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Archive for Thursday, June 17, 2004

NASCAR’s credibility, competence in question

June 17, 2004

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NASCAR has a serious problem, and let's hope the folks in Daytona Beach, Fla., finally realize that.

It's time to stop apologizing and to start making changes. Dover was bad enough, but Pocono was pathetic.

The flagman signaling the opening of pit road picked up the wrong flag.

What's that? It shouldn't be his call anyway. Unless somebody in the tower tells him to wave a green or red flag, he ought to be sitting in his chair with his hands in his pocket.

NASCAR President Mike Helton can talk about human error all he wants to, but that error wasn't the fault of the human holding the flag. Somebody in the tower has to make that call.

There's always been a running joke about using the words "NASCAR" and "credibility" in the same sentence. There are people who believe stock-car racing outcomes are concocted and carefully scripted. Of course, many who believe that also have felt all along that NASCAR was incompetent too, apparently without realizing it's impossible to be both corrupt and inept at the same time.

Today, inept is clearly the leader in the clubhouse. And the criticism for that has to be placed right at the feet of the people who ought to be on top of this -- the handful of people who sit in the control tower every Sunday who have the responsibility of running the race fairly and competently.

Any command regarding the condition of the track, whether the green, yellow, red, white or checkered flag should be displayed or whether pit road should be open or closed, should come from the tower. Officials at track level should act only upon that command.

After everything that has happened in the last few weeks, how do drivers, car owners or crew chiefs have any confidence that they're getting a fair shake?

How can NASCAR dare call a pit road speeding penalty on somebody when it can't score the race or decide when to put out a caution or open pit road?

No matter what it decides to do or not do to Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick for their silliness at the end of Sunday's race at Pocono, can anybody have faith that it's a fair and proper decision? It's hard to see how.

It really is a fairly simple issue, when you cut through all of the trappings. If the people who are running races these days can't do the job, then somebody who can do it needs to start running the races.

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