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`24 Hours' result is checkered

I am curious why there has not been an uproar over the fact that the car that won the 24 Hours of Daytona two weeks ago was illegal.

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I am curious why there has not been an uproar over the fact that the car that won the 24 Hours of Daytona two weeks ago was illegal.

Yes, the Brumos Porsche team with drivers David Donohue, Darren Law, Antonio Garcia and Buddy Rice flunked post-race inspection because it was more than 12 pounds underweight.

But because the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series is now owned by NASCAR, the team did not lose its victory but was docked points and fined $500.

If this had happened in any other professional racing series – the IRL, Formula One, et al – the car and drivers would have been disqualified.

But not when you race under the NASCAR umbrella. NASCAR, apparently, doesn’t want its fans to watch someone win a race and then find out the next day that somebody else won it.

So it looks the other way.

The most glaring example of this see-no-evil behaviour was the 1984 Firecracker 400 at Daytona – Richard Petty’s 200th win and with then-president Ronald Reagan in attendance. In the teardown later, Petty’s engine was deemed to be illegal. NASCAR turned out to be blind and deaf when this fact was pointed out.

In the Daytona 24 case, those missing 12 pounds may very well explain why Juan Pablo Montoya wasn’t able to get past Donohue in the final hour on Jan. 25. In the end, he lost by less than a second – .167 to be precise.

So why hasn’t Montoya (or his teammates) said anything since? Or Chip Ganassi, who owned the second-place car?

What’s really curious is that this was apparently not news to just about the whole world.

To my knowledge, only Autosport magazine has ever reported the transgression – and the information wasn’t published on its website until five days after the race.

When there are few, if any, sanctions applied as a result of illegal or immoral actions, this is what you get and it’s why cheating is rampant in NASCAR and soon will be in Grand-Am.

Oakville racer comes close

Although Canadians racing in the Daytona 24 didn’t do all that well (see last week’s column at wheels.ca), Kenny Wilden of Oakville nearly won the preliminary KONI Challenge race.

With four laps remaining, Wilden – wheeling a Ford Mustang GT with co-driver Dean Martin – took the lead. But Bill Auberlen in a BMW M3 got a “push” from Hugh Plumb’s Mustang and they both got past, dropping Wilden to third.

Before the Canadian could counterattack, there was a wreck and the race ended under yellow with Auberlen (co-driver Matthew Bell) in first, Plumb (Jack Roush Jr.) second and Wilden and Martin third.

Other Canadians:

Matt Pritiko of London and Travis Walker of Mississauga, driving for the Toronto-based Compass 360 team, finished 19th overall and third in the ST class. Two other Compass 360 cars finished 26th overall (10th in class) and 29th (12th).

Ashley McCalmont and Kirk Spencer, both of Ancaster, finished 20th overall and fourth in the ST class, driving for Georgian Bay Motorsports of Owen Sound. Their sister car, driven by Americans Lawson Aschenbach and Pat Iannucci, finished 17th overall and first in class.

Andrew Danyliw of Toronto and Gunter Schmidt of Midland finished 30th overall and 13th in the ST class.

Daniel DiLeo of Uxbridge finished 45th overall and 24th in the GS class.

Fraser Wellon of Mississauga was entered but withdrew.

Two biggies on tap

Still with Daytona, Speedweeks are in full swing and the first two big races of the season, the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200, starring the cars and drivers of the ARCA/REMAX Stock Car Series, and the NASCAR Budweiser Shootout take centre stage this afternoon and tonight.

Of particular interest to Canadians will be J.R. Fitzpatrick’s run in the ARCA race (Speed Channel, 4 p.m.).

Fitzpatrick, of Cambridge, will fire up a Chevrolet late model for TRG Motorsports of Mooresville, N.C., this afternoon and then will be in that team’s No. 7 Chevy truck in Friday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, also from Daytona (Speed Channel, 8 p.m.).

“Every racer’s dream is to compete at Daytona and that’s what we’re going to do,” said Fitzpatrick, who was the 2006 CASCAR national champion at 18.

The NASCAR Shootout can be seen tonight on TSN at 8 p.m.

Freedom of the press … to clap

When Larry Fitzgerald scored one of his touchdowns in last Sunday’s Super Bowl, his father was in the press box covering the game for a Minneapolis newspaper.

Said NBC announcer Al Michaels: “Larry Fitzgerald Sr., keeping with tradition of no cheering in the press box, is not showing any emotion.”

No cheering in the press box?

When Robert Kubica won the Grand Prix of Canada last June in Montreal, the 200 or so reporters all started yelling, whistling and clapping. Ditto when Graham Rahal won the St. Petersburg IRL race.

I was mortified both times. I’m old newspaper too.

Bits and bites

Darren Law, a member of the winning Daytona 24 team, was born in Toronto. However he started racing karts at age 11 when he was living in California … I suggest 2010 will be the year the music dies for Formula One. Honda’s gone already but listen up: ING has withdrawn millions from Renault’s program and will be gone by year’s end. You can take that to the bank. Renault was iffy in recent years and losing ING will be the final nail in the coffin. Mercedes stayed in this year, but the vote by the Daimler board to do so was paper thin, 3-2 for. A bad 2009 and the vote in December by the parent company could be 3-2 against. Toyota has to win races this year or it’s gone. Trust me. And if BMW doesn’t win the championship, it will be gone too. In short, there’s trouble in River City … Teddy Mayer, who died this week, was the last link back to the original Team McLaren of Can-Am and F1 fame. He and Bruce McLaren started the company in 1963, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Norris McDonald writes about motorsport each week in Wheels.nmcdonald@thestar.ca

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