Last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, victory lane said “Hello… Newman!” on two different occasions. Once after the Whelen Modified Tour FW Webb 100 and the other following the Lenox Industrial Tools 301. Yes, life seemed just peachy for the new father with two trips to victory lane in one weekend. However, reality set in today (July 20) as it was learned that Ryan Newman’s Whelen Modified Tour victory was as legit as a Nigerian banker scam.
Newman and car owner Kevin “Bono” Manion (who is also the crew chief for Jamie McMurray in the Sprint Cup Series) had their winning car confiscated post-race over issues with the restrictor plate and the air-flow on the motor. After winning the FW Webb 100 by 1.901 seconds over the nearest competitor, Todd Szegedy, it was discovered that the dominating performance was just a bit too dominating. And after several days of speculation over what would happen, the hammer of justice came down hard on car owner Manion and his crew chief Mike LaRochelle.
The two were suspended from NASCAR regional touring competition until Dec. 31 for violating Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing), 12-4-1 (car, car parts, components and/or equipment used does not conform to NASCAR rules), and 20D-5.9P (the intake manifold parts did not completely seal to the cylinder head ports. The use of metal shim-type intake manifold gaskets is not permitted).
And what does Newman get for his role in this injustice? All that happens to him is he gets his win taken away. No suspension from the regional touring ranks. No fine. Nothing. He gets a penalty as weak as the series ending of The Sopranos.
This sends yet another mixed message that penalties for crew members are held to a different standard than a fairly recognizable NASCAR Sprint Cup driver. LaRochelle and even Manion get the book thrown at them for getting caught cheating (and rightfully so), yet basically nothing happens to the guilty driver? NASCAR needs to hold crew members and drivers, no matter how marketable they are to the fanbase, to the same standard, or don’t bother enforcing the rules at all.
How is it OK for a driver to get caught cheating yet the crew members get hammered with the penalties? Granted, it’s not necessarily worth suspending Newman from NASCAR national touring competition, but there should have been a suspension from the regional touring series or at the very least a sizeable fine.
Yes, they took away his win, but there should have been more where that came from.
But this begs the question: what was even the point of cheating to beat guys that have maybe half the budget of Manion and Newman? With the equipment the two of them could have been able to afford, was it really necessary to cheat the drivers that don’t have that type of funding? Surely Newman or Manion were not afraid that a series regular would legitimately beat them, were they?
It’s bad enough that Cup guys invade the Nationwide and Truck series, pilfering sponsors and victories from drivers that could desperately use that money, but to do so in a regional touring series? One can understand doing so for the thrill of racing, but is it truly that… or is it really just an ego boost for these drivers? Series regulars such as Szegedy have to feel like they got punched in the mouth by Rampage Jackson after getting swindled like this.
The sad thing in all of this is, unless NASCAR steps up to the plate and penalizes drivers on a equal scale as a car owner or a crew chief for cheating, this is only going to continue.
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