Blog Entry

NASCAR secret fines hurting credibility

Posted on: November 18, 2011 2:08 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 2:14 pm
By Pete Pistone

HOMESTEAD, Fla. - This week's news of NASCAR fining Brad Keselowski for critical comments he made regarding fuel injection last week has set off another controversial firestorm inside the sport.

NASCAR CEO Brian France addressed the issue during his media availability Friday afternoon at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Keselowski was reportedly fined $25,000 for his strong views opposing NASCAR's move to fuel injection for next year's Sprint Cup Series.

But NASCAR never issued a public statement in the aftermath of the disciplinary action and until an Associated Press story broke on Thursday the situation was not known.

The issue has raised the question of whether there have been other "secret fines" handed out over a variety of issues.

"There could be," France said.  "That's why they're private, right?  Well, let me tell you what we've done in the last couple of years.  In the last couple of years we've taken a position that drivers are going to be able to speak their mind and criticize the sport way more than any other sport would allow.  So let's start with that.

"However, there have to be some limits.  We thought those limits were being exceeded in the last couple of years because you can't denigrate the sport.  You just can't do that.  We're not going to accept that."

France reiterated his belief that the sanctioning body was perfectly within its right to defend itself from criticism and remarks made by its athletes that could put the sport in a bad light.

"Let me say one other portion of this," France said.  "They are perfectly fine to criticize anything we do, any call we make.  They can say they don't like it, they disagree with it.  We didn't make the right call.  That's fine.  But we're not going to let anyone denigrate the sport, and that's going to continue.

"Whether we make the fines public or private, we didn't see a benefit to making them public.  If there is some benefit to that, we'll take a look at it.  But that is the reasoning behind the penalties."

Other sports leagues regularly fine athletes, coaches or participants for critical remarks or actions that question integrity or credibility. The NBA and NFL in particular have shown no hesitation to punish those who call out poor officiating, decision making or make any other comment or action that harm the sport's image.

That is perfectly within their right as is it in NASCAR's.

However while its counterparts make any such decisions public knowledge, NASCAR continues to operate in a shroud of secrecy which does much more harm to its image. 

When that concept was brought to France's attention he didn't agree and tried to downplay the entire turn of events.

"The way we looked at it, what would be the benefit?  The drivers know exactly what we're after," France said of tehe policy to not announce such fines as the one handed to Keselowski.  "We have these annual meetings with them, right?  And then we have semi-annual meetings with them, and we meet with them every weekend at the track.  We have formal meetings in the off-season.

"So they know exactly what we expect out of them.  When they don't handle that, the only way we can control that is obviously a fining system.  But look, don't panic over this.  We'll look at it in the off-season, if we need to change it, we'll change it.  Not a big deal."

But it's a giant deal.

The more transparent the sport can be the more its credibility is built. There are conspiracy theorists and many who believe "Black Helicopters" are a regular part of the NASCAR world and these clandestine actions only perpetuate those claims.

France would not rule out a potential policy change going forward but also did not back down from NASCAR continuing to defend itself from detrimental comments.

"When you cross a line that denigrates the direction of the sport or the quality of the racing, we're not going to accept that," he said.  "Not going to accept it.

"Happy to have any other criticism, any other complaint, happy to hear them all.  If I own a restaurant and I say you know what, the food in my restaurant is not very good, we're not going to accept it.  It's as simple as that."

Right now the whole ordeal has left a bad taste in my mouth.

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Category: Auto Racing

Since: Jun 16, 2008
Posted on: November 20, 2011 11:35 am

NASCAR secret fines hurting credibility

By the way. . . .what is that black helicopter used for anyway? It is always hovering around the track at the track.

Since: Oct 22, 2006
Posted on: November 20, 2011 10:03 am
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Nov 5, 2011
Posted on: November 19, 2011 10:30 pm

NASCAR secret fines hurting credibility

Wouldn't this "sport" be better off in the hands of the mafia? Or a Columbian drug cartel? My 9 and 11 year old grand-daughters could run this comedy act better.

What you have to keep in mind is that this 'organization' is a taxpayer subsidized, congressionally authorized M*O*N*P*O*L*Y.

Since: Jun 30, 2011
Posted on: November 18, 2011 8:27 pm

NASCAR secret fines hurting credibility

Look, for any of you out there who have been fans for years, you know the france family has always run nascar through fear and intimidation. The whole family is corrupt and constantly threatens and fines drivers and teams. This younger version is no different from his old man or his grandfather. If you have ties, no morals and pay a lot of tribute to the france family...they call you Mr hendrick and you get a slap on the wrist when you break the rules. If you refuse to bow down and kiss their worthless behinds, you get hassled and fined behind closed doors. Greatest racing in the world ruined by the fance family do you think toyota got into the series? 

Since: Dec 24, 2009
Posted on: November 18, 2011 4:19 pm

NASCAR secret fines hurting credibility

Pete, I'm sorry you feel Pistone, but I think keeping the fines private are a good thing. Getting fined is, by and large, an embarrassement. The fact that NASCAR is not about publicly embarrassing an unruly contestant is classy. If a contestant feels like it is instead a badge of honor (go figure) then they can find a way to leak it to the press and then proclaim "no comment" when the press comes calling.

Just because you are press-pass worthy doesn't mean you have a right-to-know everything going on at NASCAR HQ. I think better journalism would be to admonish those who see "Black Ops" in everything. And while you're at it, tell them to stay out of Grandpa's LSD.

Since: Aug 1, 2007
Posted on: November 18, 2011 4:17 pm

NASCAR secret fines hurting credibility

How can a valid criticism be denigrating the sport? This guys needs to come up with a public rule book so the actual fan has some idea of what is going on. To say it's not a big deal is a slap in the face to any fan, casual or dedicated.

It's a pity because this weekend's race is the most meaningful in years and there is yet another cloud over the sport. Every event like this is just one more step aay from real racing.

Since: Mar 19, 2009
Posted on: November 18, 2011 3:34 pm

NASCAR secret fines hurting credibility

Brian France has ruined NASCAR in a very short period of time  And now the NASCAR brass are worried that some drivers are "denigrating" the sport by making their feelings known about specific changes to the cars and series?  I guess in NASCAR you are allowed to have an opinion, but if it's not the same opionion as NASCAR - keep it to yourself.  This reminds me of awhile back when I commented on the "Great American Race" and how all the souvenirs and diecast were all made in China.  My comments were removed in less than 20 minutes.  NASCAR is a firm believer in censorship and doesn't much care for it when fans (or drivers) speak their mind.  If they say it's great racing, who are we to disagree?  Fall in line sheep...

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