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Thursday, February 15, 2007

NASCAR through the lens of the wife

It’s not only because of Valentine’s Day that I say this, but my wife is pretty smart. She doesn’t really follow sports on her own time, but she is married to me. By default she has graduated beyond an elementary knowledge of sports. For instance she can identify the majority of the cars and drivers in Nextel Cup. From time to time I like to ask my wife what she thinks about current topics in sports. I simply present the facts without my opinion or editorial. It’s amazing how often she comes up with the most sensible answer. For example, I once explained how the BCS system worked in college football. She paused and then aksed, “Why don’t they just do a playoff? Wouldn’t that be easier?” Yes it would dear, yes it would.

Yesterday I told her what happened to Michael Waltrip and the other violators (she loves Kasey Kahne and Elliot Sadler, so the news hit hard for her). I explained that they ejected the respective crew chief/team director/man that sits atop the pit box, and also penalized Waltrip 100 points. Her first question was, “Why don’t they just kick the drivers out of the race?”

I think that echoes what many people think about this latest episode.

Other Thoughts:

With all of the cheating prior to Daytona, I’ve really been wondering what the motivation is. Last year it was Chad Knaus, in 2005 Todd Berrier was suspended for actions at Talladega. Gaining an edge in qualifying for a restrictor plate race makes little sense. Especially when the penalty last year was a 4 race suspension and loss of points.

I don’t like speculating and I have no concrete idea why they cheat. From what I can figure, there are two points worth mentioning. One, teams wouldn’t risk a 4 race suspension unless there was a gain greater than a fast qualifying run at a track where starting position is worthless. There has to be a good motive why teams are spending time and money on cheating. It can’t be as simple as what shows on the surface. No one would risk penalty for mere defiance.

The second point deals with the “why”. My thought is that teams are using Speedweeks as a giant test to see what will sneak past inspection in order to use these tricks at future tracks. It is possible that they try things at Daytona or Talladega for the exact reason that qualifying doesn’t matter. If something is caught, they go to the back of the line. If something makes it through, maybe a team uses a qualifying trick at a track where qualifying is more important.

Instead of my speculation, I would love to see a credential-carrying reported get the reason from the garage. On a related note, is anyone being productive today during the Duels?

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