Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rules Made to Be Broken? Even If They Cheat, Drivers Are Allowed to Keep Victories

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rules Made to Be Broken? Even If They Cheat, Drivers Are Allowed to Keep Victories

Article excerpt

Byline: DON COBLE

Whoever said winners never cheat and cheaters never win never watched a NASCAR race. It might be the only sport in which drivers can be fined and penalized for cheating, but they get to keep the trophy.

Whether it's an illegal engine, tricked-up shocks and tires or fenders that don't fit templates, the sanctioning body has proven to be tough on race winners for cheating. But the penalty that counts most, drivers said, usually isn't considered - disqualifying a winner.

Brad Keselowski won the Nationwide Series race at Talladega, Ala., last month. NASCAR found an illegal shock and spring on his Dodge. Keselowski was docked 25 points, crew chief Paul Wolfe was fined $20,000 and the team was docked another 25 points in the car owner standings.

But Keselowski kept the trophy.

NASCAR founder Bill France created a policy more than 60 years ago that fans deserved to know who won the race before they went home. He didn't like the idea of confusing people a day or two after the finish. It's a policy that's been tested several times.

Victory No. 198 for Richard Petty came at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1983. Inspectors said Petty used an oversized engine - it was 24 cubic inches too big - and illegal left-side tires. He was fined $35,000 and docked 100 points, but he kept the win.

In 2005, Jimmie Johnson won the race at Las Vegas. Kyle Busch was second. Johnson's car flunked the inspection for being too low. Busch's flunked for being too high. They both were fined and docked points, but their 1-2 finish still stands.

Baseball hitters with corked bats are thrown out. Olympians who use steroids or illegal equipment are stripped of medals and banned from the sport. The Soap Box Derby even took a win away from a racer who used magnets to get a faster start.

In NASCAR, however, pushing the rules is part of the game. …

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