NASCAR losing some fights
Wednesday, May. 08, 2013
Is there an open revolt in NASCAR?
The sanctioning body took a pair of hits this week one quite large as it saw a slew of penalties it assessed to Sprint Cup teams for rules violations get reduced or eliminated on appeal.
In fairness, neither Chief Appellate Officer John Middlebrook nor the three-member panel of the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel said NASCAR was wrong to penalize Penske Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing.
But the two decisions particularly the Gibbs one show that even in a deck stacked largely in its favor, NASCAR does not always have the winning hand.
Middlebrook cut in half the suspensions of seven Penske team members while letting points penalties and fines remain for the teams of drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano.
Since Middlebrooks position was created in 2010, he has consistently slapped NASCARs enforcement hand when it comes to the penalties it assesses.
On Wednesday, the three-member appeals panel which completely upholds NASCARs penalties more than 70 percent of the time unanimously removed the sting out of what was precedent-setting penalties against JGR for an engine violation.
The appeals panels decision generally is predictably favorable to NASCAR, in part because the panels membership is made up of numerous people who have made a living from the sport.
In fact, twice the panel increased NASCARs penalties, which it has the power to do.
Taken separately, the decisions this week would appear mere bumps in the road. Taken together, they seem to signal something more.
There seems a far more openness of late not just in questioning NASCARs decision-making, but in the willingness of participants to step in and curtail the sanctioning bodys authoritative reach.
Will it last? Its hard to say.
Honestly, NASCAR has the power to alter the process anyway it sees fit, since it did create it.
How far it will go to maintain its control will be interesting to watch during the coming weeks.
Plan to party at Coke 600
Reigning Cup series champion Keselowski will join Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne, legends Bobby and Donnie Allison and team owner Joe Gibbs on May 26 at an infield Pit Party sponsored by the NASCAR Hall of Fame at the Coca-Cola 600.
The Halls Pit Party will take place on pit road from 12:30 to 4:15 p.m. before the seasons longest race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The party will feature driver appearances, live music from national recording artist Benton Blount, concessions, racing displays and more. Access to the Pit Party is included with the purchase of a pit pass or a driver introduction pass.
In addition to the fan forums, the party will feature vintage military vehicles and displays from the Richard Petty Driving Experience.
Pit passes are $100 for adults, $50 for ages 14-18 and free for those younger than 13 with a paying adult. Driver introduction passes are $150 for adults and $75 for those age 13 and younger. Pit passes must be purchased in addition to a race ticket. Call 800-455-3267 for more information.
Awards banquet date set
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards the annual culmination of Champions Week will be at the Wynn Las Vegas for the fifth consecutive year. This years show will be Friday, Dec. 6.
From 1981 until 2008, NASCAR held its year-ending premier series awards show in New York. Starting in 2009, the awards banquet has been in Las Vegas.
Michigan test planned
Cup drivers Kurt Busch and Trevor Bayne will test Tuesday and Wednesday at Michigan International Speedway. The Turn 1 grandstands will be open each day for fans.
Where: Darlington (S.C.) Raceway
When: 6:45 p.m. Saturday
Radio: Motor Racing Network
Last years winner: Jimmie Johnson