by Steve Wronkowicz
I am co-host of the syndicated radio show: ON PIT ROW. Over ten years on the air and three on the net; see what can happen when I don't let the facts get in the way of my opinions.June 6, 2009 9:16 am UTC 3 Comments
How much bad PR is NASCAR willing to foist upon itself?
The court of public opinion, for the most part, has not been kind to NASCAR in light of recent penalties waged on small teams. Jeremy Mayfield’s drug test, Carl Long‘s fine and suspension along with Robby Gordon’s fines sure look like NASCAR is singling out the little guy.
NASCAR is not admitting to any type of favoritism to its larger teams, but it is hard for the casual fan to wonder about all the suspensions and fines that were levied against Hendrick Motor Sports and their crew chiefs, Chad Knaus and Steve Letarte. HMS was on a two year run of fines and suspensions that were no where near the severity that has been levied against Long.
NASCAR has not fared well in the fan’s perception of how they have handled the entire Jeremy Mayfield situation. From not having a list of banned substances to allowing Mayfield access to the race track after he was banned, NASCAR has looked foolish at times during this process. Mayfield may be guilty of what NASCAR alleges, but even if he is, NASCAR has positioned itself to be the bad guy.
Mayfield filed a lawsuit to regain his rights to drive and own a race car. This is a logical step and one that fans can see the merits in. It is the American way to fight for what you believe in and Mayfield is using the court system to try and accomplish that. But what has NASCAR done?
First they petition to have the hearing moved to Federal court thus delaying the proceedings that would have brought the matter to a timely conclusion. Now to add even more bad press and to further sway the public’s opinion toward NASCAR’s persecution of the little guy they file a counter suit against Mayfield.
In that counter suit they claim Mayfield willfully violated the substance abuse policy, breached his NASCAR contract and of defrauding competitors of earnings. David Newton at ESPN.com has a great article on the legal wranglings and is definitely worth the read. The counter suit on NASCAR’s part smells more of revenge seeking.
With all that NASCAR has been trying to do in the past three weeks to try and show fans that they are concerned over the product they are putting out, why would they revert to the pettiness of a counter suit?
NASCAR does not want drivers, owners, crew members or anyone else involved in the sport to question their decisions and directives. Carl Long, after his appeal was denied talked about the fatherly way the sport had been run under Bills Senior and Junior and how it is no longer so. The first two France family members had a feel for how to run a business where all of it’s stars are independent contractors. The current regime seems to have forgotten that the fans come to watch those independant contractors; not NASCR officials.
To paraphrase from baseball; “How do you know if a NASCAR official did a good job? Because you never noticed he was there.”
Brian France and the entire NASCAR heirarchy is getting noticed way too much. And much of that notice is their own fault.
photo credit: Icon Sports Media