manipulation happening on the track. That to me is unacceptable. Now when a driver spins by him or herself, am I going to wonder is it a legitimate spin or is it intentionally?

I am hoping after everything is decided at Homestead in November, NASCAR takes a good hard look at what happened NASCAR announced the two wild card positions I wasn’t too thrilled. I liked the fact there were just 10 drivers in the Chase. Maybe that’s what NASCAR should do. If you are in the Top 10 you are in and no wild cards! That’s it. Keep the bonus points for the wins. Yes, the battle for the wild card keeps me interested late in the year, but did it cause unintended consequences? Should they go back to the old system? The one, they still use in the Truck and Nationwide series’. Since they changed the point system, the points standings are competitive and close. It is fun to watch every week to see who is leading and who is battling their way to get to the top. I know NASCAR wants to keep fans interested once football season starts. But is it worth it, if it puts NASCAR’s integrity in jeopardy?

I want to believe those who run the sport will take a serious look at what a few individuals have done to the integrity of the sport. I am still going to watch every week. I can’t just abandon a great sport just because of a few individuals. NASCAR is an exciting sport and these drivers are some of the best athletes out there. But if NASCAR doesn’t reign in this kind of behavior, I don’t know if I can continue to watch.

Some final thoughts…

  • I am excited about the fact that Kurt Busch has made  the Chase. Furniture Row Racing is a one car team based in Denver, Colorado. It has to be difficult not to be in the heart of NASCAR country in North Carolina. FRR has proven they can be successful. Kurt Busch has worked all season long to get into the Chase and I for one am looking forward to watching him in the next 10 races. I know FRR is disappointed Kurt will be leaving at the end of the year to head for Stewart Haas Racing.  Considering where Kurt was two years ago, this is definitely a one of the      best comeback stories this year.
  • I feel bad for Martin Truex Jr. I know it’s not fair.  His team wanted to get him into the race, but in the end it has to end with the driver. Martin did what he could for the first 26 races to put      himself in a place to get into the Chase. But in the end, he is out. Plain and simple.
  • I have lost respect for Michael Waltrip. I just  finished watching the Truck race. I can’t listen to him. He has lost credibility in my eyes. How can I respect his analysis of the sport, when I know what happened? As I am in the middle of typing this post, Fox Sports Live on FS1 comes on. The lead story, NASCAR. They go to the Truck race broadcast crew which includes no other than Michael Waltrip. Really? I know they are all trying to be professional, but for me I just don’t see how I can believe anything he says. I found myself yelling at the television. That’s how angry I am at all of this. Sorry, it’s the way I feel.
  • Update–NASCAR had a meeting with drivers, owners, and crew chiefs today.  Here’s what came out of the meeting.  Drivers/teams should give 100% in the race.  Only one spotter for each team will be allowed up on the spotter’s stand.  No more digital radios.  Spotters can use two analog radios, scanners, & Fan Views.  A video camera will installed on the spotters’ stand. NASCAR will be monitoring the spotter’s stand.  If competitors who try to “artificially alter” the race will be penalized which can include, but not limited to “disqualifcationa dn/or loss of finishing points and/or fines and/or loss of points and /or suspension and/or probration to any an all members of the teams, incluing any beneficiaries of the prohibited actions.

The Chase…in case of those you didn’t know the Chase begins Sunday in Chicago. I am not sure who I will be rooting for this year. My driver is currently sidelined. I am not worried though, he will be back in 2014. Just remember #SmokeWillRise. You have to look at Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, and Kyle Busch. Between these three drivers you have 8 wins. Even though these guys have this many wins between them, you can’t count any of the other drivers. One just has to look at 2011. No one really thought Tony had a chance. He went on a tear that year, won 5 races and took the championship! I hope once the green flag falls on Sunday, we can put all this controversy behind us and concentrate on the racing. Good luck to all the racers, even though I hope some have a not so good Chase.

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