Feb 26, 2007
Cheaters Never Prosper?By JR Nerad
Whenever I have had the slightest inclination to cheat on anything -- a test, a tennis match, my marriage -- my Mom's voice comes ringing in my ears: Cheaters never prosper. Through the decades I have remembered that, and it has been very good advice. Cheating is wrong, and in the grand karmic tapestry of things on Earth, it should not be rewarded.
But, sadly, in NASCAR, which by rights should stand for all things that are good about America, including our national disdain for cheaters, that view does not seem to prevail. Oh, yes, lip service is paid to punishing those who cheat, but when it comes to putting some teeth in penalties that will truly punish cheating, NASCAR officials don't seem to have the stomach for it.
The latest example of this weak-kneed, lily-livered approach to cheating comes with the appeals of penalties against the teams of drivers Elliott Sadler, Scott Riggs, Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne. How these teams have the audacity to appeal these slaps on the wrist are nearly beyond the comprehension of this writer, but those penalties are being appealed nonetheless. All the teams admit they committed the infractions cited by NASCAR -- they just don't like the result. Ray Evernham, who owns the Sadler, Riggs and Kahne teams, has been quoted as saying the penalties are too harsh, and he has decried the fact that the accusations of cheating have damaged the reputation of his organization, an organization that is, by the way, well-respected in the sport.
To which we can only say, if you don't want to be accused of cheating, Ray, then don't cheat. And don't back up your crews who do cheat when they get caught red-handed. That isn't the way to improve the reputation of your organization.
Evernham seems especially miffed that his teams were docked championship points as part of the punishment for cheating. He pointed out that eventual 2006 Nextel Cup champion Jimmie Johnson was not docked points when his team was found to have altered his car for aerodynamic advantage in last year's Daytona 500, and frankly he has a point there. He might also have a point when he claims that last year his cars used the same technique on its spoiler attachments that were cited as illegal this year. Of course, just because you evaded detection for cheating last year doesn't mean that you can feel free to continue to cheat at will.
We admire Evernham and think he's a stand-up guy, but we believe he's wrong on this. He should accept the penalties and be grateful that they weren't much more onerous, like suspending a driver for a race, for example. Meanwhile NASCAR has to get its house in order -- is it comfortable with cheating or does it really want to do something about it in a fair, even-handed way?
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