Ive Got A Secret

I'm totally on board with NASCAR penalizing drivers for questioning the integrity of the sport. Unfortunately, the way it was handled is a mess.

I've long been in favor of NASCAR holding drivers' feet to the fire when they make outlandish claims that damage the sport's credibility. No other sport would tolerate such behavior and for a long time NASCAR stood back and watched their athletes completely trash the very fiber of stock car racing.

Comparing NASCAR to wrestling or questioning the validity of caution flags, in turn saying late-race yellows were only a means to manipulate a race and provide a "show," is way outside the boundaries of allowing drivers to speak their minds.

I hope we never get to a point when a driver or crew chief arguing a call or decision is fined and penalized. Although other sports like the NBA and NFL hand out such judgement on a nearly regular basis, NASCAR has always allowed its participants to show their emotions. It's what the sport was built on and as it tries to rebuild, that outspokenness should be a cornerstone.

But there is a big difference in arguing a call and saying the sport is rigged.

The two drivers who were fined and penalized this week, one reportedly to the tune of $50,000, apparently went way over the line.

However, as of now, we don't know who those drivers were and what they said. Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman did admit to being the two culprits Friday at Pocono but NASCAr never made an official announcement).

NASCAR's decision to withhold that information has opened up an even bigger can of worms. By simply stating the names of the drivers and their exact comments that were deemed to be inappropriate, NASCAR could easily show the world what it feels is well, in and out of bounds.

Instead we're left to guess and although some media have reported the names of drivers believed to be in question, until the sanctioning body officially confirms it we'll never know for sure.

And all that does is leave more questions in fans' - and media members' - minds about what else is done in secrecy around the world of NASCAR.

That behind-the-hauler mentality may have worked 20 or 30 years ago but in today's world it doesn't cut it. There is too much communication and really too much at stake to not be upfront about how the sport is run and what rules competitors are expected to abide by.

NASCAR has spent the last decade trying to convince the world it was worthy of being on the same level as other major professional sports. But if it wants to be considered among the likes of the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball, NASCAR has to adopt a different set of standards than what was used when it was a successful yet regional sport.

NASCAR needs to be as transparent as possible and can help its own credibility by doing so.

Until then, even acting completely within its right to defend its integrity, NASCAR comes off as hypocritical.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2010

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