Cheating is nothing new in NASCAR, in fact there was cheating in the very first sanctioned race. One would think NASCAR would have a handle on it by now. One would be wrong.
Dr House was fond of saying, “Everybody lies;” the NASCAR motto should be; “Everybody cheats.” Not only that, those involved love to brag about it, and the fans love to hear about it. It has become glamourized. Much like Mad Men there are a lot of great stories about cheating back in the day. Fans will say that some drivers were like Don Draper and could get away with it, while their favorite driver was like Pete Campbell–always getting caught.
Now we come to last Saturday night in Richmond. MWR team owner Michael Waltrip said after the fact that spotter Ty Norris made a “split-second decision” to call Brian Vickers into the pits in order to give teammate Martin Truex, Jr a shot at making it into the Chase. What I am sure of is that it was a split-second decision based on a premeditated plan to do whatever it takes to ensure Truex got into NASCAR’s equivilent of the playoffs. I am also sure that most other teams would do something similar given the circumstamces. All’s fair.
What bothered me wasn’t MWR’s shenanigans, such a beautiful word “shenanigans,” it was the way that Waltrip threw Norris under the bus. He seemed to imply that it all Norris’ idea. He made Norris out to be a patsy.
I’m not equating Ty Norris with Lee Harvey Oswald, but it appears that he was spotting from a book depository. Meanwhile, Clint Bowyer’s crew chief Brian Pattie was sitting atop a pit box parked on a grassy knoll. Pattie was playing “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” with Bowyer, intimating that it was hot in the car and that Bowyer’s arm had an itch that needed scratching. Whether it was intentional or not Bowyer’s spin was beneficial to Truex, and as an added bounus it kept Jeff Gordon out of the Chase. For the uninitiated, Bowyer and Gordon have a history of not liking each other.
EPSN, playing the part of Abraham Zapruder, has in car audio and video of Bowyer before and during the spin. Notice Bowyer’s head; he looks into the mirror and then the car spins. Back and to the left.
Also in the cast are NASCAR Compitition Director John Darby as New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, and NASCAR President Mike Helton as Judge Edward Haggerty. So, I guess that makes Michael Waltrip… um… Jack Ruby? I don’t know who Bowyer and Vickers would be. The only other person I can remember from the movie is Clay Shaw and even I am not willing to go there.
After the smoke cleared, the verdict was handed down. Martin Truex, Jr had his Chase spot taken away and it was given to Ryan Newman. Newman then had to remove his pit crew from under the bus. He called them out after the race because of a slow pit stop.
Also, Michael Waltrip Racing was fined $300,000. Ty Norris has been indefinately suspended. All three MWR crew cheifs were placed on double secret probation, and each team was docked fifty drivers, and fifty owners points. However… Since this was the last race of the regular season the points deduction has no bearing on Clint Bowyer’s standing in the Chase order. At all. That’s NASCAR.
It’s no secret that I am not a fan of the Chase. I thought it was a classic case of fixing something that wasn’t broken. An overreaction to one time occurance. Someone’s idea of announcing their presence with authority.
The Chase was the brainchild of NASCAR CEO Brian France, and that’s all you really need to know. I knew something was up back in the Nineties when Brian’s father William C. “Bill Jr” France named Mike Helton the President of NASCAR and put him in charge of day to day operations. It was as if Bill Jr looked around and couldn’t find a Michael Corleone to hand the reins over to as his father “Big Bill” had done in the early Seventies. So Bill Jr had no other choice but to put his own version of Tom Hagen in charge. Yes, I guess that means that Brian France is Fredo.