Unless you don't have eyes, ears, or any other senses, you know the biggest story in NASCAR right now is the crazy situation between Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth. There is no need to recap the event, because let's be honest we have all heard or read about it a million times. Even with all the inconsistencies with the opinions and thoughts on the issue, one thing still remains the same, the inconsistency of NASCAR. In this post my goal is to pin-point 3 times the name on the side of the car played a role in the decision NASCAR ultimately made. In these 3 situations, I believe the last name of the driver penalized or not penalized either helped them or hurt them. Again, before I get started I will always love and respect NASCAR and their decisions. In these posts, I may go against what they say but my ultimate goal is not to degrade the sport, but to give my opinion on certain issues others won't speak on. You don't have to believe me when I say I love and respect the sport, but I do, and that's all that matters. Well, let's get rolling.
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2004 Talladega Win... VS. Regan Smith 2008 Talladgea Stolen-Win...
Most die-hard fans remember what happened in 2008. Regan Smith who at the time was driving for DEI in the #01 car was sitting second (behind Tony Stewart), then made a move coming to the checkards. Stewart, blocked forcing Smith to the apron where he passed Stewart but lost the race any way. The argument from NASCAR was that Smith made the pass under the yellow line, which is illegal. The reason fans defended Smith was due to another rule regarding the yellow line at the bottom of the track, which states that if a driver is forced down to the bottom the position does not have to be given back, and that the forcing driver may be black flagged. Emphasis on the 'MAY BE' black flagged, which means NASCAR makes the judgement. Smith who most fans believe was forced down by Stewart was black flagged and finished 18th, while Stewart got credit for winning the race.
Now, I would have no problem with this ruling if NASCAR had been consistent with rulings in the past. The situation I use to compare Smith's '08 'Dega misfortune is the 2004 fall race at Talladega. On this particular day Dale Earnhardt Jr., had battled through a bit of adversity with some damage he picked up during the race. In the late stages of the race Jr., then driving his infamous #8 car briefly dipped below the yellow line to make a pass. The issue here is NASCAR never called it, in fact Jr. went on to win the race. To provide a little more context the video below gives a little background on both situations:
These instances here are prime examples of times when the name of the driver affected NASCAR's call. Jr., who also broke the rule by dipping most of his car below the line to make a pass was not penalized resulting in him winning the race. The other example of Regan Smith, demonstrates that since Smith wasn't a big name it was okay to penalize him, while also crowning a star in the sport (Stewart) the winner. I bring this up because this is the same rule being broken by both drivers, but one goes on to win while the other goes on to finish 18th after being black flagged. At the end of the day, NASCAR know's it won't penalize Dale Jr., too much backlash would be involved to make such a bold decision that would cost Jr. a race at Talladega.
2. Joey Logano, Richmond 2013... VS. Clint Bowyer, Richmond 2013...
What makes this situation so unique is the fact that both controversies happened in the same race. Now, I will admit these are both a little different from each other, but it's the same concept of NASCAR letting one driver go while another suffers. The Richmond fall race is always exciting. With the post-season finally being set, fans know this particular weekend has the chance for much excitement every fall. In 2013 this race went on as normal, well at first it did. This particular race at Richmond became known more for the controversy led by Michael Waltrip Racing, than for who went on to win (Carl Edwards). In case you have forgotten, in 2013, Clint Bowyer who was driving his #15, 5-Hour Energy Toyota, supposedly spun out on purpose to cause a caution, all with the motive of helping teammate at the time Martin Truex Jr. make the Chase. Though I don't doubt that Bowyer did this on purpose, NASCAR came down hard on MWR. Though some of the penalties made sense, NASCAR eventually took Truex out of the Chase though he didn't know of the incident, and fined MWR heavily. So I am sure by this point in the blog you are asking me how this relates, well here you go.
