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NASCAR Hangs 'em High: But is Texas ruling another example of a Daytona double-standard of justice?

NASCAR Hangs 'em High: But is Texas ruling another example of a Daytona double-standard of justice?

Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski with President Obama at the White House Tuesday. A photo op lost amid tragedy and controversy? (Photo:Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   So much for that White House-NASCAR-Brad Keselowski goodwill tour.
   It wasn't looking good after Saturday night's pre-race inspection circus at Texas Motor Speedway.
   Now, with Monday's Boston Marathon tragedy and Wednesday's U.S. Senate rejection of new gun laws, plus Roger Penske's Texas rules controversy, Keselowski's championship trip to the White House Tuesday has been all but lost in the furor.
   NASCAR used the sledgehammer on Roger Penske's two teams, leaving Keselowski and Joey Logano without key crewmen for six weeks, pending appeals, and costing those two teams dearly in points, not to mention a pair of $100,000 fines.
   Considering how NASCAR reacted -- or rather didn't react -- in a similar situation last summer with the Rick Hendrick teams, one significant question at the moment is the appearance of a NASCAR double-standard of justice.
   While NASCAR actions against the Keselowski and Logano teams may be right according to the book, it would appear to demonstrate yet again that NASCAR execs either do not understand how the real world looks at this sport and its foibles and capriciousness, or simply don't care what anyone thinks of its judgments.  
   The NRA 500, just days before the key Congressional voting?
   Maybe it would be kind just to call NASCAR officials 'tone deaf.'


    Brad Keselowski (R) and crew chief Paul Wolfe. Wonder if Wolfe is wondering how Chad Knaus seems to get out of these jams? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR) 

  NASCAR had a no-call last year on Hendrick crew chief Chad Knaus and driver Jimmie Johnson for similar 'violations' of the 'spirit of the rules,' to use NASCAR's description of the Penske situation.
   That no-call, on rules tweaks very similar to what the sanctioning body is charging the Penske men with, wasn't the only questionable NASCAR decision, where one team was penalized severely while a Hendrick team was let off virtually scot-free for the same 'offense.' The Jeff Gordon-Clint Bowyer-Phoenix  controversy versus the Kyle Busch-Ron Hornaday- Texas controversy, one such example. Busch was suspended; Gordon got a slap on the wrist.
    But then executives in this sport's sanctioning body have never let inconsistencies, or even common sense, stand in the way of a decision. Certainly NASCAR execs are not easily embarrassed.
  The sport is still stinging from NASCAR's stunning $25,000 fine on Denny Hamlin a few weeks ago for mild criticism of the new 2013 stockers at Phoenix.
   It is still quite curious that at Texas it took NASCAR officials at least three days, and several earlier inspections, before finding whatever rear end parts they didn't like.  Did NASCAR inspectors really need to wait until only minutes before the start of the NRA 500 to pass judgment?
   Under Bill France Sr. and son Bill France Jr. NASCAR was described as a 'benevolent dictatorship.' The 'benevolence' may be hard to see these days.


  Martin Truex Jr., also hit hard by NASCAR penalties. Do NASCAR execs not realize how nonsensical some of their decisions may seem to those out in the real America? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   Penske offered no comment on the NASCAR judgment but said he would appeal, meaning crew chief Paul Wolfe will again be atop  Keselowski's pit box and crew chief Todd Gordon atop Logano's at least for this weekend's Kansas 400.
   Keselowski, after rallying to finish ninth in the Texas NRA 500, after having to  change rear ends, was caustic in comments about NASCAR. Keselowski, remember, has been fined by NASCAR several times for his comments over the past year or so...comments much milder than what he had to say in Fort Worth.
   And Keselowski just got chewed out big-time by NASCAR CEO Brian France at Daytona merely for offering some of his views about the sport...which, as the sport's newest champion, would  certainly seemly timely and appropriate.
   France this time decided not to penalize Keselowski specifically  for his Texas comments, though the suspension of his crew chief and engineering staff are certainly quite severe. The penalties, if upheld, as they almost certainly will be, could wind up costing both Keselowski and Logano shots at this year's championship. Penske's operation, though,  is probably strong enough to survive.
   It  was a busy afternoon for NASCAR's judges Wednesday: they also hit Texas runner-up Martin Truex Jr. with a six-point penalty for his car being too low in post-race inspection, and Truck champion Ron Hornaday was hit with a $25,000 fine and 25-point penalty for wrecking Darrell Wallace Jr. under caution during the weekend's Rockingham NC Truck race.

