Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A loss-loss situation: Bowyer-RCR losses final appeal and NASCAR losses in the eyes of some fans.

Not surprised that Bowyer-RCR lost appeal, they got the right penalty for the crime in the end, but NASCAR lost as well in the eyes of NASCAR fans for not explaining the situation, the penalty and process of why the #33 passed post tech at track, but failed at R&D Center. They needed more details.

Well ladies and gentlemen, it has been a long three weeks for Clint Bowyer, the #33 team, Richard Childress Racing, the NASCAR community and the fans. I’m even shocked and that doesn’t normally happen.

This whole episode started first after Richmond with NASCAR telling the RCR #33 team that there Richmond car was close to failing tech. But it would go from a huge high the next Sunday with Clint Bowyer winning the first chase race in New Hampshire to an even bigger low three days later (Wednesday) as NASCAR dropped the hammer on RCR and the #33 team with a big chase crushing penalty.

Clint Bowyer, the #33 team and RCR would receive: The crew chief and car chief would be suspended for 6-races, the crew chief would be fined $150k and 150 driver and owner points.

This penalty and the lack of information from NASCAR set the NASCAR community and especially the fans into a tailspin. The media for the most part didn’t know what happened or how to explain it and the fans were very frustrated. I believe that this was the latest incident of many that just left some fans saying goodbye and it shows in the attendance and TV ratings. This was a turn off.

We hadn’t seen a penalty like this from NASCAR in a while.

Note: I remember the Clint Bowyer victory at New Hampshire back in 2007. You see I remember that race because I was not only at the race, but guests of Kevin Harvick’s sponsor Shell-Pennzoil and sitting the the #29 pit box. It was a great win for Bowyer that day. But it was sad to see that that victory didn’t have the same effect, a good final points standing finish.

Now of course RCR has gone through two appeals processes, the first was last week, Richard Childress would plead his case to a 3-person panel that in the end upheld the penalty. One week later, Richard Childress would make one final attempt to get the penalty over turned by appealing NASCAR’s new Chief Appellate Office, John Middlebrook.

According to the press release, Middlebrook ended up reducing Crew chief Shane Wilson’s fine from $150,000 to $100,000 and Wilson and car chief Chad Haney’s race suspensions from six to four. Both are suspended from NASCAR until Nov. 3 and are on probation until Dec. 31. But the big one, the loss of 150 championship owner and driver points remains intact.

At the end of the day in my eyes, this was a loss-loss situation for everybody involved. Bowyer-RCR lost there two appeals and a realistically chance at winning the chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. And NASCAR lost in the eyes of NASCAR fan not just because of the penalty, but more so on the way they handled this penalty with the fans.

I wish NASCAR would realize that the fans are important too and that they have to take time out and explain to us what exactly is going on.

With that said, I have to say that I don’t like the idea that a car can pass tech at the racetrack (namely in this case New Hampshire), but fail two days later at the R&D Center. I know that NASCAR can’t do all inspections at the track, but this is terrible. Like Dave Despain said on WindTunnel last Sunday night, what happens if the championship car fails post tech at the R&D Center two days after Homestead and the Champion is already crowned, that is ridiculous, terrible for the sport and confusing for the fans.

I also believe what happened was that when Clint Bowyer’s #33 car arrived at New Hampshire, it was on the edge of being illegal with tolerances. That is how the crew chief and/or car chief set it up. However after the race, I believe that factoring in several factors, the car was illegal period with no room for movement and NASCAR had ever right to give Bowyer and RCR a 150/150/150 penalty. I would have felt different if the infraction of how the body was married to the chassis was 6-thousands of an inch off, but it was 60-thousands off, that’s huge especially in NASCAR in this day and age when everything is so close.

But the way that NASCAR failed in the eyes of fans was that they didn’t explain everything to the fans themselves. On Sunday night after New Hampshire, the #33 past tech. However two days later, it failed, what??? A lot of fans asked how? I even answered questions within my family and friends on this, but I had little answers.

Of course NASCAR did get on TV and explain it a little bit, but most NASCAR fans aren’t technical nor am I for that matter and had no idea or concept of what happened. Even the media didn’t have all of the information. NASCAR was more concerned about winning the appeal, then explaining to the fans what was going on. And that where NASCAR lost, with the fans.

The bottom in is that Bowyer-RCR lost both appeals and NASCAR lost in the eyes of some NASCAR fans period. NASCAR needs to be more transparent with fans, otherwise fans in general will be turned off.