In that same exact race there were clear radio communications between the #22 team of Joey Logano & the #38 team of David Gilliland, that requested Gilliland give Logano a spot so he could be in the Chase. Logano's team who would have more than likely made the Chase requested over and over again for Gilliland's team to let him by, which eventually happened. I myself didn't remember this happening, but here is the video I found that reminded of it:
The comparison here comes from the fact that two different drivers deliberately altered the race to advance themselves or a teammate in to the NASCAR playoffs. Though Bowyer's may be a little more severe than what Logano asked for, it is not fair that Bowyer & MWR get huge penalties and Logano gets away with nothing. In fact, what makes this so hard is that Bowyer's incident is not 100% provable while Logano's is. Yes, I do think Bowyer did it on purpose, but if NASCAR is making judgement calls, you can't just assume he spun out on purpose. Logano's team clearly had conversations that were recorded. In fact, the video proves the team was trying to hide it by switching channels. I just wanted to point out that MWR & Bowyer suffered heavily while Logano and crew who did in fact get handed the position from the #38 car got off free. Both drivers were in the wrong and altered the race, but NASCAR only snagged one.
3. Jeff Gordon, Phoenix 2012... VS. Kyle Busch, Texas 2011...
I have used this case over and over again. You want to know why? Because this case is so easy to compare to some of the events that have taken place recently. Jeff Gordon, who I am a fan of, purposely, wrecked Clint Bowyer in the closing laps at Phoenix in 2012. Gordon who got frustrated with Bowyer after Bowyer put him into the wall a few laps prior, came back on track a lap down and took the #15 car out of the race. Bowyer's car was totaled and a huge fight ensued. The crazy thing about this situation is that Gordon got off with just probation. Gordon, a 4-time champion of the sport is a crowd favorite, but let's be honest, he deserved to be penalized heavily for his actions that race weekend.
Now, looking further in the past, most fans are familiar with the Kyle Busch, Ron Hornaday incident. Busch who was making a Truck Series start in the Texas fall race was battling Hornaday for the lead as they both approached a lapped truck. Busch squeezed Hornaday, which freed up Hornaday's truck leading him to have to save his racecar. Hornaday ran into Busch in the act of saving his truck resulting in both scraping the wall. The caution fell, but Busch didn't have enough just yet, he preceded to speed down track and total Hornaday's truck by doing what you see below (video not best quality, and language warning):
The bottom line here is that both driver's committed the same crime, but only one had a huge penalty. Now, some people will argue that NASCAR officials have had more issues with Busch than Gordon, but you have to make a penalty call on the latest incident not the past reputation of a driver. Busch and Gordon had one thing in common with both instances, they went and deliberately wrecked a competitor. Honestly, Gordon's actions could be considered worse since he was a lap down, Busch was running 2nd and sacrificed himself to get his payback. Both wrecks had the same motive, but one driver was suspended for the weekend while the other went on to win the next race without a major penalty. This is just another instance where a drivers name can save the day. NASCAR won't park Gordon, who is a face of the sport. If roles were reversed and Bowyer took out Gordon, I guarantee that Bowyer would have been told to leave until next season.
Overall, I just wanted to state the case that the name can influence the decision made in the head office of NASCAR. Some of my colleagues will argue otherwise, but here is proof. These 3 cases demonstrate the level of inconsistency NASCAR has shown over the years which have changed the outcome of races and careers. At the end of the day, NASCAR has the right to make any decision they want, but for the future we need to at least get some level of consistency, POINT. BLANK. PERIOD.
Thanks for reading!! Sorry for all the videos, but figured it would be the best way to remind everyone of each case! Hope you enjoyed! Let me know if there are some other instances I didn't talk about!! Also, if you disagree feel free to let me know!! I am open to all opinions!! Also, as I always state, I love and respect NASCAR but want to use my knowledge to try and critique the sport and draw some things to the attention of the fans!! Hope you enjoyed, have a great rest of your day! Remember to follow me on Twitter @nascar_opinion!!!
(PICS AND VIDEO NOT MINE, USED FROM VARIOUS SITES)