Race Weekend Central

Voices From the Cheap Seats: Gibbs Redemption Shows NASCAR is Out of Touch

With all the hubbub over the last two weeks about a connecting rod that was found to be a mere three grams underweight in the engine of Joe Gibbs Racing star, Matt Kenseth, and the resulting penalties levied by NASCAR, the main question in my mind is: did we really need to go through all this stupid drama?

Are the powers that be, that out of touch with common sense? Ok, that’s two questions. But really, is there any one among us that didn’t think NASCAR was way off base? Make that three questions … or maybe it’s all one, I don’t know. All I do know is, thank the Lord someone in the appeals process isn’t as rich as Brian France and still has an ounce of sanity.

Matt Kenseth and Joe Gibbs Racing came out on the positive side of NASCAR’s appeal process earlier this week after a victory at Kansas Speedway. Photo courtesy of Rick Lunkenheimer (@FrntstretchRick)

Long story short, the appellate body basically let NASCAR keep the money for the fine, but essentially threw out almost everything else, but you all know that already as I’m sure I am not your main source of NASCAR news. I am simply here to put a voice to what the common man, with common sense wants to say to all this!

One of the main facts of the case is, JGR never touches the inside of their Toyota engines. They are leased, signed, sealed and delivered by Toyota Racing Development. Another fact of the case is, there was none, no, not one iota of advantage that that engine had over any other in the race. NASCAR, never one to be bothered by facts, was not real happy with the eventual outcome of the case.

“Our sport has a due process system in place that has served this sport very well for more than 65 years, and that due process resulted in this decision here today,” NASCAR Spokesman, Kerry Tharp said. “While we are disappointed by today’s outcome, we stand firmly behind our inspection process. The inspection of engines, and engine parts and pieces has always been regarded as the holy grail throughout the industry — that along with fuel and tires. In violations such as these, we have no other reinforcement process than to penalize the team owner and team members. That’s how our system works.”

The first thing that comes to my mind after reading that statement is, how out of touch with how NASCAR has developed over the years are these guys? Do they not know that JGR can’t even touch the internal engine? If their only course of action is to “penalize the team owner and team members,” how do they explain the whole ‘Manufacturer’s Championship’ and their initial penalty to Toyota of five points? (Which, by the way was increased by the appellate board, as common sense dictates, to seven points.)

Over the last 65 years, their ‘due process’ may have served them all well and good, but that was back when racing engines were being built by individual men and NOT entire corporations.

How on earth do grown men, supposedly smart men, sit down and come up with the harsh penalties they did with this particular JGR case? It simply boggles the mind! How, on one hand, does NASCAR claim to be ‘on the cutting edge’ of almost everything, and yet not realize the way the sport, the teams and the entire process of fielding a Cup car, has modernized to the point that maybe infractions such as this ought to be dealt with in a manner befitting a 2013 Cup team and not a 1973, or even a 1993 Cup team?

And NASCAR wonders why the fans show just passing interest these days! With a sanctioning body that appears to have totally lost touch with reality, how can you take it seriously?

Ironically, despite what some of our writers on here may tell you, this last week was one of the best restrictor plate races I have witnessed in years. Maybe this ‘Gen Six’ car won’t turn out to be ‘Gen Sux’ after all!

Stay off the wall, (you might get penalized for ‘actions detrimental to the concrete’!)

Jeff Meyer

Contact Jeff Meyer

About the author

Jeff is one of the longest-tenured staffers at Frontstretch, starting his second decade as the resident humorist and pain-in-the-butt that keeps NASCAR (and his fellow co-workers) honest. Writing Voices From The Cheap Seats, every Tuesday, his BSNews! Segments along with alter ego “Stu Padasso” have developed a large following. Jeff makes his home in Tennessee and is a Bristol groupie, camping out for the August night race every year since he can remember.

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