Thursday, April 19, 2018
Sports

NASCAR wants 100 percent, 100 percent of time from teams

JOLIET, Ill. — Weary from the cleanup of racing manipulations, NASCAR sought to restore its credibility Saturday with a stern warning about "artificially altering" events.

NASCAR chairman Brian France told teams he expects them "to give 100 percent" at all times. He met with them for nearly 20 minutes between practices at Chicagoland Speedway in preparation for today's opening race in Sprint Cup's 10-race Chase for the Championship.

"I think we wanted to be very clear and we wanted to reinforce the cornerstone of NASCAR, which is giving your all," France said. "We addressed team rules, 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."

The warning came after an unprecedented week in which NASCAR was rocked by developments since Clint Bowyer spun his car with seven laps left on Sept. 7 in the race at Richmond.

NASCAR investigated whether Bowyer spun in an attempt to stop leader Ryan Newman from winning the race to give teammate Martin Truex one last chance to earn a Chase berth. Though they could not prove conclusively that Bowyer spun on purpose, the investigation uncovered numerous radio transmissions that indicated race manipulations by Michael Waltrip Racing. NASCAR then hit MWR with heavy sanctions including Truex's removal from the Chase in favor of Newman.

Next came an investigation into allegations of a scheme to sell track position involving deep-pocketed Penske Racing and tiny Front Row Motorsports.

It culminated Friday with France's stunning decision to expand the Chase field to 13 drivers to accommodate Jeff Gordon, who was bumped out last weekend by the tactics of three teams.

Even after that ruling, Gordon was uncomfortable with the way the week developed.

"The integrity of the sport has been put at question," he said. "…(It) is very upsetting to me, and I think we, along with NASCAR, have to solve this."

NASCAR tightened many rules, starting today:

• No deals, no altering the finish, no intentionally causing a caution or wrecking a competitor. The list of things not allowed is a work in progress, NASCAR president Mike Helton said. Penalties can include suspension.

• Only one spotter per team is allowed on the spotter stand. It means Roger Penske can no longer watch from his preferred perch on the roof, and NASCAR will install a camera atop every roof to monitor the actions.

• Digital radios are banned on the spotter stand, so spotters can no longer communicate on a private channel with a team.

Paul Wolfe, crew chief for defending series champion Brad Keselowski, said NASCAR was clear in its meeting.

"I think it got everyone's attention," Wolfe said. "I think everyone should have a pretty clear understanding … if you go out there and run 100 percent to your ability and run a normal race, then everything will be fine."

Comments
Bay area has ‘hit show’ again, thanks to USF

Bay area has ‘hit show’ again, thanks to USF

For the first time since its season commenced, the USF baseball team enters a weekend as the Bulls' feature sports attraction.Basketball ended last month, and spring football ended last Saturday, meaning would-be baseball fans no longer have reason t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Mallex Smith has style.Effervescent personality. Pop culture hipness. Sense of fashion with accoutrements.Now the Rays are going to find out if he has game.More specifically, enough game to be a front-line outfielder, even an i...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs LB Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

Bucs LB Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured his ankle in a car accident in Louisiana last week, putting his status for the start of the upcoming season in question.General manager Jason Licht said that Beckwith had surgery Tuesday to repair his injure...
Updated: 2 hours ago
NHL makes right call in not suspending Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov

NHL makes right call in not suspending Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov

The NHL got it right.Nikita Kucherov, the Lightning's top scorer and best player so far in these playoffs, will play Saturday's Game 5 against New Jersey. He's not going to be suspended for his vicious hit on a Devils player in Tampa Bay's Game 4 vic...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Plant alumnus Rex Culpepper doing well in second chemo round at Syracuse

Plant alumnus Rex Culpepper doing well in second chemo round at Syracuse

Former Plant High quarterback Rex Culpepper recently started his second round of chemotherapy but is doing well and should return to football eventually, his college coach said Thursday morning."He's doing really good," Syracuse coach Dino Babers sai...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Life got you down? The Miracle League is back and making miracles again

Life got you down? The Miracle League is back and making miracles again

ST. PETERSBURG — An old friend is back in the lineup.The Kiwanis of Gulf Beaches Miracle League, which champions baseball for the physically and mentally challenged, returned with a flourish Saturday morning. We're better for it."This...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Nikita Kucherov drives Lightning past Devils

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Nikita Kucherov drives Lightning past Devils

Nikita Kucherov scores two goals and delivers some big hits as the Lightning beats the Devils, 3-1, in a physical Game 4 that pushes Tampa Bay to within one win of clinching the series.Meanwhile, the Rays beat the Rangers to as Jake Faria pitche...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Meet the state’s top pole vaulter: River Ridge’s Stone Baker

Meet the state’s top pole vaulter: River Ridge’s Stone Baker

NEW PORT RICHEY — Long before he became the best pole vaulter in the state, Stone Baker was 12 years old and liked to play football.He didn't know a vaulting pole from a tennis racket.Then one day his friend, Evan Bales, asked him to come over ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning holds off Devils and David Puddy

Lightning holds off Devils and David Puddy

NEWARK, N.J. — The Devils pulled out all the stops for Wednesday's Game 4 of their Stanley Cup quarter final series with the Lightning by inviting David Puddy at the Prudential Center.For those who do not know who he is, Puddy was Elaine's...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Could Bruce Hector be the sleeper of USF’s draft class?

Could Bruce Hector be the sleeper of USF’s draft class?

TAMPA — His collection of skills seems to ooze NFL draft jargon: hip swivel, burst, agility, leverage, active hands.Over the past three or four months, most — or all — of these attributes have been affixed to USF defensive line...
Updated: 5 hours ago