I was on the fence the last time I wrote about NASCAR. Yeah, I am finished with it now. I might revisit the topic as the Daytona 500 rolls around, because lets face it, I am a fan. I have been listening to NASCAR races on the radio since the mid 80's, and watching races (my first was Richmond) on television since 89, and have been to several NASCAR events since the 90's. But, I am finished after this last escapade...
As seen here I had plenty of thoughts about what should be done about the events after the race at Charlotte. I suspected at that time that I would be part of a very vocal minority. So, Tuesday rolls around, penlites and fines are handed down by NASCAR, as always.
Keselowski for his part was fined $50,000.00. Stewart was fined $25,000.00. Both are on probation for the next four races. Kenseth and Hamlin walked, without fines or penalties. And this is where my issues start. I am less upset about Kenseth and Hamlin not being penalized or fined than I am with how this played out with Keselowski. In a very unusual twist of fate, there are more people who actually agree with some things I have said outside of this blog.
Lets be honest, Keselowski is a huge name in NASCAR. The guy drives for a premiere team, he has won races, usually places well. 50k is a drop in the bucket for him. But also keep some other things in mind. Keselowski is about 30 years old, just three years younger than I am. In 7 years he has a rap sheet of incidents in the Cup Series longer than many people who have been in the sport for two or more decades. Like many people who grow up and come into money, he has never adapted to that status in the proper way. He has money, he has prestige and he thinks it gives him a pass.
So, a 50K fine does nothing in my book to settle him down any. Look, the deal with being on probation is supposed to give NASCAR the ability to flag someone for misbehaving. And has been pointed out by many of his supporters and fans, suspensions come after being placed on probation, but the incidents after the Charlotte race were well beyond the typical behavior exhibited previously. Sure he is young and reckless, how many twenty or thirty year old people do you know who do not think they are ten foot tall, bullet proof, and immortal? It comes with the territory, and Carl Edwards can attest to how reckless the guy can be.
But, if you manage to piss of Edwards, and or Kenseth you have done something. Those guys rarely have anything negative to say about someone, hell, I do not think I can point to a time (outside of when dealing with Keselowski), when punches or bumpers were thrown. That is the thing, we are coming into Talladega. The largest, fastest track on the schedule, outside of say, Daytona. When you combine Keselowski's demeanor with a bunch of upset drivers in 3000 pound plus cars, and nearly 1000 horse power... That can be a tragedy waiting to happen.
Alright I have digressed... So, suspensions come after incidents while on probation, something that I and many other fans have found as being lite. After all that was done Saturday night, many people seem to think that the punishment does not fit the crime. I agree. Look, I am not a head hunter, but I do want to see good clean races, punishments applied equally, and punishments that fit the crime. I have seen penalties that severe for saying "Shit" on a car radio, I do not even think the Robby Gordon tossing foam on the track penalty was that lax. Let me look... After a few minutes, the poster-boy for bad attitude Robby Gordon's foam throwing escaped came up. He was fined 15k, and docked 50 points, that was after debris was coming from his cars blown tire. In another incident with Gordon, he was fined 25k and docked 25 driver points and owner points for attempting to back into another car while under caution.
See a trend here? Drivers get fined, loose points, are placed on probation, or suspended for actions on and off the track. But here is my rub, it is mostly inconsistent. Ambrose hit Vickers after a race, and he was fined, whereas in years previously drivers were suspended for it, and before that type of behavior went ignored. They came down on Waltrip for antics last year, but this year, if you are the right team it is business as usual.
So, without a suspension, with Keselowski being able to drive recklessly, with god knows how many people pissed off with him, I am finished. I am not going to watch or support an organization that cares so little about the people behind the wheel, the fans in the stands, and officials on pit road or garage. I would rather not watch a race in which people are hurt or killed, because someone wants to throw a tantrum. I never watched NASCAR for the wrecks, I am not about to start. If nothing else Keselowski should have been parked for this race, but the way many people are seeing it, he should have been parked into next season. It's NASCAR's loss, and with seats not filling up as they used to, declining viewership will only harm them more.