NASCAR Vice President for Competition Robin Pemberton said Richard Childress Racing’s allegedly altered wheels at New Hampshire should have been a non-issue. Pemberton said virtually every team owner in NASCAR called to ask about the report Monday, worried that Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton had enjoyed an unfair advantage over the competition.
"They all want to make sure (they weren’t) racing against it,'' said Pemberton Friday at Dover. "Once we explained everything -- that there was no way it happened -- everybody was really happy with it. It was an incredible waste of time and energy on everybody's part.''
Pemberton confirmed what both Kevin Harvick and Richard Childress said last week; that Goodyear’s policy of mounting tires randomly on each team’s rims would almost certainly preclude anyone from knowing which wheels would be bolted on the right-front from week to week. He also revealed that officials perform random air pressure checks throughout each race weekend, even submerging tire-and-wheel assemblies in water to check for leaks.
Harvick's crewchief, Todd Berrier, said he and his team have too much on the line to push the envelope on rules, saying, “We're all in a position…that we have way too much to lose to take a chance like that.”
Berrier also said that a ploy like is being alleged would take someone much smarter than him to implement, adding, "If you're smart enough to figure out how to control something like that that is not mechanical, you're pretty sharp. Obviously, I need to be farming, and these other people need to be building space shuttles.”
In an exclusive conversation Saturday, SPEED reporter Bob Dillner revealed that he actually had two sources for his controversial story, and that both sources stand behind what they told him last Sunday. “I have talked to both of them three times since this all happened,” said Dillner, “and both of them are confident that they got it right.” Dillner said he has remained largely silent during the controversy at the urging of the network.
“Their attitude is, `you reported the story, you believed it to be true, and your sources stand behind it. That’s all that needs to be said,’ said Dillner, admitting that the last seven days have been, “about the longest of my life.”
Jeff Burton spoke out on the matter again Friday, repeating his earlier contention that Dillner had not done the proper amount of investigation before airing the story.
“Bob’s sources are Bob’s sources, and I’m not going to get into that because it’s unfair to Bob,” said Burton. “But if a team did it, it’s highly unethical. When you’re five years old and you tell a lie, you get your hand smacked. You’re taught at an early age that it’s wrong to lie, and someone lied to Bob Dillner, no question about it. Someone should have woke up feeling bad about themselves, and if their mother did a good job raising them, they would have woke up feeling bad about themselves.”
Burton said he has no issue with Dillner personally, saying, “Bob’s an ethical guy, and he didn’t make this story up. In retrospect, though, he should have gone the extra step – after he reported it – to figure out if it was reported correctly or not. Being that NASCAR and the teams were all saying it didn’t happen, I think Bob could have done an investigation of where are our wheels, do we have the same wheels? And to my knowledge, that didn’t happen. But the biggest thing was that somebody boldfaced, blatantly lied to create a story that…we didn’t deserve to be part of.”
Burton also said that anyone who believes that NASCAR and RCR are colluding to cover up the story should find something else to do with their weekends.
“If our sport doesn’t have the ability to separate fact from fiction, then our sport is in major, major trouble,” he said. “If that’s what you believe, as a journalist or a fan, than you shouldn’t be involved in this sport. If people think NASCAR judges and rules with those ethics in 2006 – with all they have to lose – the best thing that person can do is walk away from the sport.”