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NASCAR makes a move on suspended Crew Chiefs

In a followup to my earlier Where is your crew chief story, NASCAR has now come out and clarified their policy on suspended crew chiefs, no longer allowing them to be on the grounds of the racetrack during races.

Brian France had warned teams earlier in the week that NASCAR would be acting to stop the current practices, which have included Dale Earnhardt Jr’s suspended crew chief Tony Eury Jr being spotted in a motorhome at New Hampshire, while apparently being in constant contact with the team.

NASCAR vice president of corporate communications Jim Hunter was quoted at Daytona on Thursday, saying that NASCAR will police suspended crew chiefs so they do not get around their penalties and do actually serve them properly.

"We’re going to handle this the way we’ve handled it in the past, with (Nextel Cup Series director) John Darby and (vice president of competition) Robin Pemberton informing the crew chiefs," Hunter said. "Instead of ‘Yeah, you can do that,’ it’s ‘No, you can’t do that any more.’

"We want to take away the perception that they’re circumventing the penalty, that the penalty doesn’t mean anything because they’re still on site. With people thinking that this is a circumvention of the penalty, the next step is, ‘What do you do about it?’ "

Hunter also asked for support from the fans and the media to help them police that suspensions are rightfully served by these guys.

"The old days are gone," Hunter added. "Everybody likes to write all these stories about how it’s part of NASCAR to get around the rules and all that sort of thing. There’s plenty of areas for guys to still be innovative and creative without breaking the rules."

Well, this is an interesting move by NASCAR, and to a degree I applaud it, however NASCAR is going to have to show some real muscle to get this enforced. With communications as advanced as they are these days, NASCAR only needs to take a look across to Formula One where data and communications are routed from the track, back to various factory based engineers, even in different remote locations in real time. Sure NASCAR do not allow telemetry on the cars during races, but it still does not stop a crew chief sitting back at team headquarters, or anywhere else for that matter analysing and relaying information in real time.

If NASCAR are serious about this, and they do appear to be, they really need to allow the suspended crew chiefs to attend the track, but not to work with their teams, but rather NASCAR should either have them come and sit with NASCAR in "time out" or NASCAR should use these guys and put them to work somehow
within the NASCAR organisation, I’m not sure how, but then that’s up to NASCAR.

Having the suspended crew chiefs together in one place where NASCAR knows exactly where they are is the only solution, and probably the one NASCAR will be forced to do, after they spend a few weeks with these guys getting around the suspensions again.

Let me know your thoughts on this, leave a comment below (this is a nofollow free zone!)


Some Great NASCAR Reading

In The Wildest Ride: A History of NASCAR, Joe Menzer traces the vivid history of stock car racing from when bootleggers drove hopped-up cars to outrun the law for fun and profit to the present racing frenzy that has thrust NASCAR to the front of the pack as one of America’s fastest-growing sports industries.

The result of Menzer’s research is not dry prose filled with racing statistics but rather a loose chronology of anecdotes that reads like an oral history. Legendary finishes, rivalries, and rags-to-riches success stories are championed here, including the exploits of Joe Weatherly and Curtis Turner (both on and off the track) and the personalities of David Pearson, Bill Elliott, and the Petty family. Menzer does not back off from the low points either, from Wendell Scott’s experience as the first African American driver to the unhealthy mix of stock cars and alcohol (often at the same time).

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