September 29, 2010
OK, so NASCAR has ruled against Clint Bowyer and Richard Childress Racing. Apparently the three-person appeal panel — comprised of former driver Lyn St. James, former crew chief Waddell Wilson and former USAC official Johnny Capels — was so unimpressed with Childress' case that the decision was unanimous against him.
In some circles, the unanimity of a decision might bolster the guilty verdict. But this isn't most circles. This is NASCAR Nation, where conspiracy theories are part of the daily conversation. And while it may be logical to wonder how a wrecker, which nudged Bowyer with little more than a love tap, could have knocked the height of a race car from legal to illegal, we'll let you make the call on who makes the better case to the public.
First, here's Childress' case, made by expert witness Dr. Charles Manning, owner of an accident reconstruction company:
"We instrumented the car very carefully with strain gauges and with displacement gauges. We took a car that was identical to the one at Loudon. We pushed it with a wrecker that was the same as Loudon. We measured it. There was plastic deformation, yielding when we pushed it, 40-thousandths [of an inch] and the car was only 39-thousandts out of specification. It tells you clearly that it wasn't out of specification before he burned out, ran out of gas and then got pushed. That's exactly what caused the accident. I gave them reports, scientific reports and we go to court and testify all the time and they paid no attention, which says something about what was going on in there."
Now, here's NASCAR's take from Sprint Cup director John Darby:
"All of the facts we used to issue NASCAR's original penalty were just displayed to the three other people on the panel. They asked a lot of questions. They are very informed people and they were definitely on track to collect all the information."
Now, Manning fails to explain how he managed to recreate the exact same amount of pressure applied to Bowyer's bumper in New Hampshire. And according to the statement from the appeals panel, there seemed to be a discrepancy between what Manning said — that a wrecker could have caused damage on the left side of Bowyer's car but not the right side — and what NASCAR found — that both the left and right side were high. But at least Manning makes an attempt at an explanation while NASCAR leaves it up to you to trust them that they got it right. And the reality is, there ain't a lot of trust out there.
So while NASCAR officials may be 100 percent right about Childress being wrong, it's still on them to prove it to the public. And so far, they haven't done a very good job of doing that, at least not out from behind closed doors.
What's your take?
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