NASCAR fans love a conspiracy. Regardless of who the driver is, if he or she dominates, it can’t be because they are good; they’re good because they cheated.
Granted, it isn’t without good reason that fans would raise their eyebrows. NASCAR’s first Strictly Stock winner- Glenn Dunaway- had his victory taken away because of an illegal, unapproved spring. Legendary mechanic and car owner Smoke Yunick was the original “Slick Willie,” finding every loophole in the rule book to gain an edge. Clouds of suspicion- some not unfounded- have hovered over the winning performances of Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and now, Kevin Harvick.
It’s really pretty amusing, as one skeptical of most conspiracy theories. In the case of Harvick, you have a driver who practically had to win who goes out stinks up the show, and a crew chief who adds fuel to the fire by encouraging his driver to practically render a car unrecognizable during the victory celebration. It really doesn’t require much creativity to connect the dots.
Overlooked by subscribing to this notion of chicanery by the number four team is what is just as plausible a reason for their success. Winning is nothing new for Harvick. The man won a championship in 2014. He’s been incredibly consistent in 2015, with an NSCS-leading 19 top fives and 23 top tens to go with three wins. Harvick has one of the cars to beat virtually every week. Why would the AAA 400 have been any different?
Granted, NASCAR has had a history of fueling conspiracies. They essentially looked the other way with Richard Petty’s 200th win. They’ve had a long history of appearing to favor Chevrolet as a manufacturer (wait, or it it Toyota?) In numerous instances, NASCAR either lacks oversight, or because they own the ball, appears to favorable throw the ball in the direction of their perceived favorites.
“If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin”” the racing adage goes. No matter what any team does, conspiracies or more likely conspiracy theories will follow success. I think a more adage may be “If you ain’t accused of cheatin’, you ain’t winnin.'”