Woody: Passing Should Always Be Between Non-Consenting Adults
By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
It’s one for NASCAR’s Lowlights Film:
At one point during last Sunday’s race at Dover, leader Jimmie Johnson deliberately slowed down and allowed teammate Mark Martin to pass him.
Martin led the lap, “earning” five bonus points.
Then Johnson zipped back around him, reassumed the lead, and sped off to victory.
A charity pass for charity points. How shameful.
And don’t give me excuses about how it’s always been done in the past – teammates helping teammates improve their position, get back on the lead lap, collect bonus points.
It was shameful then and it’s shameful now.
What’s the harm, you say? The harm is to NASCAR’s image as a legitimate pro sport.
What Johnson and Martin did was nothing short of rigging the point standings. Johnson gave Martin five points he didn’t earn and didn’t deserve.
Granted, they rigged the standings by only five points – Martin is in 12th place with 1,567 points – but that’s five more points that he should have.
A rig is a rig, just like fixing a football or basketball game is a fix. The number points involved in the fix is irrelevant.
Five points must be fairly important, otherwise why embarrass a proud old veteran like Martin by giving them to him?
Thirteen races remain to set the 12-driver field for the championship Chase. Let’s say that Martin comes out of the 26th and deciding race leading current 13th-place driver David Reutimann by four points.
Think those five charity points Martin was given Sunday would loom large? They would be the difference him making the Chase and Reutimann getting bumped out.
Let’s take it even further: suppose Johnson should take a nose-dive in the next 13 races – unlikely but possible – and he ended up on that number 12-13 Chase bubble.
And let’s imagine that Martin beat Johnson out for the 12th and final spot – by four points! Forget Johnson’s bid for a record fourth championship.
Talk about poetic justice – if Johnson knocked himself out of the Chase by giving another driver five championship points.
I realize such a scenario is unlikely, but it could happen. And even if doesn’t, giving a teammate points is a sham. Some might argue about how big a sham it is but can’t deny that it’s a sham.
Back before the advent of the Lucky Dog Award, when lapped drivers had to beat the leader back to the line under caution get their lap back, some drivers whined if the leader didn’t slow down and give them a free pass.
I always thought that was absurd. By allowing a rival to get back on the lead lap the leader gave new life to a potential threat for the victory. Every driver he could keep a lap down was one less driver he had to worry about toward the end.
Deliberately giving an opponent a lap back was disgraceful; deliberately giving an opponent championship points – teammate or no teammate – is equally unseemly.
After 13 more races, when the Chase field is set, just remember that Mark Martin will be credited with five more points than he earned.
It may not make any difference. Probably won’t. But if somebody – including big-hearted teammate Jimmie Johnson – should be bumped out of the Chase by Mark’s five-point edge, just remember what went down last Sunday at Dover:
That’s the day the standings were rigged.4 Comments