NASCAR good, F-1 ugly

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:46 AM ET

The real tragedy of the mess Formula One racing finds itself in is that other forms of racing get tarred with the same brush.

Not that NASCAR is as pure as the driven snow, but I defy anyone to list a consecutive string of near-criminal cheating scandals in that series like those now linked to F-1.

Michael Waltrip's fuel tampering of a few years ago appears like a kid caught peeking at his seatmate's Grade 10 math test answers when compared with: The theft of Ferrari engineering notes by McLaren; Lewis Hamilton lying to stewards at the Australian Grand Prix that he had not deliberately let Jarno Trulli pass him under caution; and now the piece de resistance, Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds' dastardly scheme to have Renault's Nelson Piquet Jr. crash to give teammate Fernando Alonso a caution period that would allow him to win the Singapore Grand Prix last season.

All of you NASCAR bashers out there -- you know who you are -- owe an apology for all the "Junior rules" and "Mark Martin" conspiracy theories that you have floated around that bastion of truth (heavy sarcasm here) known as the Internet.

Brass monkey

Speaking of evil-doers, is there no shame left in Flavio Briatore?

This week, after the FIA effectively banned him for life for masterminding the Renault cheating scandal, he went crying to Italy's biggest sports newspaper that he had been hard done by.

"I'm devastated," Briatore told Gazzetta dello Sport.

He also said he was thinking of filing a lawsuit against the FIA to try to prove his innocence. Would this be the same Briatore who, in sworn statements to the FIA, admitted his role in the scandal?

Now he wants compensation for the damage caused to his image?

The man has the brazenness of a brass monkey.

No more Mr. Nice Guy

It is truly amazing that Juan Pablo Montoya is coming under criticism this week after calling out Mark Martin for brake checking him on the final lap of the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

All you have to do is look at the replay and it is obvious that the No. 5 Hendrick Chevrolet at the very least came off the throttle hard, leaving Montoya no choice but to hit the brakes on the No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet, thus causing him to lose momentum and the race.

But it would appear that the NASCAR nation will not broach any naysaying about Saint Martin, even after Montoya explained that he understood Martin's motives.

"It's one of those deals that you've got to do what it takes, and he did," he said of Martin's move.

It's not likely to mar Martin's nice guy image, but you can bet the next time he's behind the No. 42 Chevy, he should expect the same treatment.

Testing, testing

One thing that NASCAR and F-1 have in common is that both series severely limit the amount of testing teams can do between races.

The reasoning for both was that it helps teams keep budgets under control in tough economic times.

In F-1, the blanket ban plays no favourites, but in NASCAR the rich teams such as Hendrick, Gibbs, Childress, Roush and Penske just pack up and travel to non-NASCAR-sanctioned tracks to test, regardless of the cost.

Authoritative NASCAR writer Mike Mulhern reports this week on mulhern.net that Roush teams packed up their racing rigs recently to travel 1,760 kms to College Station, Tex., to test at the two-mile banked oval of Texas World Speedway.

The smaller teams are urging that NASCAR ease the restrictions to allow them to test at Lowe's Motor Speedway that is within shouting distance of most of their shops near Charlotte, N.C.

Apparently that move -- which has the backing of LMS officials -- is being studied.

Mulhern reports, by the way, that testing at Texas proved somewhat exciting with Greg Biffle reaching 218 m.p.h. in his No. 16 Ford. And without soft walls and with a bumpy track, that stopped the testing with Biffle saying the Texas track was too dangerous.

Finish lines

A pair of booze companies have announced an end to their sponsorships in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. Jim Beam Bourbon will stop sponsoring Robby Gordon's team next season and Jack Daniel's will stop supporting Casey Mears' No. 07 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing ... The American Canadian Tour stock car series crowned Quebec City veteran racer Donald Theetge as the 2009 Serie ACT Castrol Champion. ... Legendary British sports car maker Aston Martin has revealled it will construct its own LMP1 prototype to compete next season at Le Mans

DEAN.MCNULTY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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