(EDITOR’S NOTE: Kevin Ramsell is the Director of Business/Midwest Editor of Speed51.com. The views which are expressed in the following column are his own and not necessarily the views of Speed51.com and/or its partners)
Last weekend at the Pete Orr Memorial 100 at New Smyrna Speedway in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, another chapter was written in the legend of Ricky Brooks’ “Room of Doom." Unofficial winner Dalton Sargeant and unofficial third place finisher William Byron failed post-race tech because each of their cars went over the left side weight by 0.2 and 0.3% of the allowed 58.0%.
As soon as word got out that both were disqualified, social media once again started to question as to why they were disqualified by Brooks, the lead technical inspector at the Pete Orr event and more Southeastern Super and Pro Late Model events, and does that weight variance gave those drivers a true advantage.
This is coming at the same time that the NFL is investigating the New England Patriots on whether or not they played with footballs that fell below their air pressure guidelines.
Again, people across social and traditional media outlets spent the past few days questioning whether or not a half-pound or a pound of air gave Tom Brady and his teammates an advantage in a clear blow out win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game.
The big question that has everyone asking is whether or not there were advantages in either situation to the outcome of the race or football game.
On Friday afternoon, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell held his annual press conference before the Super Bowl. Sure enough, one person stood up and asked Mr. Goodell if the lowered air pressure in the footballs was truly an advantage.
His answer to that question could also speak for the reason for the post-race disqualifications.
“The 32 teams are partners in everything and expects us to follow those rules. If there are rules that dictate the pressure of footballs or there are rules about how the game is played between the white lines, we are going to enforce those rules,” Goodell said. “They will be enforced whether with penalties, with financial penalties, suspensions, draft choices, any number of things can be in the context of that if it is a violation of the rules.
“Whether a competitive advantage was actually gained or not is secondary in my mind to whether that rule was violated. That is the integrity of our game, and when those rules are violated, we will take that seriously.”
Sargeant echoed what Goodell said on Friday after his disqualification last weekend.
“It’s definitely a tough way to lose a race,” Sargeant told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “It’s not ideal but rules are rules and we all have to abide by them for the benefit of competition. Ricky Brooks is easily the best technical director in all of short track racing and he’s made short track racing better than when he initially got on the scene. You have to respect a person like that and the job he does every event.”
Brooks backed up that statement in a story on Speed51.com last year after John Hunter Nemechek was disqualified from a Southern Super Series race at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville for an illegal driveshaft. (Click Here to read full article)
“You have to draw the line somewhere and the rules clearly do that,” Brooks said in the article. “Everyone is always trying to find a performance advantage and we are trying to eliminate the need to bring in expensive parts to the sport. We are trying to eliminate the need to spend $60,000 on a motor."
No matter what sport it is, rules are there for a reason. That reason is define a limit or take something in a gray area and make black and white.
Performance is not always the reason why that rule is there. It is there to ensure that everyone is playing within the same boundaries.
Some will try to make the performance argument as a way try to give a reason why there is an investigation or a disqualification. But why waste your time trying to do that?
Like Goodell said, the competitive advantage gained or not is secondary. It’s the integrity of the game that is the top concern.
- Kevin Ramsell, Speed51.com Director of Business/Midwest Editor. Twitter: @KevinRamsell
Photo Credit: Speed51.com