Michael Waltrip, the jokester, Nascar’s funny guy got caught cheating this week. Well, not Mikey exactly, his team got caught cheating. They were caught with a fuel additive in the manifold of the 55 car during a qualifying inspection. NASCAR suspended Waltrip’s crew chief, David Hyder and his director of competition, Bobby Kennedy. They fined Hyder $100,000 and took 100 owners points and 100 driver points from Michael Waltrip. They also disqualified Michael’s qualifying score and confiscated the 55 car. Michael stood up and took full responsibility and vowed to find the individual responsible for the infraction. He stated that the additive was not approved by himself or any MWR management personnel.
Michael Waltrip has done a few interviews but the one that struck me the most was when he said that nothing Nascar could do to him would be worse than his daughter asking her mommy why daddy was cheating. Michael Waltrip said he was very close to quitting and his wife talked him into running the 150. MWR pulled out a backup car that hadn’t been tested and managed to qualify for the Daytona 500.
My opinion – just about every team in Nascar cheats one way or another. When you try to make all of the cars exactly alike the teams have to take an advantage wherever they can find one. Sometimes that involves pushing the envelope. The problem comes in when you go beyond “pushing the envelope??? to “let’s hope we don’t get caught???. When you have a sport that was built by bootleggers you are going to have cheating. I am actually amazed that Nascar came down so hard. Especially since Michael Waltrip has been such a positive emissary for the “sport??? of Nascar. I have some opinions about why this crackdown happened, but that will be another post. For now, I want to say that I wish Michael Waltrip the best of luck for the Daytona 500 and the rest of the race year.