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How embarrassing: NASCAR execs tell stock car teams 'no more taking a dive'
No more taking a dive.

That's the word from NASCAR's Brian France and Mike Helton, in their latest reaction to the Richmond-playoff mess, in which a number of teams apparently tried to manipulate the outcome.

The new rule, offered to teams in a rare Saturday pre-race mass meeting, reads:

"NASCAR requires its competitors to race at 100 percent of their ability with the goal of achieving their best possible finishing position in an event.

"Any competitor who takes action with the intent to artificially alter the finishing positions of the event or encourages, persuades or induces others to artificially alter the finishing position of the event shall be subject to a penalty from NASCAR.

"Such penalties may include but are not limited to disqualification and/or loss of finishing points and/or fines and/or loss of points and/or suspension and/or probation to any and all members of the teams, including any beneficiaries of the prohibited actions.

"'Artificially altered' shall be defined as actions by any competitor that show or suggest that the competitor did not race at 100 percent of their ability for the purpose of changing finishing positions in the event at NASCAR's sole discretion."

Clearly the NASCAR reaction to the Richmond mess is still evolving.

Friday's late afternoon decision putting Jeff Gordon back into the chase came after NBC News worked Chicagoland Speedway, talking to Michael Waltrip and fans about the Richmond controversies, for a lead NBC Nightly News story.

Helton offered some examples to help define 'artificially alter,' but said it was not all-inclusive, just a working list.

"This is 'day one' of this phase of NASCAR and its responsibility to the fans and to the industry of regulating the sport around this topic," Helton said.

"This is the acceptable:
" -- Contact while racing for position;
" -- performance issues;
" -- drafting;
" -- pitting;
" -- tire management;
" -- fuel management;
" -- yielding to a faster car;
" -- alternative pit strategy;
" -- long fuel strategy;
" -- laying over -- you lay over for one, you lay over for all.'"

And what's now clearly 'unacceptable'?

Helton, again:
" --  Offering a position in exchange for favor or material benefit;
" -- offering material benefit in exchange for track position;
" -- directing a driver to give up a position to the benefit of another driver;
" -- intentionally causing a caution;
" -- causing a caution for the benefit of or determinant of another driver;
" -- intentionally wrecking a competitor;
" -- intentionally pitting, pulling into the garage to gain advantage for another competitor."

That's not all.
NASCAR says it will more tightly police the team spotters.
-- Only one spotter per team on the spotter's stand;
-- that spotter can only use two radios, which must be analog, not digital anymore;
-- and NASCAR will install a camera up there to monitor the spotters.

And, perhaps in light of the Richmond restart controversies, NASCAR will readdress restart rules.
However Helton said none of the changes would affect the sport's notorious 'start-and-park' teams.
Helton indicated that fan reaction to NASCAR's two no-call rules on apparent restart jumps by Brad Keselowski over Brian Scott in the Nationwide race and by Carl Edwards over Paul Menard in the Cup race had prompted NASCAR to rethink how it handles such restarts.

Helton dismissed questions about the 'probation' on the Penske operation for Richmond questions in light of previously ordered 'probation' for those trick rear ends at Texas.
"Probation, from NASCAR's perspective, is sometimes isolated to a particular area," Helton said.  "The March incident (with Penske's two Cup teams) were unacceptable parts, unapproved parts.
"We had a situation a few races later where there was a height issue post-race with one of the cars. And we were very clear that probation didn't apply in that case because it wasn't an unapproved part category."

In the Saturday meeting in the garage with teams, France pointed to "the character of the sport, and the necessity for us protecting it.

"My hope is that we'll have greater clarity, and have that 'line' as bright as possible -- because we're about delivering for our fans what they expect, and that's the best racing." MikeMulhern.net

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