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.February 12, 2011 8:24 am UTC 3 Comments
Annett takes over the #62 Nationwide Series ride for owner Rusty Wallace that Brendan Gaughan drove in 2010. Once again NASCAR is showing how two-faced it can be with its drug/alcohol policy.
Annett was charged with DUI after being involved in a traffic accident and blowing a .32 when the legal limit is a .08; four times the legal limit. He has not had his day in court; so all the innocent until proven guilty talk is still appropriate. However; that fact has not deterred NASCAR in the past from “suspending now and asking questions later” when a driver or crew member has connection to drugs instead of alcohol.
Drivers have been to quick to chastise their own when the talk of drugs are associated with them. Annett’s probation doesn’t seem to be raising the same ire of his fellow drivers. Arguements have always been that drivers have to rely on the good judgment of their competitors while at speed on the track.
How can Annett’s competitors feel confident on the track racing him at Daytona where on-track speeds hover near the 200 mph mark? NASCAR has indicated that along with the probation they may ask Annett to participate in random drug/alcohol testing. Isn’t that NASCAR’s standard procedure?
Maybe having Rusty Wallace proclaim that Annett, “doesn’t have an alcohol problem” is enough for NASCAR officials, drivers and crews to have confidence in Annett’s decision making. Along with Wallace’s car ownership and his TV work he must also have become an expert in alcoholism detection and treatment. Wallace refused to suspend his driver because he was afraid to loose sponsorship money needed to fund his Rusty Wallace Racing teams.
Annett brought with him a sponsorship deal and without Annett in the car that sponsorship money, in theory, would be gone. What this gets down to is Pilot Travel Centers is running RWR and if the sponsor is running the team; then in essence that sponsor is running NASCAR and the decisions it makes.
Once again NASCAR has brought its credibility into question. The NFL has had no problem suspending its stars for questionable off field activities; just ask Ben Rothlisberger or Michael Vick. We all know that NASCAR continually compares itself to the football league; so why not now?
Annett should have been suspended for a period of time to investigate the incident and his ability to make decisions on the race track. And he should have to be evaluated by someone other than his unqualified team owner. Blowing four times the legal limit is not having an extra beer at a party. It is serious over consumption.
At least some of Annett’s competitors have to be wonder about their safety when they take the track with him out there…and that just isn’t right.
photo credit: Icon Sports Media
by Chris Leone, Special To NASCAR commentary and driver pictures, 2012 NASCAR schedule, video, Bench Racing With Steve and Charlie
I do weekly Fantasy Pick'Em columns here at OPR, as well as the occasional opinion and analysis piece. I also provide the IZOD IndyCar Series coverage. For more on that, head to my site, OpenWheelAmerica.com. My Twitter handle is @christopherlion.June 14, 2009 7:39 pm UTC No Comments
It’s old news now, but last week’s suspension of Nationwide Series crew chief Bryan Berry for allegedly yelling a racial slur at African-American driver Marc Davis certainly turned a lot of heads around the sport. NASCAR is still having issues with diversity, with virtually all of its drivers still white males, the lingering effects of the Mauricia Grant case, and even a weak rumor of an NAACP boycott of the sport due to the continued presence of the Confederate flag on motorhomes.
So when Davis took out Berry’s driver, Brendan Gaughan, at last week’s Nationwide race in Nashville, and the alleged war of words occurred, it was no shock that NASCAR handed out an indefinite suspension to the offender. Racism is a touchy subject in NASCAR, and racial epithets are not okay, nor should they be, especially when the sport is trying to grow out of its Southern roots and attract a diverse crowd.
What was shocking, however, was Harry Davis, the father of Marc Davis, calling Gaughan’s owner, Rusty Wallace, to apologize – for Gaughan’s actions. Davis told Scene Daily yesterday that Gaughan’s anger, as well as commenting that Georgetown University (Gaughan’s alma mater) was superior to Howard University (a historically black college that sponsors Davis), “inflamed” the situation.
Certainly, a bigger deal was made out of the situation than was necessary. Gaughan wasn’t on the lead lap or contending for the win, although he was still in the top 20. He and Berry could have done better to restrain themselves after the incident, as heavy as the damage to their car was. Certainly, Wallace won’t tolerate team members who don’t conduct themselves as professionals (even if the 1989 Winston attests to his crews having a history of scuffling).
But Harry Davis placing the entirety of the blame for the incident on Gaughan crossed a line. It implied a lot of things – first and foremost, that Davis was completely free of blame in the wreck. Watch the incident – that’s not the case.
