Mar 17, 2008
In his recent victory at the Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Carl Edwards finished the race in a car whose oil tank lid had come off, something that was in direct violation of NASCAR rules, because it could have given him an unfair aerodynamic versus the other cars in the race. Upon discovering this violation, NASCAR proceeded to penalize Edwards 100 championship points, deduct 100 owner’s points from team owner Jack Roush of Roush Fenway Racing, and fine crew chief Bob Osborne $100,000, in addition to suspending him for the next six races. Edwards also lost 10 bonus points he would have received for sticking the landing when he did his post-race flip out of the car, bonus points that might have made the difference when it came time to tally up whom would make the Chase. We have already pointed out the stupidity of suspending crew chiefs rather than drivers, so that isn’t our point this time around. Instead, we are truly surprised by the whining that has surrounded the penalty, which is, on the face of it, not all that severe.
“This is classic 16th century punishment where you get your fingers cut off for stealing a penny,” Geoff Smith, the president of Roush Fenway Racing, told ESPN.
Roush claimed the screw that is designed to hold the oil tank lid down must have worked itself out due to vibration during the race. (Hmmm? As meticulously prepared as these cars are, is a screw likely to work itself loose in an area that will offer the car a slight advantage?) Roush claimed that it was all an accident and not an attempt to create an aerodynamic advantage, and he did not believe the missing lid actually created an advantage for his car and driver.
But we have to ask: Is that the point? The car that Edwards finished the race in was clearly out of spec for whatever reason, intentional or accidental. Whether the portion of the car that was out of spec gave Edwards an advantage or not is immaterial. When you cheat you should be punished, not excused because the cheating you did didn’t help you.
In other words, we are not proponents of the W.C. Fields line, “Anything worth having is worth cheating for.” And NASCAR should keep firm teeth in its enforcement of the rules -- not weasel out because some people with axes to grind think it is being too strict.
Get in touch with your host, Jack Nerad, the head honcho of Driving Today.Go>>