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DATE News (chronologically)
04/26/07
nascar
Skinner joins Stewart in exposing NASCAR manipulation  It does not pay to work too hard in NASCAR because if you do so and gain an advantage NASCAR will simply take it away.  Why?  Because NASCAR manages its racing and its results.  It has stopped being a sport and is now strictly an entertainment show.  It's races have so many commercial breaks (to pay for the huge amount of cash the TV networks pay NASCAR as part of the money-losing deal they signed with them) that the 4-hour long races are becoming unwatchable. 

Earlier this month, the sanctioning body disallowed an intake manifold that Toyota had been running all season in its trucks and Busch cars (Toyota uses the same engine in each) after chassis dynamometer tests revealed the manufacturer had a "significant" horsepower advantage with the part, according to Craftsman Truck Series director Wayne Auton.

"We need to make sure everybody has the same opportunity," Auton said. "If we see somebody that has an advantage over the rest of the garage to where it's hindering competition, we'll react to it."

In the truck series, Toyota is well ahead of the rest. Tundras have won all the races, three of four poles and have 36 manufacturer points compared to 20 for Ford and Chevrolet. And it's not as if Toyotas dominate the entry lists -- at the series' most recent race in Martinsville, Tenn., there were twice as many Chevrolets as Toyotas in the field.

But nowhere near as many running at the front.

"There's enough of an advantage [for Toyota] from point A to point B that my trucks, my setup and my driver, we can't make up for that," said Rick Ren who is Ron Hornaday's crew chief for Kevin Harvick Inc. "We can't run with them down the straightaway, we're just not in that game. I've got to make my stuff get through the corner better."

Ren, whose driver is currently in fourth place in a Chevrolet, has been on both sides of the fence, having worked for Chevrolet teams that were inferior aerodynamically to Dodges in 2001 and then for Toyota when it came into NASCAR in 2004 and quickly became a major force.

"It just makes you work harder, so then when you get a tad bit of a concession somewhere down the road, it will really show up big," Ren said. "But don't think that they don't have other strong parts [at Toyota]. NASCAR didn't just wave a magic wand -- that other manufacturer is pretty sharp."

There are differing opinions within Toyota about whether the ruling is fair. Mike Skinner, the face of Toyota dominance right now with three consecutive wins and the points lead in his manufacturer-sponsored Tundra for Bill Davis Racing, compared the current situation to early 2004 when he drove a Tundra that wasn't yet dominant.

At Atlanta that year he appeared to have a win in the bag until a late caution forced a green-white-checkered finish, which he lost to Bobby Hamilton. Chassis dyno tests after that race showed Hamilton's Dodge to be far superior in horsepower, according to Skinner.

"[NASCAR said] 'Go to work boys, go to work,'" Skinner said. "All the guys at TRD did. They submitted an intake that falls under all the parameters. Now we win four races in Tundras and they're going to take horsepower away from us? What happened to looking at other manufacturers and saying, 'Go to work'?

"It's the wrong way to do it. What are they gonna do next? If you get more than three poles, you've got to start from the back?"

Auton said NASCAR wouldn't rule out more moves if it perceives a continued competitive imbalance.

Interestingly, even as all this doesn't sit too well with some Toyota drivers, there are no objections from the top at TRD.

"The approval of this manifold was a conditional approval. When we ended up having a perceived advantage, [the ruling] did not come as a surprise," White said. "I welcome the fact that they care enough about all the competitors to make the playing field level. If we were on the other side of it, I would now expect exactly the same action to be taken.

"We're not mad, it's part of doing business here." In part from ESPN.com

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