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NASCAR holds closed-door meeting; officiating revisions made for tomorrow’s Chase opener

Sep 14, 2013, 3:05 PM EDT

Brian France, Mike Helton AP

NASCAR, along with drivers, team owners, and assorted team personnel, held a mandatory closed-door meeting inside the garages this afternoon at Chicagoland Speedway. According to multiple Twitter reports from Chicagoland, security guards were posted outside to prevent fan and media access.

But afterwards, three of NASCAR’s top executives – CEO Brian France, president Mike Helton (both pictured, yesterday), and vice president of competition Robin Pemberton – did visit with the press to discuss the meeting. Additionally, NASCAR announced a series of officiating revisions, which will take effect tomorrow for the Chase-opening GEICO 400.

Those provisions will primarily impact the spotters. The spotters’ stand will now be spotters-only, with one for each team. Each spotter will be equipped with two analog radios, scanners and FanViews, but will not be permitted to use digital radios. Also, a video camera will now be installed to monitor activity in that area.

Going back to the meeting, France said it was meant to define what NASCAR expected of its teams going forward after last Saturday’s controversial finish to the Chase-deciding race at Richmond International Raceway.

“Those expectations are that a driver and team give 100 percent effort – their best effort – to complete a race and race as hard as they possibly can,” France said. “We issued a variety of things, some clarifications and some adjustments, to our ability to officiate that.

“We addressed team rules, and as I said, a variety of other things all designed to do what our fans expect and that means that their driver and their team give 100 percent to finish as high up in a given race as possible.”

Helton then said that a new rule will go out to the teams in a technical bulletin later this afternoon:

“It reads: ‘NASCAR requires its competitors to race at 100 percent of their ability with the goal of achieving the best possible finishing position in an event. Any competitor who takes action with the intent to artificially alter the finishing positions of the event, or encourages, persuades, or induces others to artificially alter the finishing positions of the event, will be subject to a penalty from NASCAR.

“Such penalties may include, but are not limited to, disqualification and/or loss of finishing points, and/or fines, and/or loss of points, and/or suspension, and/or probation to any and all members of the teams, including any beneficiaries of the prohibitive actions. ‘Artificially altered’ shall be defined as actions by any competitor that shows or suggests that the competitor did not race at 100 percent of their ability for the purpose of changing finishing positions in the event at NASCAR’s sole discretion.'”

Helton would go on to reveal what he stressed as a “working list” of acceptable and unacceptable examples in regards to the new rule.

On the acceptable list were matters such as contact while racing for position, performance issues, and yielding to a faster car, while the unacceptable list had examples like offering positions in exchange for favor or material benefit, directing a driver to give up a position to benefit another driver, intentionally causing a caution, and intentionally causing a caution for the benefit of another driver.

According to Helton, the meeting was an “open dialogue” in which France addressed a “very attentive” assembled group on the character of the sport and how important it was to protect it.

The conclusion of the Richmond race has caused many media outlets to bring NASCAR’s credibility into question. When asked about the topic, France indicated that it was important that NASCAR get back to what it does best.

“It’s like anything else – circumstances happen that are unhelpful in the credibility category,” he said. “There’s no doubt about that. And you go back to what you’re about and what we’re about is the best racing in the world with the best drivers giving 100 percent of their ability.

“And to the extent that we got off of that for any reason, then it’s our job to have the rules of the road – the rules of the race – such that it achieves that every day. If it’s not this, it might be something else. You just deal with it, we’ve dealt with it as best we can, and we move on.”

In the last week, NASCAR has delivered major penalties to Michael Waltrip Racing for their role in manipulating the finish last Saturday night and has twice altered its post-season field.

Martin Truex Jr. was taken out of the Chase thanks to those penalties, with Ryan Newman moving into his spot as the second Wild Card. But yesterday, citing in France’s words, “an unprecedented and extraordinary set of circumstances” at Richmond, NASCAR announced that Jeff Gordon would go into the post-season as the Chase’s 13th driver.

