Cheating, or Just Trying Hard?
NASCAR yesterday ejected Chad Knaus, crew chief for Jimmie Johnson's #48 Lowe's Chevy, for the remainder of Speedweek -- and perhaps for two more Cup races -- for a rules infraction during qualifying on Sunday. Rules infraction being the polite way to say "cheating."
Knaus used a device to raise the 48 car's rear window, giving it an an aerodynamic edge on Sunday.
Now, Junior Johnson once said you can't win without cheating. It seems to me that everyone kind of accepts that philosophy, at least in the sense that you're looking for an edge. NASCAR even acknowledges there are gray areas, which kind of leaves teams in the dark about knowing when they've crossed the line.
But let's remember, they're not just racing for pride out there. There's big money at stake and big money has been invested. So the sanctioning body has to do its job to keep the playing field even. Anything less would be unfair. Besides, this isn't the first time Knaus has run into aerodynamic difficulties: He got smacked last year for the 48's roof being too low in the Las Vegas race. That's what I'd call a track record.
At any rate, Jimmie Johnson, a fan fave, is in a pickle. Not only does he start from the back of the pack in Thursday's 125, but he's lost his play caller for the 500. Ouch! Should the team owners start thinking about a permanent replacement for Knaus? I know I would. I'm sure the team sponsors will weigh in, too.
And where does that leave Terry Labonte, who got caught using an illegal carbuerator in Sunday qualifying?Hanging in the wind for now. It's possible there'll be disciplinary action for Labonte's 96 team, too. That would be a shame for the former champ, though I don't know the extenuating circumstances of his "rules infraction."
What are your thoughts? Has NASCAR made Knaus and the 48 team a high-profile scapegoat?
Or does the punishment fit the crime?
One of the speedway PR flaks asked me yesterday if I'd heard that one of the Alpine skiers at the Olympics has dubbed a big high-banked turn on the men's downhill course "Daytona" - and that the sportscasters had picked up on it. Neither he nor I have had time to watch to see if that's really true. Has anyone out there heard this, or is it a Daytona urban myth? Let us know, please. Thanks.
Live Chat on Wednesday
Join me for a live chat tomorrow from 2 to 3 p.m. That would be in the "Daytona time zone," which I think is the same as Eastern time, but sometimes that gets a little hazy.
Dirt Track Racing Tonight
I'm heading to Volusia County Speedway tonight to catch the dirt track action. I'll post tomorrow morning on that.
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