NASCAR's Controversial Calls

Kelly CrandallSenior Writer IOctober 7, 2008

After Sunday's Amp Energy 500 at Talladega in which the car that crossed the finish line first didn't win the race, it immediately sparked controversy and outrage.

It wouldn't be NASCAR's style to not have some form of controversial call or fans doing everything they can to get their voice heard about how much NASCAR screwed up.

This week is no different and it brings up the issue of some of NASCAR's other calls "that could/should have been," depending on how you personally view them.

Talladega and Daytona always seem to offer up fantastic finishes and also seem to offer up the most drama.

In April of 2004 Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were side-by-side when the caution came out. Brian Vickers had spun behind them and NASCAR needed to decide who was the race winner since they had not yet implemented the Green-White-Checkered finish.

When Gordon was declared the victor, a war broke out between the people in Talladega, Alabama and NASCAR. Jeff Gordon took the brunt of it, anything that could be picked up was hurled at the 24 car.

Even Dale Earnhardt Jr., who felt he was ahead of Gordon, handled it better than some of his fans, saying to his team on the radio "No matter what happens (the result) we handle it with class."

So, move ahead to last season when in the Craftsman Truck Series, Travis Kvapil, Jack Sprague, and Johnny Benson finished three wide at Daytona. Many cried foul because it appeared Benson had gone below the yellow line to pass Kvapil for second position.

However, when looking at the replays it seems that only two of Benson's four tires were below the line. Now, I'm by no means and official and certainly don't have a rulebook (one could only hope that NASCAR will publicly sell them so we can all see the rules in black and white). But I would say that two tires are testy and four is foul.

NASCAR must have heard me because Benson wasn't penalized.

That would become an afterthought when two days later at the end of the Daytona 500 Mark Martin and Kevin Harvick were door-to-door heading for the finish line when chaos occurred behind them.

NASCAR chose not to throw the caution, since fans seem to like a race to the finish, and Harvck beat Martin to the line. Fans felt that NASCAR had robbed Martin, like Smith, by not throwing the flag. NASCAR's response was that the accident was behind the leaders and wouldn't have affected the outcome.

So to end the year the rulebook would be brought out again, this time at Kansas.

NASCAR would end the race early due to darkness and lights not being installed at the track. As the cars came back to the line, leader Greg Biffle slowed down and coasted below the yellow line.

In the process of what he said was taking off his helmet and gloves, Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson passed and beat Biffle to the flag. Biffle was declared the winner even though Bowyer, Johnson and the people of Kansas demanded that Bowyer be given the win.

Then again, Bowyer is from Kansas.

NASCAR never really had a clear cut response other than that Biffle needed to maintain caution speed.

A book could be written about all the times NASCAR found themselves knee deep in muddy waters. Like Dale Earnhardt Jr. passing the pace car at Michigan. Like Brian Vickers restart at Texas in the  Nationwide Series in 2003 that cost him his first win.

There was Denny Hamlin vs. Brad Keselowski at Charlotte and penalties were only handed down to Keselowksi.

NASCAR wants everyone to play fair and follow the rules. However, that doesn't seem possible when no one (Regan Smith) really know what rules apply and when. Sure they have drivers meetings but it appears that everyone comes away with a different interpretation.

NASCAR-please publish the rulebook. Why are you hiding it? Let the fans, media, drivers and teams all finally see what is really in there, so that no one is explaining their "interpretation" of the rule.

Then maybe you won't have to always explain yourself. Although I highly doubt that.