Friday’s decision has been met with mixed reactions from fans and media, with Truex himself declaring that the situation was unfair but that he was powerless to do anything about it.

  1. manik56 - Sep 14, 2013 at 4:12 PM

    What list is allowing a driver to lead a lap for the bonus point and the giving the position back on? Is that manipulating the point standings any less? This is WWF racing with the way NASCAR has handled this.

    • brentsn - Sep 14, 2013 at 6:46 PM

      That is no big deal. Thats going to happen , thats not manipulation. Stop trying to make up things.

  2. pitpenguinsrulez - Sep 14, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    Earnhardt Sr would be disgusted if he saw what a shame most of NASCAR has become. I’m still a diehard 20 year old fan but this sport irritates me at certain points or things!

    • Anoesis - Sep 15, 2013 at 11:18 AM

      It’s funny you mention the Initiator while commenting on an article about artificially influencing race results. You’re barely old enough to have seen him drive, but DE changed a number of races by ramming other drivers from behind.

  3. challenger15 - Sep 14, 2013 at 6:57 PM

    What a bunch of NASCRAP!! I’m a long-time fan, go to races, buy the junk, this might just do it for me. A bunch of cry-babies … you want to be in the chase? Finish better in the other umpty-million races in the season!!!

  4. lesovuls - Sep 14, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    Another new rule P-273-09, Princess Sparkle Pony will start at back of pack 7 laps ahead of everyone else,that way by the end of the race she will be on lead lap and NAPCAR announcers can say what a great job she is doing.

    • mazblast - Sep 15, 2013 at 12:04 PM

      Next year, “the suits” will find a way to decree Her Prissiness and her rapidly fading looks into the Chase.

  5. charger383 - Sep 14, 2013 at 9:08 PM

    Brian France will destroy NASCAR

  6. charger383 - Sep 14, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    And what about the cautions NASCAR invents to make the race close in the last laps?

    • mazblast - Sep 15, 2013 at 12:01 PM

      That’s different. That’s artificial manipulation that comes from “the suits”, which is permitted. NASCAR is trying to become the NBA, with France in the role of David Stern “I reserve the right to decide who gets in, I reserve the right to decide who wins.”

  7. imodan - Sep 14, 2013 at 10:50 PM

    Unfair competition from the start with super teams eating up the little guys. I left NASCAR when the chase was instituted. I hated it just for this reason, it could be fixed, i.e. manipulated. I say dump that farce known as the chase and limit multi-car teams to two teams only.

  8. imodan - Sep 14, 2013 at 10:57 PM

    Also WAY too many races! Season is too long. February to November? Really? Want to stop seeing half empty grandstands? No more multiple dates. One shot to see the big boys. Can’t fill the stands then your track is off the schedule. Bring NASCAR back to the fans that will support it.

  9. lastfan - Sep 15, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    why must things get so complicated? I’m an old race fan. Drivers used to get riled up and solve the problem both on/off the track. That’s what made the races exciting. Now “big money” changes the rules. A fine or maybe a slap on the wrist (depending on the driver) If the race isn’t as WE want we shall have a late caution and make sure that “big money” gets the win and the points. Then we shall manipulate the point totals so OUR driver is the champion. Lets get real……this is all gonna end up as they want. racing as it used to be is gone………….sad

  10. Anoesis - Sep 15, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    Pretty soon NASCAR’s rule-book will be as thick as the tax code. Just as many cheaters, too.

  11. mazblast - Sep 15, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    The new spotters rule will make things more complicated for teams trying to manipulate the standings or bargain with other teams, but it won’t eliminate such things. Now they’ll be “smart” enough to talk to their teams in code, and the team-to-team communication will be via cell phone, not on the radio.

  12. worknman24hours - Sep 16, 2013 at 12:30 AM

    I heard the closed door was from a Don’s John.

    And the smell coming from the room was just as bad.

  13. midtec2005 - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:07 AM

    Gentlemen, I grew up a nascar fan and this kind of stuff is why I made the switch to Indycar. They have their own infuriating problems, but at least they don’t play with the results… and the racing is great.

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