No flip-flopping: Edwards' victory tainted


Carl Edwards backflipped after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday, and owner Jack Roush is just flipping out.

Jeff Gordon crashed late in the UAW-Dodge 400, and a record TV audience watched.

But if you wanted Gordon's autograph before race weekend, your best bet was to buy a watch.

Fans feasted on eye candy in the Neon Zoo, and folks, too often forgotten, relished in event leftovers.

Here are some final thoughts from NASCAR's annual visit:

WIN AT ALL COSTS

Edwards won the race, but apparently didn't do it fairly.

His No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford failed postrace inspection when officials found the cover to his oil tank unattached. That couldn't have been an accident, the way every nut and bolt is checked and rechecked before a car leaves its garage.

On Wednesday, NASCAR docked Edwards and car owner Roush 100 points each, to drop them from first to seventh in points. Crew chief Bob Osborne was fined $100,000 and suspended for six races.

Edwards is still the race winner; that's the NASCAR way. No team has lost a title for a technical infraction since 1955. Just like Jimmie Johnson didn't lose his first Las Vegas title in 2005 after his car failed inspection.

That's rubbish. To be a winner, you should do it fair and square.

Of course, disqualifying Edwards would have given the victory to Dale Earnhardt Jr. That would have caused a riot had his legions of fans been denied the opportunity to see him celebrate a victory for the first time in more than two years.

NOT-SO-GREAT WALL

Gordon's crash with five laps left has brought the issue of racetrack safety back into the spotlight. His violent impact into an unprotected inside guardwall just past the second turn spurred his team owner, Rick Hendrick, to warn that his teams won't return to Las Vegas Motor Speedway until it's made safer.

Panic has not set in at NASCAR or the speedway; 360 days remain before the team would be back anyway.

Yes, impact-absorbing SAFER barriers should be on the inside walls just as they are on the outside. And, yes, the backstretch opening that allows rescue and medical vehicles to enter the track is dangerous and never should have been built with an angled wall.

Gordon had driven past that wall 2,739 times on race laps, plus several hundred more during testing, practice and qualifying at the track. Multiply that by more than 40 pairs of eyes inside other Cup helmets.

Someone should have noted the looming danger.

INACCESSIBLE

It's an urban legend about how fans can interact with Cup drivers.

The only contact to be made with them is at a smattering of public autograph sessions, and then the most popular drivers are rarely found.

You could have hobnobbed with Gordon, received an autograph and had your picture taken with him last week at an upscale store -- provided you paid more than a thousand bucks for a watch made by one of his sponsors.

Cup drivers can hide from fans. That's fine; most pro athletes do. Just don't sell these drivers as being accessible.

NEON ZOO

In its second year, the Neon Garage infield area was packed before the races.

Fans flocked to watch teams work on cars like spectators observing caged animals at the zoo.

The best move was putting the winner's circle inside the diamond-shaped layout where fans could get close enough to Victory Lane to feel the spray of champagne.

NICE GESTURE

The economic impact of the race weekend to Southern Nevada probably will climb to more than $200 million once the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority completes its research.

The speedway already has helped people in the community.

LVMS and concessionaire Levy Restaurants donated about one ton of food -- mostly fresh produce -- on Monday to the Three Square Food Bank in North Las Vegas.

That's real food for thought.

Jeff Wolf's motor sports column is published Friday. He can be reached at 383-0247 or jwolf@reviewjournal.com.

 

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