Woody: Cheating’s Not Funny Anymore
Larry Woody | Senior Writer
I confess that I wouldn’t recognize a C-post if Chad Knaus installed one in my breakfast cereal some morning.
Which, based on all the mechanical malfeasances Chad has been charged with during his years in NASCAR, is not out of the realm of possibility.
But whatever a C-post is (an area between the roof and side window of a stock car, I read somewhere), it must be important. Chad was fined $100,000 and suspended for six races for “illegally modifying” one prior to the Daytona 500.
Driver Jimmie Johnson was docked 25 points, which he easily re-gained last Sunday at Phoenix with a 4th-place finish, with Chad serving at his post (not his C-post) while the penalty is under appeal.
The Daytona bust was Chad’s fourth since he has been Johnson’s crew chief, including the team’s five championships seasons. And that doesn’t include last season’s incident at Talladega when Chad was over-heard instructing Jimmie to smash his Chevy’s rear-end into the wall so that it couldn’t be examined in post-race inspection. In CSI parlance that’s known as “destroying the evidence.”
They call Jimmie “Five Time.”
Maybe they should call Chad “Four Time.”
Apparently Chad is unperturbed by his image as Willie Sutton with a lug wrench. He’s back in trouble, and once again he claims the dog ate his rule book.
I’m surprised that nobody seems surprised. The TV guys brushed the whole thing off as no biggie, and
even the print media has generally given Chad and Hendrick Motorsports a pass.
Maybe it’s a matter of conditioning. In the old days of NASCAR the motto was, “If you’re not cheating you’re not trying.”
Drivers refused to even call it cheating; they preferred “fudging.”
I remember how amusing we all thought it was, watching rascally Smokey Yunick’s cat-and-mouse games with NASCAR inspectors. And yeah, we tended to pull for the mouse.
But those days are over, lost in the mist and myth of the sport’s backwoods history like the burning-rubber smoke of a moonshine runner.
It’s a new era, and cheating’s not funny anymore.
Cheating will eventually do to NASCAR what steroids has done to baseball – cast a pall of suspicion over the sport and tarnish the accomplishments of everyone who has the slightest taint.
That includes Jimmie Johnson and his incredible record five consecutive championships.
Did he win them fairly or did he secure his winning edge – however slight – with the aid of some sort of altered-C-post type of fudging?
That the question can even be posed by a fan of Jimmie – which I unabashedly am — should send shudders through NASCAR. It ought to embarrass team owner Rick Hendrick so badly that he would order Chad to stop doing it. With Rick’s unmatched resources and talent there’s no reason to keep sneezing on his opponents’ back-swing.
Jimmie likewise should put his foot down (hopefully not on an illegally-altered brake pedal). After all, he’s the one driving the getaway car and it’s his legacy that is at risk.
Trust me – if Jimmie and Rick had a sit-down with Chad and said “No more,” there wouldn’t be any more. We’d have seen the last Hendrick C-post picked out of NASCAR’s police lineup.
NASCAR could stop it too if it really wanted to. Instead of spanking a mechanic, park the driver. Too drastic, you say? Well, bear in mind that credibility is like a wedding ring – it’s hard to get back once it’s flushed down the toilet.
The fact that nobody – NASCAR, Rick, Jimmie, Chad, the media – seems particularly distressed is, well, distressing.
– Larry Woody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments