It’s not what fans always to hear, but it’s true; officials don’t win or lose sporting events, the participants do. Before you start throwing things at your monitor or disparaging this observer’s ancestry, think about it.
Officials aren’t infallible, and they do make some horrendous calls. Worse yet, they can become magnified by the moment in which they occur. With that said, for every bad call, there are numerous win costing, competitor errors: missed shots, incomplete passes, bad defense, and jumping the re-starts.
Kyle Busch may think he got a “gift” with that “mystery” debris caution Saturday, but if he thinks about it, there’s more to the story than that. His driving, and more importantly, his team put him in a position to win. The real gift was a car that completed the duration of the race, and a pit crew that put him in a position to win.
As for Tony Stewart, his argument is not without merit. There won’t be any debate here that if it was a water bottle “out of the groove” that brought out the caution, it was a bad call. Manifactured drama reeks of the same odor as kiddie league soccer games. By the same token, Smoke and Shrub both had the same opportunity for success and failure. Re-starts are a part of the competition; Busch is the master if re-starts, and on this night, Stewart was mortal.
Don't get me wrong. NASCAR does need to be a little more transparent with their debris cautions. Dave Moody says there was a piece of metal on the track. I won’t argue that, but where was it? Whether or not it’s true, the perception among many fans is that the TV networks and NASCAR are in cahoots, and will turn a blind eye to a “mystery” debris caution. There’s one way to end it; point it out, put a camera on it, and let the fans see it. If it can’t be seen lying on the track, then show it being carried off the track. Heck, put a dashboard camera on the truck! How hard is it? If it's not there, don't call it.
The argument about whether or not Edwards was the leader is a red herring. The bottom line is Edwards was gunning it before the “re-start zone” and would have been penalized anyway.
That aside, controversy can be avoided by taking however much time is necessary to make sure the field is properly re-set, even if it takes an extra lap or two. Perhaps another solution is to say that if there’s a false start on a re-start, give the field a “do over’; if they screw that up, they’re black-flagged.
NASCAR has often been accused of doing the “monkey see, monkey do” with the NFL. While there’s still mistakes made, and those replays take forever, they take the time to get it right, and explain to the fan what is going on. IF NASCAR is genuinely interested in eliminating the perception that the fix is in, they establish some sort of relationship with a motorsports review board (if doesn’t exist, it should be established) for review and oversight. Is it worth it? If they really want this to be seen as a real sport, it’s a no-brainer. It's time to shine some sunlight on the rulings at the race track.
This comes from the perspective of one who thinks 99 percent of conspiracies are pure ferilizer. Nobody tried to screw over Edwards or Stewart either one, and they sure as heck weren't trying hand the race to Busch. If you look closely wat happened, there's plenty to go around. NASCAR would do themselves a huge favor opening up. If they don't, it just leaves the governing body open to suspicion.
Other articles by Jim McCoy include:
Luck Is Where Preparation Meets Opportunity
Guess Who's Courting NASCAR History?
The Curious Case of The Burning Busches