Gaughan was still in the race, and while a lapped car, still contending for points and a championship. Davis was pulling into the garage and is running a limited schedule. The right of way should have gone to the competitive car. Davis should have let Gaughan by before turning. It wouldn’t have caused a jam on pit road, as there were no cars within a football field behind them. Especially if there are multiple turn-ins to the garage, the fault – at least on track – goes completely to Davis.
Second, it implied that Harry Davis is willing to continually cite race (as in skin color, not cars driving in circles) in reference to his son’s career, and therein lies the bigger problem. The best way to make the issue of race in NASCAR go away is to brush off and forgive the ignorant comments, rather than use them to attack the character of those who make them. That phone call did nothing but prolong the conflict, one that should have ended right when NASCAR handed down the suspension.
Now, if everything that’s alleged to have been said was really said, there’s no excuse for the conduct of the No. 62 team. But saying his apology was for Gaughan’s actions only will hurt Harry Davis, and in turn it will likely hurt the racing career of his son. Owners will probably think twice now before giving Marc a shot, knowing that if another similar incident goes down, his defense of his son may cross similar lines. Sponsors, believing that the issue of race will continue to be a factor in Davis’ racing career, may not want to back him, seeing their names on TV if another conflict breaks out.
This is an incredibly touchy subject, and I don’t want to be taken the wrong way. I am in no way defending anything that Berry or Gaughan said. If Berry used a racial epithet, then he deserves a forced break from the sport. Gaughan, too, might have deserved a suspension. I also believe that in the right equipment, Marc Davis will be a solid Sprint Cup driver someday, and that he simply made a rookie mistake. But Harry Davis’ actions were out of line – not as much as Gaughan’s or Berry’s, but out of line nonetheless.
Let’s hope that in the future, all parties will do a better job of conducting themselves – at and away from the track.
by Matt Mercer, Special To NASCAR commentary and driver pictures, 2012 NASCAR schedule, video, Bench Racing With Steve and Charlie
I'm the former blogger of The Catfish Show NASCAR Blog and a contributor to On Pit Row. Follow me on Twitter: @mattmercerNovember 13, 2008 2:10 am UTC 3 Comments
Sometimes, I can’t tell if the Ford 200 is a race or a fight. An active tradition for the last several years in the Trucks has been for championship teams to double their efforts. The trend has had some high points and very low points, and it looks to continue Friday night as the razor-thin margin between Ron Hornaday and Johnny Benson will make for some intense racing.
Three years really set the trend for this action: 2002, 2003, and 2007.
In 2002, Mike Bliss ended up winning the championship over Rick Crawford and Ted Musgrave by 46 and 51 points respectively. In that race, it was Ron Hornaday driving a second IWX truck and taking the win, thus taking possible points away from Crawford and Musgrave. Bliss finished a comfortable 5th and won the title.
2003 set the bar from gang mentality, as each championship team (with the exception of Dennis Setzer and Morgan-Dollar) entered at least 1 extra truck in the race, with Jim Smith and Ultra Motorsports throwing 5 – count ‘em, 5 – trucks in the race, and sure enough one of them played a huge part in the outcome of the championship battle. Smith had entered his 2 full-time trucks with Ted Musgrave and Andy Houston behind the wheel, along with hired guns Marty Houston (Andy’s brother), Tracy Hines, and P.J. Jones. Marty took out championship leader Brendan Gaughan in the race, creating championship chaos that allowed Travis Kvapil to win the 2003 title over Setzer and Musgrave.
Last year, Bill Davis and Kevin Harvick participated in the fight, and what Harvick lacked in trucks he made up for by piloting the second truck himself. Davis entered his championship contender Skinner, Johnny Benson, Jacques Villeneuve, and Cup driver Dave Blaney in the field. Skinner of course finished 35th and allowed Hornaday to secure the title.
Adding the trucks in the finale could prove to be a smart decision, like it was in 2002. It could take out a championship contender by hiring a crappy driver, like 2003. Or, it could be a non-factor, like it was last season. Harvick is driving the #2 truck again this weekend and Davis has entered ’09 driver Taylor Malsam in an extra truck to go along Skinner, Brian Scott, and Scott Speed to flank Benson. Will it be a factor? We’ll find out Friday. Let’s just say I wouldn’t be surprised if the Phoenix race turned out to be the PG version of the battle.
Photo credit: Icon Sports Media