NASCAR is about to kickoff itâ€™s 2007 season and there has never been more negative press for this highly popular spectator sport. Five crew chiefs have been fined and suspended for cheating in either upping fuel efficiency or improving the aerodynamics of their vehicle.
Michael Waltripâ€™s number 55 Toyota was found to have an illegal substance in the fuel system. The fines included $100,000 for Waltripâ€™s crew chief, David Hyder. Waltrip is out of the race and was fined 100 competition points. Competition director Bobby Kennedy was suspended. Both Hyder and Kennedy were ejected from the site, however Waltrip was not and thatâ€™s got some folks wondering why the driver of #55 has been allowed to stick around.
If Waltrip knew about the violation ahead of time, then he should not be at Daytona. And when you ask other drivers, such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., if they think he did have knowledge of the cheating, they agree that it would be hard for him not to know. The fact is, as race enthusiasts know, NASCAR drivers know their vehicles inside out.
Richard Petty noted that when you drive and own the car, as Waltrip does, then itâ€™s hard not to know whatâ€™s going on. And as far as fuel tampering is concerned, Petty, according to ESPN.com, observed, “The fuel, that’s blatant. I guess it’s been so dadgum long since they caught anybody that they’d forgotten.â€?
When someoneâ€™s caught cheating in NASCAR itâ€™s an unwritten rule that they leave the premises, although an incident like this hasnâ€™t occurred in this sport since the 1970â€™s. According to ESPN.com former driver and owner Ricky Rudd noted that, â€œI always thought if you tampered with certain things you went home for eight weeks.”
Junior Johnson was suspended when he incorporated an illegal carburetor at Charlotte in Tommy Ellis’ vehicle. That happened in 1978 and the penalty was a whopping 12-week suspension, which was later reduced to four upon appeal.
At this point, thatâ€™s not happening with Waltrip. Although thereâ€™s often tension and controversy in the pits and off the track, NASCAR would like to see the excitement confined to the track itself. Itâ€™s up to NASCAR to protect the integrity of their brand and the competition by handling this quickly and harshly. Every minute Waltrip remains at Daytona more questions arise, fueling controversy and doubt.
Do you think maybe Will Ferrell will make a Talladega Nights 2â€”The Cheating of Ricky Bobby? Thatâ€™s something NASCAR certainly wouldnâ€™t want to see happen.