   Keselowski has already made his anger clear, calling NASCAR's actions "shameful," and said NASCAR officials had "targeted" the Penske teams for more than a week.
   Logano, his new teammate, and off to a hot start this season, charged from last to fifth in the Texas 500. He says the Penske operation has "a lot of depth," and will find good men to run the two teams, if the NASCAR penalties are upheld.
   "We can make adjustments to make sure we still run well," Logano said, with a nod toward Saturday's two top-10 runs. "We're proud of that effort in Texas, especially after all the adversity. It says a lot about our company."

  "Yep, Brad. Think it's Miller Time, for both of us...." "Hey, Mr. President, want to take a break and come to a NASCAR race?" (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   The official pronouncements from Daytona:

   "Paul Wolfe, crew chief for Brad Keselowski, and Todd Gordon, crew chief for Joey Logano, were each fined $100,000, suspended for six races, and placed on probation until Dec. 31. Both teams' car chiefs, Jerry Kelly and Raymond Fox, the teams' engineers, Brian Wilson and Samuel Stanley, along with team manager Travis Geisler, have also been suspended for six races and placed on probation until Dec. 31."
   The two teams were each docked 25 driver championship points and 25 owner points.
   "Both cars were found to be in violation of Sections 12-1; 12-4J and 20-12 (all suspension systems and components must be approved by NASCAR. Prior to being used in competition, all suspension systems and components must be submitted, in a completed form/assembly, to the office of the NASCAR Competition Administrator for consideration of approval and approved by NASCAR. Each such part may thereafter be used until NASCAR determines that such part is no longer eligible. All suspension fasteners and mounting hardware must be made of solid magnetic steel. All front end and rear end suspension mounts with mounting hardware assembled must have single round mounting holes that are the correct size for the fastener being used. All front end and rear end suspension mounts and mounting hardware must not allow movement or realignment of any suspension component beyond normal rotation or suspension travel.)"

      Truex's car "was found to have violated Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4J (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-12.8.1B (the car failed to meet the minimum front car heights during post-race inspection) of the 2013 rule book.
    "As a result of this violation, crew chief Chad Johnston has been fined $25,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until June 5. The team has also been docked six championship driver (Martin Truex Jr.) and six championship owner (Michael Waltrip) points."

  Waltrip himself issued a terse statement: "Michael Waltrip Racing is sensitive to working within the guidelines of NASCAR policy. This infraction clearly occurred as a result of a malfunction caused by race conditions. Therefore, we will not appeal. We thank NASCAR for providing a fair and equitable platform for all of its competitors and respect its decisions."


   The Sprint Cup champ at the White House: Should have been a great marketing/PR pop for NASCAR stock car racing. Should have been..... (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


More NASCAR Hypocrisy

We need a new sanctioning body to run stock car racing at its highest level. It's that simple. The Mickey Mouse leadership in place in NASCAR now is worse than it has ever been. Johnson's team does virtually the same thing last season and gets nothing, and now Penske's two teams get hit with a 25 point penalty. I just don't understand why the teams and owners keep putting up with this nonsense. They need to stick together and form a new sanctioning body and get rid of the nonsense that is NASCAR.
Another case in point of this hypocrisy in penalties levied is with Ron Hornaday blatantly wrecking Darrell Wallace Jr. at Rockingham under caution. When Kyle Busch did this to Hornaday at Texas, he got parked for two races (Nationwide and Cup) that weren't even in the same series. And now all NASCAR does to Hornaday is give a 25 point penalty. He cost Wallace near that many points by taking him out of the race, and doesn't get any kind of suspension for his unsafe actions? Where is all the uproar from NASCAR this time as there was when Kyle Busch did this? The hypocrisy is astounding.

Yup, Nascar sure does have a credability and

Yup, Nascar sure does have a credibilty and consistency problem that they cannot see. One team, HMS are "innovators" and "push the envelope", Penske "cheaters". A darn sad joke. Looking around the internet these past few days it seems like 98% of the people agree this is absurd and that the France family surely does love the Hendrick family. The perception is Slick Rick owns Nascar and by their actions, that thought really isn't as insane as it sounds.

