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Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Performance Enhancements in NASCAR

AP auto racing writer, Jenna Fryer, reports that NASCAR, in an effort to crack down on cheaters, made its strongest statement to date by suspending the crew chiefs for drivers Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Scott Riggs and Elliott Sadler and docked all four drivers points before the season-opening Daytona 500 ("Crew Chiefs Suspended for Daytona 500"). All four cars failed qualifying inspection. Two of the crew chiefs each received a 4-race suspension and a $50,000 fine, and the other two each received a 2-race suspension and a $25,000 fine. According to Fryer, "all four drivers will start the season with negative points - a move that most likely infuriated the teams, but sent a strong message that NASCAR will no longer tolerate rule-breakers." Another driver, Michael Waltrip, who had a car part seized and shipped back to North Carolina for further analysis, is also under investigation.

Here are some excerpts from the article:
But after three cars failed inspection during Sunday's qualifying session, NASCAR decided it had up the ante to deter teams from continuously pushing the envelope....Still, NASCAR stopped short of kicking the teams out of the race, a move many believe would be the ultimate punishment. "We're going to get tough with the competitors when they push the credibility of the sport," France said Tuesday during his state of the sport address.... Kenseth and Kahne had their qualifying times thrown out after inspectors discovered illegal holes in the wheel wells, which could have improved aerodynamics. Evernham maintained the holes had been covered with duct tape that apparently fell off before the Dodge was inspected. But Pemberton said NASCAR believed the tape had been cut. Riggs and Sadler's cars both had modifications that allowed air to leak out of the trunk area. It was discovered before qualifying and had not been announced by NASCAR before Tuesday. Waltrip, meanwhile, had a suspicious substance in the intake manifold of his Camry. The part was seized before qualifying, and the car was impounded after the session.
Reading the article, I couldn't help but draw some analogies to steroid usage. So I wonder what the future has in store for NASCAR? Fast forward ten years from now:
  • Congress calls upon NASCAR to inspect cars more frequently and impose stiffer penalties upon drivers. According to one congressman, "It's outrageous that NASCAR for years has failed to include nitroid on its list of banned parts. I can remember the days when Dale Earnhardt's only competitive advantage was a fresh can of Quaker State."

  • Despite the fact that Danika Patrick's car has never been inspected positively for nitroid usage, NASCAR fans begin to seriously question her success in recent years, especially her string of consecutive Nextel Cup titles. One sports writer notes that Patrick was never that successful in her early racing years and says that "she never exhibited those sudden bursts of acceleration at the finish line like she does today." However, Patrick insists that she has become a much more experienced driver on the track over time as a result of vigorous training and participation in many championship racing events. Patrick has lost many endorsement opportunities and it's questionable whether she will ever be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

  • Two sports writers from Daytona Beach publish a book entitled, "A Race of Shadows," which includes anonymous individuals who assert that Jeff Gordon has been using nitroid in recent years despite the lack of any positive inspections. The speculation has become so great that reports have surfaced that the France family may not attend the race in which Gordon will surpass Richard Petty for the most wins.

  • Gordon testifies in front of a grand jury that he thought he was pouring fuel cleaner in his car, not nitroid. Thereafter, federal investigators raid the computers of Gordon's mechanics and in the process confiscate thousands of computer files on other drivers' cars. Congress imposes mandatory nitroid inspections, and the Supreme Court for the first time addresses the issue of whether a car is "an extension of oneself" for purposes of the Fourth Amendment.


A genuinely fun analogy! In contrast to my dogmatic views against performance-enhancing drugs in sports, I kind of love the ingeunity put into NASCAR tricks. A fun book called Driving with the Devil really details the early origins of the sleight-of-hand, hollowing out parts and casting pieces in aluminum . . .

Blogger gorjus -- 2/14/2007 2:35 PM  

Nascar is NOT a sport!!!!! Let's hope the government never wastes its time on any issue related to Nascar.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 2/15/2007 11:07 AM  

It's the same in every racing category. F1 has a long history of cheating, but it's kept under wraps or named something else. In F1 it's mostly about aerodynamics, like in this case with Nascar. But in F1 teams are "asked" to push the envelope in a certain sense, aren't they? It's all about who is one step ahead, although that could change in order to make the series more competitive.

The difference is, of course, that NASCAR, like champ car racing, features cars that are almost identical to one another when compared to F1 cars. So while technical break-through is a condition of F1 racing, could it be that conformity is more of a value in NASCAR and hence the vigorous application of these rules?

Blogger Luis Cassiano Neves -- 2/15/2007 11:46 AM  

Sports law is an umbrella term used to describe the legal issues at work in the world of both amateur and professional sports. Sports law overlaps substantially with labor law, contract law, antitrust law, and tort law. Issues like defamation and privacy rights are also an integral aspect of sports law. The area of law was established as a separate and important entity only a few decades ago, coinciding with the rise of player-agents and increased media scrutiny of sports law topics.
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Blogger valrossie -- 9/11/2008 12:51 AM  

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