Just a week after Tony Stewart criticized NASCAR for its rather lax rules regarding tightened lug nuts, and having to cough up a $35,000 fine for doing so, guess who is once again mandating that all lug nuts be tightened? Apparently there are no “whistler blower” provisions in effect when it comes to spotlighting stupidity. Look at the shock on this ole face. At least a few of Stewart’s peers were outraged enough to go in together to pay the fine for him. Sure, NASCAR could just say “thanks” to Tony and move on. Actually, based on what we have seen over the year, no, they could not. They just do not have it in them.
Coming to Talladega, I doubt many fans have forgotten the fine handed out to Dale Earnhardt Jr. after he won there in 2004. When asked about taking his fifth career victory at the big track, Junior responded on television with “It don’t mean shit right now. Daddy’s won here 10 times.” That cost him $10,000 and a few points. Hell, it is a good thing I am not a driver. I would be broke by June.
Try as they might, they just cannot seem to do what is right. While Stewart looks at his fine as an investment into the safety of the sport, NASCAR spouts off about how its drivers cannot question the integrity of the sport, even if its integrity is sometimes suspect. Their response to a host of issues has been found wanting, both on the track and off it. You would have thought that by now they would know if something could pose a danger, one day it will for someone. A lack of lug nuts, exposed concrete walls, seating too close to the action are among them.
NASCAR has done some good things. The safety of the car is the biggest one, in my opinion. Despite my initial misgivings, I do like the Chase, I do like the new points system, and I do like having wins have more meaning. That said, do you really think Stewart should make the Chase if he cannot complete a race? Ty Dillon will relieve him at some point this Sunday, with Tony getting credit for the points picked up, and even a victory should that happen. Really? Those have long been the rules, but I think time and recent rule changes have made that archaic. If you have to get out of the car, you park the car. No exceptions. Poor NASCAR, even when they try to be understanding, they either fail to understand or they are misunderstood.
You would think NASCAR would even have a team in place to quickly address social issue controversies, especially in these times. When we are actually having unisex changing rooms at swimming pools, washrooms of the same design were not far off. They do not have to buy into what everyone is selling, but NASCAR should at least be prepared to respond one way or the other in terms they are willing to stand by.
Hiding attendance figures is not exactly the response of an open, transparent, people friendly outfit, either. NASCAR even has its own way of eliminating the question of whether a glass is half empty or half full by just tearing down grandstands and calling the smaller configuration a better glass. Some like to think they and their sport or favorite team are in it together. NASCAR does not allow that. That is not helpful when one is going through tough times.
Shooting the messenger, then immediately acting on the message, does not help much either. Having Talladega on tap for our Hot 20 does.
1. CARL EDWARDS – 2 WINS – 331 PTS
Loves, loves, loves to love tap his teammate.
2. JIMMIE JOHNSON – 2 WINS – 310 PTS
Stewart got fined, but Jimmie, Junior, Kyle, Brad, Denny and Kevin paid it…and happy to do so.
3. KYLE BUSCH – 2 WINS – 302 PTS
If Kyle does not pay Carl back, Samantha just might.
4. KEVIN HARVICK – 1 WIN – 324 PTS
His sponsor promotes drinking beer and going fishing. What possibly could go wrong?
5. DENNY HAMLIN – 1 WIN – 258 PTS
From the Drivers’ Council: NASCAR, you did Tony wrong. Love, Denny and friends.
6. BRAD KESELOWSKI – 1 WIN – 255 PTS
Tony will pay his own fine, but thanks to Brad and company a donation goes to fight autism.
7. JOEY LOGANO – 299 PTS
Would love to see what happened last fall repeat itself this spring.
8. KURT BUSCH – 279 PTS
Maybe he could start a Formula One race, and have Lewis Hamilton sub for him.
9. DALE EARNHARDT JR. – 278 PTS
Junior loves Talladega, and the fans there love him right back.
10. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 246 PTS
Top 10 in the standings, more than likely a top 10 on Sunday.
11. CHASE ELLIOTT – 234 PTS
When does this racing thing get hard?
12. AUSTIN DILLON – 234 PTS
Having a good year, yet everyone is talking about brother Ty coming into the weekend.
13. JAMIE MCMURRAY – 224 PTS
Five mph above the speed limit is his street limit. Considering radar is now a cash cow, good thing.
14. KASEY KAHNE – 222 PTS
A career revival constitutes making the Chase and doing well once he gets there.
15. MATT KENSETH – 212 PTS
Having the worse kind of season 25 other drivers can only dream of having.
16. RYAN NEWMAN – 205 PTS
Second-best average finisher at Talladega the past two years. That has to count for something.
17. A.J. ALLMENDINGER – 204 PTS
Some drivers do well with one-car teams. Others are named Clint Bowyer.
18. TREVOR BAYNE – 196 PTS
With an average Talladega finish outside the Top 25, he could see a lot of Danica on Sunday.
19. RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – 193 PTS
Richmond penalty costs the team Crew Chief Nick Sandler this weekend.
20. RYAN BLANEY – 187 PTS
Here partially in thanks to Paul Menard, Kyle Larson, Greg Biffle, and Bowyer