By Joe Dunn
How many of you have watched that Carfax commercial and chuckled when the girl ask for the carfax, and the salesman pulls out a note from the previous owner? Look, it says, “this is a really god car ……I Promise!” I didn’t think that guy looked like Mike Helton or John Darby, until last week.
Does anybody know how many times NASCAR has requested teams to come to the R&D center so that they can show them just how ‘Legal’ the car is? I think it would be a really small number. What are the chances that if this happened in May, and not during the Chase, we would be hearing a different outcome?
OK, I thought about writing about the ‘call’ last week, but decided that by the time my mid-week column hit the website it would already be all over the media. To my surprise it did not get much coverage at all, perhaps because NASCAR ‘Promised’ that it was not an issue. After all, everybody moved onto Kansas, and most folks accepted the NASCAR call on the deal.
Hey, Tony Stewart won the race with Jeff Gordon closing in at the end, but neither the No.5 or the No.48 finished in the top 5. Surely the Cup officials were relieved of that and hoped for this ’close call’ to die a quite death. After the post-race inspections, the normal procedures were followed as NASCAR ordered the winning car No.14 and a random car, the No.2 to be loaded up for the R&D center. Then came the twist, they ordered both the No.5 and the No.48 to go too.
Just what kind of a signal does that send to the teams, the media, and the fans? If those two cars were so ’Legal’ last week, why are they pulling them again? I think the inference that many folks will take from this call goes like this. One of both of these cars were actually ’out of tolerance’ last week, but not wanting to effect the championship, the rules violations were allowed to slide with a warning not to do it again. So, NASCAR not actually trusting the two HMS teams to comply, (especially the 48 team, based on their record) they are going to check them again. The big question will be, if they are the same as last week, will the call be the same?
This whole thing is turning into a public relations problem for NASCAR and it could escalate even further. Should they find the No.5 and No.48 to be illegal this week and call for penalties, it will call into question WHY the penalties didn’t occur last week. And if they are ‘so close’ again this week ‘but legal’, will the HMS teams claim they are being picked on? Why did NASCAR not comment on just what the measurements in question were? They normally do.
One of NASCAR’s explanations last week was that they wanted HMS to see how close the cars were because the teams equipment showed that they were OK. If that comment came about a call on a Stewart-Haas Racing car (yes SHR hangs their own bodies), or a Tommy Baldwin Racing car, it would be understood as they do not have all the resources of a Hendrick or Roush-Fenway team. But HMS has the most advanced shops in NASCAR with equipment far better than NASCAR’s own. If a measurement at NASCAR R&D is off, it would be off at HMS. So the pulling of these cars again this week just makes last weeks call an issue all over again.
Perhaps with the attendance and TV rating continuing to fall, Brian France is looking for a Conspiracy controversy, like the Wrestling shows use, to get those frustrated fans in California to actually show up at Fontana now that they have a Chase race.