Who really owns/runs Nascar

Well, Mike and some of you posters are nibbling at the fringes of the issue without hitting the bulls eye. This is a Pro-GM permeated organization that obviously and continuously favors GM teams (Hendrick being at the top of the GM pyramid)and the Chevy poster-boy drivers. The ultimate appeal rests with the former president of the Chevrolet division???!!! Come on. You already know how Mr Middlebrook will rule.

CHEVCAR! Been that way since 1972 when GM demanded that the Chrysler and Ford Hemis be banned from Nascar as their price to re-enter factory supported race teams in Nascar.

Penske penalties

Not only does NASCAR send mixed messages with their rulings but their appeals board is a joke, too. Let's not forget that last year NASCAR penalized the 48 team, they appealed and John Middlebrook, the chief appellate officer on the board, overturned the ruling. Oh, by the way, John Middlebrook is a retired General Motors executive!.

It is depressing that it has gotten to the point

It is depressing that it has gotten to the point that "some" print outlets are calling it like they see it and others continue to tow the company line. Hats off to those who hold NA$CRAP'S feet to the fire. That KING BRIAN continues to ignore rational thinking and continue to head in a direction that will lead to fewer tickets being sold and less people watching on TV. The core problem, they are no longer a sanctioning body but an entertainment company and everything they are doing is to that end. As for the felon, I think drawing a connection between him and NA$CRAP is totally on the money. From the no call last year to the time where crew chief tells driver to crash the rear of said car if a win occurs. Keep in mind the car in question, at least from the article I remember reading a while back that the car in question found a home a Dale Jr's crashed race car collection. Me thinks Princess getting the best bullet that they could produce went to her for Daytona this year could have been the quid pro quo for that deal. I'm back to not watching at all. I will continue to throw darts from time to time. Hope the drivers, except the four, stick together and the rest of the owners do the same and put NA$CRAP out of business. A simple sanctioning body to stage safe races is all that's needed. Want to punish King Brian take away his money. Don't watch, don't attend the staged entertainment events, don't spend any money to that end. The sooner NA$CRAP is gone the sooner racing can emerge and be popular again with RACING fans.

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Double standards

I agree the Hendrick organization has Brian France in their back pocket and he will make sure that one of Rick's boys wins the championship at a cost to the rest of the field. Roger should take a hard stand .

Hello Mike, I read a column this morning

Hello Mike,

I read a column this morning where the commentors are pissed with the Kezlowske penalties and how bad those rules are. (Message to Kez.. it's lonely at the top, I can testify when hobby racing in the summer of 1983, it is super lonely.)

But what pisses me off is the regular rules every week that kills racing on the track. Nascar hollers cost cutting and it doesn't do a damn bit of good, the pure bred engines are so expensive to get even one of them, who gives a crap they can have a 100 and use them whenever they want.

More cost cutting: how much do they spend on pit crews? How many millions is Mikey spending on Mark Martin's building? Everyone has a fast pit crew, the difference is in the screwups; the pit stops determine most every race, and again. And news flash here's a rule they don't enforce.... no passing under yellow. It is just a shame that Bruton Smith was so ridiculed for such a common sense idea.

Another, in a big wreck and red flag, the crews can't work on a totaled car, again who gives a crap....let them work on the cars, big damn deal. OR let them have a 5 lap penalty and bring out the back up car, get the sponsors back on track.

While re arranging my shop today I came across my November 1970 copy of Stock Car Magazine (I was 18 then and lived stock cars 24 -7). It has the Roger Huntington article about how it used to be. When the yellow came out you could dive into the pits when you came to the entrance, which could shake up the leaders of the race. And the other thing he mentions is (again) the double file restart was invented so the fast cars could start in their own lane.

My closing thought is about the yo yo's that ended up running the show later that weren't there in the real hey day of racing. Wallace wasn't there, Earnhardt wasn't there, Dumbass Waltrip wasn't there. To this day the inmates are still running the asylum and it is such a shame.

Henry Wheeler Muskogee, Oklahoma

Kudos to Mr. Mulhern for being one the few

Kudos to Mr. Mulhern for being one the few journalists with enough integrity to actually write about the double standard NASCAR has when it comes to Hendrick. Seems like the rest want to simply toe the company line and suck up to NASCAR,

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