The Richard Childress Racing tire tampering soap opera seems to be over, at least as far as fighting it out in auto racing court. Richard Childress, owner of the No. 31 Sprint Cup Series team at the center of this mess, exhausted his final shot at appeal May 6 when he pleaded his case to National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer Bryan Moss.
In case you haven’t heard, Moss decided to uphold the penalties decided on by the National Motorsports Appeals Panel last month — a $75,000 fines, six-race suspensions for crew chief Luke Lambert and two other team members, and 50-point deductions for Childress and driver Ryan Newman. Those penalties reflected a decrease in penalties originally issued by NASCAR for the modified tires taken from the No. 31 team at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., in March. NASCAR originally set the fine at $125,000 and docked Childress and Newman 75 points apiece.
I don’t see an issue with the penalties. My bone of contention, if you want to call it that, is with the statement Childress made after Moss’ decision was announced. He said:
“We do not agree with the final appeal ruling. We feel we had a compelling case and still feel we were in the right and the facts presented today would have proved that. We do appreciate the opportunity to be heard.
“We stand behind our suspended team members and look forward to their return. We will now move on and continue our goals of winning races and making the Chase for the championship.”
Maybe it’s just me, and maybe I’m reading too much into this statement, but does “still feel we were in the right and the facts presented today would have proved that” mean that he thinks his team did nothing wrong?
A third party found that there was some tire twerking going on somewhere. Is RCR suggesting that someone not affiliated with his team snuck and did something to his tires? This modification was an advantageous one and who knew ahead of time that his No. 31 team would be among those to have tires taken? Would a competitor be sneaky in an effort to help the No. 31 team? I doubt it.
Okay, I was being a bit sarcastic there. Judging by the team’s defense in front of the Appeals Panel, it seemd RCR was trying to get penalties reduced or eliminated by arguing over the meaning of the term “post-race inspection.”
RCR’s arguement in that appeal was that the fines were issued because of a rules violation that was discovered in “post-race inspection” but that the tires were taken during the race, not after it.
Honestly, the arguement sort of reminds me of the Bill Clinton presidency when “Slick Willy” was trying to avoid admitting to affairs. Just saying.
If we’re going to, as they say, “split hairs” here, the violation was found during a “post-race” inspection, no matter when the tires were taken. “Post-race” means after the race. Don’t believe me? Look it up. And the modifications found by the third party were found after the race, even if the tires studied were taken during the race.
I understand a team’s attempt to get penalties reduced, or if at all possible, erased. I guess I can admire that determination. But as some point, maybe it’s just best to suck it up and admit guilt and take your medicine.
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