NASCAR must overhaul appeals process

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

The last avenue of appeal for Richard Childress Racing's dispute over a 150-point penalty and several severe crew suspensions to the No. 33 Chevrolet of Clint Bowyer was unsuccessful Tuesday after team owner Richard Childress met for two hours with chief appellate officer John Middlebrook.

Middlebrook made some changes to the penalties: Crew chief Shane Wilson's fine has been reduced from $150,000 US to $100,000 and Wilson and car chief

Chad Haney's race suspensions have been lowered from six to four.

The loss of 150 championship owner and driver points, however, remains intact.

"After reviewing all the data, presentation and factors involved, I am ruling NASCAR was correct in its decision to levy penalties," Middlebrook said in a statement released by NASCAR. "I believe that the revisions that have been made to the penalties are consistent and fair to both parties involved."

For his part, Childress said he thought he got a fair hearing from the former General Motors executive who took the chief appellate job in February.

Up to that point, however, RCR and its own investigator had labelled the whole system -- of NASCAR appointing its own hand picked tribunal to judge appeals against its own rulings -- as a waste of time.

If looked at objectively it really is just that.

The background is that the No. 33 Chevrolet's chassis was found to be off centre after the first race of the Chase for the Championship at New Hampshire on Sept. 19. RCR blamed it on a tow truck hitting the car too hard at the end of the race and it brought in accident reconstruction expert Dr. Charles Manning to prove their point. His findings were dismissed by NASCAR's so-called appeals panel -- former IndyCar driver Lynn St. James, former crew chief Waddell Wilson and USAC official John Capels.

The trio has one thing in common -- none has one minute of legal training that would aid them in making a ruling on this case.

And Middleton may well be a very respected auto industry executive but, once again, he has no independence in that he reports to NASCAR bosses in Daytona Beach and he, too, has no legal training.

What is needed is for NASCAR and its teams to hire a reputable arbitration board to settle all of these disputes. Until that happens the same questions about the fairness of the appeals process will continue to haunt the series.

Please go to http://blogs. canoe.ca/thedeanofspeed for further updates.

BOUNTY HUNTERS

Ford Racing boss Jamie Allison has decided to spice up NASCAR's Chase for the Championship by offering a $100,000 bonus to any Blue Oval driver who wins any of the final eight races (Sunday's Price Chopper 400 at Kansas was included).

So for Roush Fenway Racing drivers Carl Edwards in the No. 99, Greg Biffle in the No. 16 and Matt Kenseth in No 17 Fords it pretty much amounts to a bounty for a W.

"It's fairly straightforward," Allison said. "This is just a small thing that I wanted to do from Ford to go out to the three Ford Chasers and say, 'There's a little bit extra here.' "

FINISH LINES

It could be Tony Kanaan's final season with Andretti Autosport after the team announced Tuesday that long-time sponsor 7-Eleven is leaving the No. 11 Dallara. The irony is that the corner variety store chain will stay with Danica Patrick's No. 7 team as an associate sponsor. Patrick and Kanaan have had several run-ins, most recently in the final laps at Saturday's IZOD IndyCar Series final race at Homestead. ... The 2010 World Challenge GT series ended on a winning note for Montreal's Kuno Wittmer when grabbed a victory during the Toyo Tires Utah Grand Prix Presented by Bondurant at Miller Motorsports Park, in Tooele, Utah. Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee and Robert Stout, of Brownsburg, Ind., capped GTS and Touring Car Championship seasons with wins in their respective classes.

dean.mcnulty@sunmedia.ca


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