Sports Outside the Beltway

Michael Waltrip’s crew chief, director suspended

The big race is only a few days away but there is already lots of news coming out of Northern Florida

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Michael Waltrip’s team became the fifth caught cheating before the Daytona 500, a scandal that tarnished NASCAR’s biggest race of the season and Toyota’s highly anticipated debut. In all, six crew members have been thrown out of Daytona as NASCAR made it known cheating will not be tolerated.

“We’ve got people’s attention now,” NASCAR competition director Robin Pemberton said Wednesday.

Waltrip, a two-time Daytona winner, lost his crew chief and team director right before the biggest race of the year. The two were suspended indefinitely after an illegal substance was found during inspection for the season-opener.

Waltrip, docked 100 points, will be allowed to participate in Thursday’s races that determine the field for the 500.

David Hyder, his crew chief, was thrown out of the garage and fined $100,000. Team director Bobby Kennedy also was kicked out.

Waltrip said he was “so sad and embarrassed” but tried to shift blame to an unnamed individual within his team.

“This is not the action of an organization, a manufacturer or a sponsor,” Waltrip said in a statement. “This was an independent act done without consent or authorization from me or any of my executive management team.”

It’s just my opinion, but I don’t believe Waltrip didn’t know what is going on. You’re going to tell me you’re racing a car at 200 MPH but don’t know what is under the hood?

A crackdown on cheating is underway and this isn’t pleasing either the drivers or team owners.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Driver Matt Kenseth and car owner Jack Roush expressed outrage Wednesday over NASCAR’s decision to dock the team 50 championship points before the season-opener Daytona 500.

Fellow car owner Ray Evernham was equally frustrated by the sport’s tough stance on rule-breakers.

Even drivers not involved in NASCAR’s cheating crackdown were concerned about whether the governing body was going too far by suspending four crew chiefs Tuesday for failed inspections.

“They are creating a deterrence right now,” driver Jeff Burton said. “That’s what they are doing. … I’d be willing to bet that if everybody had to do the same thing over again, they wouldn’t do the same thing. We have to be careful not to create a penalty so large that it’s not fair.

“I think the message is really clear in the garage right now that they aren’t going to put up with anything.”

NASCAR suspended Kenseth’s crew chief and three of Evernham’s crew chiefs Tuesday for violations discovered during qualifying inspections two days earlier.

As I see it, you break the rules and you pay the consequences. It don’t matter if others do it, you’re the one who got caught.

Let’s hope the next headline out of Daytona is who wins the big race.

Cross posted to Poliblog’s Deportes

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