For those of you who’ve been lost in the spectral abyss of your divergent reality (such as it is) or too caught up in the secular notions of your half-poetic intellect, there was a little bit of argy-bargy at the end of the previous weekend’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway that significantly and deliberately manipulated who qualified for the Chase and who did not.
A quick summary. With Ryan Newman leading at lap 10 and headed for a win that would put him into the Chase, and leave Michael Waltrip Racing diver Martin Truex Jr on the outside looking in, Ty Norris, MWR’s Executive VP & GM, and also spotter for Brian Vicker’s #55 Aaron’s Toyota, came up with a scheme at the spur of the moment to deny Newman a spot and get Truex in. Through radio communications, he got Clint Bowyer to “spin” out and bring out a caution. When the field reset for the restart, Newman came out in 5th and was charging to regain the lead but not enough laps remained….and that’s where the smoking gun of this conspiracy was found. Norris also got Vickers to come in for a pit stop under green because *cough cough* a tire was going down….and that moved Truex up another spot to ensure he finished in the Chase.
The only thing that was going down was a shady deal to manipulate the results of a race.
NASCAR took all the evidence at hand and ruled swiftly and with severity. First they docked all 3 MWR teams, Bowyer, Truex & Vickers, 50 driver and 50 owner points. This dropped Bowyer from 3rd to 8th, and bumped Truex out the Chase and put Newman back in as the wildcard based on his win at The Brickyard. NASCAR then fined MWR $300,000. They suspended Ty Norris from NASCAR indefinitely. All three crew chiefs were placed on Probation ’til the end of the season.
That seemed to be the end of it.
BUT….some reporters from the AP had some additional information to offer. Their journalism revealed that while the MWR deal was going down, and deal was being made between Penske Motorsports and Front Row Racing to alter and affect where Joey Logano finished in the points. Radio chatter between the two teams revealed an attempt to get Front Row driver David Gillillillilillilland to deliberately slow down and give let Joey Logano pass to just enough points to qualify him for the Chase instead of Jeff Gordon who finished the race without enough points to qualify had none of these deal had gone down.
NASCAR took almost all week to sort out the Penske/Front Row Deal. And while they didn’t find it as egregious as what MWR pulled, they did feel there was plenty of smoke. Friday, just before qualifying was to start for today’s GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, they made an unprecedented ruling. First, they placed Penske Racing and Front Row Motorsports on probation for the remainder of the season. And then, in an earth-shattering move, they placed Jeff Gordon ((the schlemazel in all these shenanigans)) into the Chase as the 13th driver.
All things considered, with the time available to them it was probably the best NASCAR could have done, based on all the scenarios that played out. Personally, I would have dropped both Bowyer and Logano from the Chase, but under the circumstances NASCAR faced, their rulings were essentially fair and should send a clear message to the teams and drivers that no more of this foolishness will be tolerated. ((It should be noted, and might as well note it here, that Matt Kenseth won the rain-delayed GEICO 400 at Chicagoland—his 6th win of the season and has extended his lead in the Chase–and that none of the drivers in the top 5 were in anyway involved in, not benefited from, the race-fixing scandal))
What NASCAR wants, is what we all want. Integrity, great racing and sportsmanship. They want the the drivers at all teams, in all cars, racing for the win. Every man and women for themselves. They want every driver racing furiously, all out! Full stop! (take a drink)
As with all rules in NASCAR, change is a process of evolution and fine-tuning based on contingencies that arise. And while it easy in hindsight to say that it’s no surprise that teams tried to manipulate the outcome of a qualifying race with all the cash, fame, fortune, fabulous prizes ((and did I mention CASH???)) on the line; the simple fact of the matter is that this, for lack of a better term, match-fixing conspiracy, surprised all of us.
NASCAR seemed more immune to this sort of thing than a lot of sports. Soccer, my other passion, has had more than it’s share of match-fixing conspiracies. One of the more recent ones involved several of the top Turkish teams, Beşiktaş and Fenerbahçe. Several principles and players for those teams were indicted and convicted by Turkish courts over match fixing. Sanctions were also thrown down by the Turkish Football Association….but…the TFA didn’t impose stiff enough regulations and Besiktas and Fenerbahçe did not face relegation. UEFA and FIFA then came down hard. They told the TFA if they didn’t impose tougher sanctions of Besiktas and Fenerbahçe, that those team would be banned from UEFA and international competition. Beşiktaş and Fenerbahçe took that to The Court of Arbitartion for Sport (CAS), but lost their case. Thus Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş were removed from this year’s Europa League competition and replaced by APOEL Nicosia, and Tromsø.
NASCAR only dropped Truex from the Chase. But it could very well have dropped both Clint Bowyer and Joey Logano as well. And it makes me wonder what would have happened if they had. NASCAR has never had a case brought before The Court of Arbitration for Sport. It would be interesting see how THAT would turn out….NASCAR vs. Michael Waltrip Racing…or something like that.
I wonder how a bit or argy-bargy over 12-4-A — Actions Detrimental to Stock Car Auto Racing, would play out in the hallowed halls located at Avenue de Beaumont 2, CH-1012, Lausanne, Switzerland. WE never expected the exceptional circumstance of the past week in NASCAR….so maybe someday it just might come to an arbitration hearing in Lausanne with Mike Helton, Ryan Pemberton, Brian France all trekking over to Switzerland. Gentlemen, START YOUR ENGINES!!!
Pretty much says it all. Picture being worth a thousand fackin’ words and all that. Chelsea without Rooney. Everton without Fellaini. ((Meanwhilst Rooney with Fellaini notched a goal at the 81st minute to seal ManU(re)’s early morning (here in the USA) win over Crystal Palace.))
Chelsea was the better team for most of the game and should have won this with ease. But the better team on the day doesn’t always win. Steven Naismith put one in the back of the net. Eto’o and Torres and company did not.
Scoreboard, baby and all that.
John Obi Mikel was stalwart in mid-field. But our stalwartness escaped us in other areas. We can’t allow that to happen tomorrow, or again.
Tomorrow is our opening Champions League group stage tilt with Basel at The Bridge.
So……onward then. Furious, All-Out!! Full Stop!