NASCAR seems to be arbitrary |

NASCAR seems to be arbitrary

Roger Diez
Nevada Appeal Motorsports Columnist

I found it curious when the NASCAR penalties were announced for Carl Edwards and crew chief Bob Osborne due to a technical infraction after last Sunday’s Dover race.

It seems to me that NASCAR has stated that infractions regarding the Car of Tomorrow would be dealt with harshly and consistently. Hence the 100-point penalties and $100,000 fines levied on Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmy Johnson, and Jeff Gordon, their teams, and crew chiefs earlier in the season.

But when Edwards’ car failed post-race inspection at Dover for being too low in the right rear, Edwards and Roush Fenway Racing were penalized 25 driver and owner points, and Osborne received a $25,000 penalty and was put on probation until the end of the year. The points penalty dropped Edwards from third to sixth in the Chase for the Championship.

Is the lighter penalty because we are now in the Chase? Is probation for Osborne equivalent to the suspensions that Chad Knaus, Tony Eury Jr., and Steve Letarte received? It seems to me that the only thing consistent about NASCAR’s rules is the inconsistency with which they are applied. I suspect that if it had been a NASCAR official instead of Moses coming down the mountain with the tablets, they would have been termed The 10 Guidelines, not the 10 Commandments.

In other NASCAR news, it appears that Jacques Villeneuve has accelerated his program with Bill Davis Racing, and will now attempt to qualify for next week’s Talladega Cup race. Villeneuve qualified seventh and finished 21st in his Craftsman Truck race debut last weekend, and was originally scheduled to run both the ARCA and Truck races at Talladega.

But after a successful Car of Tomorrow test at the longest oval on the NASCAR schedule, including running well in drafting situations, NASCAR gave approval for the former open-wheel star to enter the Cup race as well. While crew chief Slugger Labbe thinks his driver can make the field at Talladega, others aren’t so sure. Kyle Busch weighed in with the opinion that Talladega is no place for a “rookie” to test his skills.

“Holy cow, that’s not good,” said Busch. “You’ve got to start somewhere but the Cup Series at Talladega definitely isn’t the place to start.”

Excuse me, Kyle, but may I remind you that Villeneuve was winning the Indy 500 and the CART and F1 championships while you were still in junior high? I think he’s probably a bit more talented and experienced than your typical NASCAR beginner.

The Formula One race from Japan will be in the history books by the time you read this. The McLaren drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, started from the front row after a wet qualifying session. Both are top contenders for the drivers’ championship although McLaren is barred from competing in the manufacturers’ title chase.

This season has been dominated by two teams, as is often the case in F1. This year it is the McLaren and Ferrari teams, but who knows what will happen in 2008? But given this season’s dominance, you might think a driver would be crazy to leave on of those teams. But departure is rumored to be on the mind of Alonso, who refuses to discuss the subject with anyone in the media.

There has been friction between Alonso and the team since the World Motor Sport Council hearing in Paris that stripped McLaren of its manufacturers’ points, based partly on Alonso’s testimony. So if he is looking for a friendlier environment, a move might be a good thing.

It was also reported that Lewis Hamilton has signed a five-year, $110 million deal with McLaren, negotiated by the young driver’s father, who is also his business manager. I wonder if he’d like to negotiate a new contract for me with the Appeal?

As part of my job I receive lots of e-mails from various racing organizations, but probably the most ridiculous one I have gotten lately had to be the bulletin from the IndyCar Series, exhorting me to go online and cast my vote for Helio Castroneves, who is competing on “Dancing with the Stars.” Yep, I’m gonna jump right online and do that.