A Good Mood Spoiled
I bid you welcome gentle readers, and that of course includes the lucky person assigned to check out the words here for NASCAR today. Texas is now history and we move on to ISM, which strangely enough is located exactly where Phoenix International Raceway was last year. I remember when that happened at Charlotte years back. A track called Lowe’s suddenly appeared where good old Charlotte Motor Speedway had been for years. It didn’t last all that long and the Queen’s City welcomed CMS back to its former grounds. It also happened to Sears Point… or Sonoma if you’re so inclined. Both fell out of fashion and the twisting, turning track in wine country became Infineon Raceway, which I usually referred to as “Inferior Raceway” because my alter-ego, the Lady in Black has a word association dysfunction.
Much ado about nothing I suppose, but seriously, there isn’t much to talk about right now, and will be even less in a couple of weeks. As you can probably discern from my fun-poking at changing the perfectly good name of an old and revered track for money, I’m not a fan, and it has nothing to do with change. It has everything to do with tradition! Some of you remember tradition; for years NASCAR racing was built on it… until one day Mike Helton told us that they were going to “Modernize tradition.” Huh? That’s an oxymoron right there, every bit as much as “Jumbo shrimp” or “Military intelligence.”
The words modern and tradition have definitions that are polar opposites one to the other… with one possible exception. In this short literary effort we’re going to learn how a modern young racer goes about fitting into the racing tradition. Yeah, I know I took the long way around to get to the topic, but the scenery wasn’t all that bad and it’s a nice day for a drive.
Over the summer, a friend and colleague introduced me to a young man from neighboring South Carolina named Trevor Rizzo. Trevor is 17 and a senior in high school this year… and he has also been driving some sort of race car since the age of six. Currently, he drives the #8 car in the Late Model Division at . Among his endearing qualities are humility and politeness. Imagine a driver that apologizes to his crew, claiming that the car could have finished better if the driver had not made mistakes. Imagine a youth in his teens that not only knows the words please, thank you and you’re welcome, but uses them consistently, along with “Sir” and “Ma’am.” That’s Trevor!
A good friend of mine, Tim Leeming, who also writes on occasion for young’n that I’ve watched go from boyhood to manhood, heard his voice change and saw his first chin hairs… Cody Dinsmore, my neighbor on the other side of a mountain or two., has been in radio for much of his adult life. He’s done a show on Thursday evenings for Ghost Tracks and Legends for a couple years now and just recently started up a new Tuesday night show called “The Racing Spotlight” on which he interviews young up and coming drivers from here, there and everywhere. Of course, when he told me about the new show, I immediately gave him Trevor’s name and contact information. This past Tuesday, Trevor was Tim’s guest on , which comes to you through the auspices of Spreaker.com You can hear the interview at the link. Trevor’s portion is the first half-hour, and what follows is conversation with another
Give the show a listen if you’re so inclined. I believe you’ll be as impressed as I have been. Then… though the official racing season is over at Myrtle Beach, the following two weekends will see what are called the “Myrtle Beach 250” on November 10 and the “Myrtle Beach 400” on November 17. You’ll hear Trevor tell more about them on the podcast, or you can read about them at the Myrtle Beach link well above.
…And, just when I thought I’d written an upbeat, pleasant column, the Wednesday wrecking crew from NASCAR came down with the weekly penalties, which include 20 points each for Ryan Blaney and Erik Jones and loss of a car chief for two weeks. Crew chiefs were each fined $50,000.
Their sins were as follows: Blaney - door front crush panel violation as the filler panels didn't remain permanently attached, and Jones - package tray violation. (I can’t even tell you what that is) Both drivers were already eliminated from the “playoffs.”
Ah, but there’s one more… Texas winner Kevin Harvick was found to have a spoiler not in compliance with NASCAR rules. Harvick was docked 40 points, crew chief Rodney Childers and car chief Robert Smith were each suspended for the last two races of the season, and Childers was fined $75,000. Tony Gibson will take over crew chief duties at Phoenix and Homestead. Further, though we’re not supposed to use the word “Encumbered” any more, the win at Texas IS encumbered, as in it doesn’t count for the lock-in to Homestead. Stewart-Haas Racing will not appeal the penalty.
OK, I get it… this is NASCAR’s game, played with their ball and bat and rules are rules and must be adhered to. But that’s where my understanding ends! What other sport in the world plays whatever their expertise might be on Sunday, declares a winner, awards a trophy and then turns around and disavows their own decision three days later? Short of some Olympian failing a drug test, shenanigans such as that just don’t happen. The cars are inspected at least 2 times AT THE TRACK and sometimes 3, depending on the schedule. The #4 passed each of them, as did the other two. If something is so minute that it takes a total teardown and three days to find it, those rules are FAR too picky!
I’m not saying they have to change the rules, but common sense… which isn’t as common as it used to be… says that Race Day is Race Day. If nothing is found at the track to disqualify a car or driver, then the win stands… unencumbered. This business of taking cars to their torture chamber aka R&D Center and examining everything under a microscope is beyond ridiculous! They’ve already been examined several times with the latest and greatest laser measurement system money can buy.
The following is a tweet by Mark Martin Wednesday night on Twitter. Someone at NASCAR needs to listen to Mark’s voice of reason.
“Most fans are like me. We want to know what was done to the cars to make them fail inspection. All this mystery shit just pisses people off.”
Of course, I was one of the hundreds that responded to Mark, and this was my comment:
“Thank you Mark! That is just what I wanted to say! We all want to SEE what was illegal; not just hear it was from Scott Miller! They used to confiscate illegal parts and display them on a table of shame for everyone to see. All cloak & dagger now.”
And a response from Mark Martin:
“This doesn’t tell fans what was done. Per the NASCAR penalty report, the team violated section 20.4.12.a&b, which relates to spoilers. The language of the rule states “vehicle must conform to the CAD file and drawing. Spoiler must be used exactly as supplied from the manufacturer.”
And then there’s this, contributed to the conversation by Kenny Wallace:
“Some of you are going off subject with the Kevin Harvick penalty today… The subject is NOT the ruling… The subject is HOW WRONG it is to always announce the win was NOT legal 3 DAYS LATER… The win MUST be official 2 hours after the race…”
In short… which I never am… NASCAR has a sophisticated and expensive measurement system at every track. All vehicles are inspected numerous times. The day of the race is known as RACE DAY, and that is where it should end. When the cars leave the track on race day, the winner is known to one and all. Period! End the race on RACE DAY!
Now your scribe would like to pose a question. Just suppose that what happened at Texas were to happen at Homestead. All of the pomp and circumstance of crowning a Champion has taken place; all of the publicity has been issued and read… then on Wednesday, the new Champion is found to have an L-1 penalty assessed by NASCAR. Talk about an “Oh Sh*t” moment! Does NASCAR then announce that the Championship has been stripped from the driver already crowned Champion? If they don’t, then they are guilty of picking and choosing which of their own penalties to enforce and when.
This crap did NOT happen under the “rule” of anyone named Bill, and it should not be happening today. All races should end on Race Day. Big Bill always felt that folks at the track should know the winner of the race before ever leaving the race track. Today, that would extend to folks watching at home or wherever else the race is viewed. If that 360-degree laser examiner can’t find anything wrong, then the crew chief wins. Deal with it NASCAR. What you’re doing now is making a laughing stock out of teams, drivers and fans alike… and making you look the fool.
On that note, let’s hear some more notes… on our Classic Country Closeout. This week we’re visiting the Grand Ole Opry, with Roy Acuff, June Carter, Little Jimmy Dickens and many more. Nothing not to like there!
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!