Why Honda is reluctant to join NASCAR

Equalization trumped innovation Friday as NASCAR announced its rulebook would be amended to outlaw the trick shock absorbers used by Hendrick Motorsports in a 1-2 finish last week at Dover, Del.

Nextel Cup series director John Darby said a technical bulletin would be issued to all teams today at Talladega Superspeedway, where Elliott Sadler won the pole Friday for Sunday's UAW Ford 500. NASCAR historically has valued a level playing field above all else. This decision, prompted by complaints from several teams, is a continuation of that philosophy.

"We want the drivers, the crews and the strategy to decide a race, not some little innovative deal," NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter said. "We want the cars to be as equal as can be and let the best teams win. That has served the sport pretty well to date."

That logic didn't sit well with Dover winner and points leader Jimmie Johnson, who said his crew chief, Chad Knaus, shouldn't be castigated simply for being "a very sharp man."

"The thing I don't like," Johnson said after his 10th-place qualifying run, "is the five Roush cars can go on a tear and nobody says anything, then we go out and win a race and so we've got to be cheating. It does get frustrating, but I choose to take it as a compliment."

Darby said the shock absorbers used by Johnson and runner-up Kyle Busch were legal but circumvented the spirit of the rulebook.

Instead of absorbing bumps, they were designed to jack up the car's rear end every time it hit a bump. So for most of the race, the tails were elevated about an inch, creating more aerodynamic downforce on the rear spoilers.

"The parts and pieces were within in the rulebook," Darby said, "but the shock build was not really within the intent of the rule. They're supposed to absorb shocks, not be a spring assist or a jack. Forty-one teams understood that. Two chose not to." More at Indy Star

[Editor's Note: This article makes it clear as to why Honda is reluctant to go to NASCAR. This is a prime example of where it does not matter what advantage you might gain from being smarter than the next guy, NASCAR will take it away in a flash. Hence teams have to revert to cheating to gain any advantage whatsoever. That isn't the sort of environment Honda wants to be in. With that said, who can criticize NASCAR for their philosophy. Given their huge popularity, it works for Americans.

So will Honda subject itself to this environment in NASCAR, or remain loyal to open wheel racing? Time will tell, but if Honda is willing to work within these sort of parameters in NASCAR, why can't they agree to multiple badging of a common engine in Champ Car/IRL until such time as the sport gets back on its feet? We predict that once two companies agree to the low-cost multiple badging concept, more will quickly jump aboard and open wheel racing, using a NASCAR philosophy of equal equipment, will begin to see an immediate increase in popularity: Ford vs. Chevy vs. Honda, etc…….it's all very doable at an extremely attractive price and open wheel racing becomes a marketing platform to help sell passenger cars, just like NASCAR.]

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