That’s Racing: In NASCAR, the cheat goes on

Friday, March 14, 2008 at 12:16am

Note to NASCAR: when the cops catch a bank robber, they generally don’t let him keep part of the loot.

But that’s how NASCAR deals with cheaters, the Carl Edwards Vegas heist being the latest case in point.

Following Edwards’ win at Las Vegas Speedway a couple of weeks ago, inspectors discovered his car was missing a lid cover from the oil reservoir.

NASCAR said it gave the car an aerodynamic advantage. Edwards was docked 100 championship points, his team was fined $100,000 and his crew chief suspended for six races.

But Edwards was allowed to keep the “victory,” the winnings, most of the championship points and all of the other illicit goodies.

Elliott Sadler was one of the few drivers with the grit to speak out: if the team cheated to win, how could NASCAR let the win stand? That’s a good question. A lot of us have been asking it for years.

It’s not complicated: did Edwards cheat his way to victory or didn’t he?

If he didn’t, why penalize him at all? If he did, why reward him at all?

The team’s only defense was that the infraction was “unintentional.”

If a receiver “unintentionally” steps out of bounds as he catches what would have been the winning pass in the Super Bowl, his team doesn’t get to keep the touchdown.

The Edwards episode is reminiscent of the cheating scandals that swirled around Jimmie Johnson’s team. Crew chief Chad Knaus was repeatedly suspended for rules violations, yet after every incident NASCAR allowed Johnson to race merrily on to victories and championships.

When big, powerful teams like Edwards’ and Johnson’s are caught cheating it’s especially shameful. It’s like the New England Patriots being caught cheating. They already have all the advantages that money can buy, yet they still try to gain an unfair edge over their opponents.

The smog of cheating that hangs over NASCAR grimes the sport. It tarnishes its image and cheapens its credibility.

If NASCAR really wanted to end cheating, it could do it by sundown. Simply notify every team owner that, starting this weekend, any team caught cheating sits out the next race.

Drivers, mechanics and owners like to say they win as a team. If they cheat as a team, they can sit out as a team.

Don’t buy the “grey area” excuses. Engineers who are smart enough to build a high-performance race car are smart enough to build one within the rules.

NASCAR claims it’s complicated, but it’s not. Set clear, precise rules that every competitor can understand. Then if they cheat, throw the bums out.

What’s so complicated about that?

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By: courier37027 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Woody, get your head out of your posterior and smell the moolah. While I do agree that cheating in sports dilutes the product, two issues trump cheating: money and ratings. Do you think sponsors will allow their decals and paid advertising space on cars to sit in a garage, disqualified? Good bye multimillion dollars. Also, this drama is good for article space, media ratings and publicity (in NASCAR's view). NASCAR seems to be turning less from grease and guts and more toward "Desperate Housewives" production quality.The only thing the Prince family will not allow is a driver who does not toe the comany line, namely Mr. Stewart's comments regarding late race flags.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

I wish they would go back to STOCK cars, get rid of the plates and let whoever builds the fastest car do it. I liked the early days of DW, Richard Petty, etc. JMO. I still watch it some, but I can't watch the whole race like I use to.

By: TRHJR on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Woody... would it stop it ? Maybe.. Maybe they (Mechs) just get better.. I don`t know... BUT... don`t let`em race the next race GOOD .... Then the Sponsors ( if they were smart ) might put their foot down... T1... ya still a kiss a--.... What.... they didn`t have restricker plates when R. Petty, DW raced ? Now... in 1971 Nascar wanted to reduce the size of Engines.. 1987 or about then, they went to Restrictor Plates, Just go read about it.... Rusty Wallace took a JOY ride around Talladega.. said it was " out of control".. They should have some kind of controls.... BUT WHAT ?

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

TRHJR, I said the EARLY days of DW and Petty. The plates were not used until 1988. I liked it when the cars were faster than the driver. If the driver had to back off, then put his foot back into it, that puts the driver in control. JMO.

By: TITAN1 on 12/31/69 at 7:00

The best races I have ever attended were at Talladega before the plates.

By: frank brown on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Woody, this cheating is not visible to the fans. It is only visible to the owners and mechanics and drivers....The rest of us now know how to watch a Nascar race...We wait until there is only 25 laps left and then we watch.....The races are far too boring to waste time with the other 475 laps.