Saturday, May 11, 2013

Helton Says Clarity Needed In NASCAR Rule Book

NASCAR president Mike Helton told reporters yesterday that the sanctioning body will not change its approach in the aftermath of recent decisions by the National Stock Car Racing Commission and its chief appellate officer, John Middlebrook, to dramatically reduce penalties assessed to race teams for various rules violations.

This week, the commission handed NASCAR the latest in a series of setbacks, slashing penalties to Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota team and driver Matt Kenseth.  The previous day, Middlebrook reduced lengthy suspensions assessed to seven Penske Racing personnel.  Friday at Darlington Raceway, Helton spoke defiantly of the reversal, saying, “I don't feel like this in anyway undermines what we do.
“I don’t feel like this, in any way, undermines what we do,” said Helton. “In most cases, the process doesn't come back with anything that changes our mind. We do our job, and the due process exists… to have an opportunity for others to listen (before) decisions are made."
Helton made no secret of NASCAR’s unhappiness with the ruling, adding that the sanctioning body would rule similarly if faced with similar violations in the future. But with Middlebrook siding against NASCAR in five of his last six decisions, Helton admitted that more specificity may be needed in the NASCAR rulebook to eliminate potential gray areas.
“The integrity of the appeal process needs to be maintained, independent of the regulating arm of NASCAR,'' said Helton. “But we do learn from the appeal process, as to how we may be able to… be more clear, so that you can show a third party why we reacted the way we reacted.

“If there is a way for us to be more precise in changing or adding wording to a rule, so that the clarity… is obvious to anybody from the outside, I think that’s where we benefit and the sport benefits. (The Rule Book) doesn’t necessarily have to be thicker, (but) to be more clear.
“I think there is evidence that NASCAR -- particularly in the last decade or so – (has tried) to be more clear with things. Every experience we go through gives us the ability to understand what `more clear’ means.’’


  1. Dipship11:06 PM

    My opinion, NASCAR start actually going after the actual offender, not just randomly fining driver, crew chief, owners etc. for a specific violation. In other words, if the violation is "specific" make the penalty specific to the actual offender.
    I know we aren't "allowed" to compare NASCAR to other stick and ball sports, BUT, when a player is ejected in baseball, the ump doesn't walk over to the dugout and fine the manager, then send up a fine to the owner? No, the player is ejected and the game goes on. When a player in the NFL, MLB etc. is caught with PED's does the manger and owner get fined? Nope, just the actual offender gets the violation. NASCAR has to start fining the actual violators, like with JGR and the Toyota engine issue, Fine Toyota heavily, I'm talking in 6-7 $ digits. I see the point NASCAR try's to make by fining driver, crew chief's and owners, but that point is as blunt as a blimps nose. If a team is caught cheating, then NASCAR must enforce the rules, but investigate, find out who actually cheated and fine the bleep out of them. I just think the NASCAR way of fining everybody who just happened to be there is stupid and ineffective.

  2. Anonymous12:32 PM

    The team is ultimately responsible for the car/equipment they bring to the track. Their decision to use an outside vendor for anything is theirs alone. NASCAR doesn't have the ability to enforce fines or panalties against an outside vendor under the current rules and in my opinion probably should not going forward. Those decisions are simply business decisions between a team and a supplier.

    If a team uses a part or component from an outside source that is found illegal, the team can go back after the supplier through negotiation and or legal actions to recover their damages. In this case TRD already stepped up and said they would pay the fine. Does that say that Roush Yates, Hendrick or ECR would do the same if it was one of their engines? No one can say for sure, but it has set a precedent.

    The system isn't flawed as it stands, there is just a change in some factors, like a limited number of engine suppliers compared to teams building their own engines over the years. I don't believe that trend will be reversed significantly by this incident since the underlying reason for the direction teams have gone is mostly economics driven.