After the ugliness that played out with the events at Phoenix and the ensuing penalties, will fans find that watching the race at Homestead equates to trying not to look at a bad wreck while driving down the road?
NASCAR has spoken with their penalties and assessment of the retaliatory move Jeff Gordon made to take out Clint Bowyer, the mob mentality of the No. 15 team and comments made by the points leader.
Many fans of the sport are finding themselves disgusted with inconsistent calls by the sanctioning body. It sometimes seems that who does what becomes more important than what they did.
Jeff Gordon was fined $100,000 and 25 drivers points with probation until December 31st. That sum of money is pocket change to the driver and Hendrick Motorsports.
The 25 points may keep Gordon off the podium at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards Ceremony, but when you are not a contender for the title, the importance of 10th in points doesn't much matter.
So far as probation for Gordon and his crew chief until the end of the year, not much racing goes on after the race at Homestead.
Other penalties assessed to Rick Hendrick as the owner and Alan Gustafson are basically irrelevant.
Feedback from fans has varied from outrage that Gordon wasn't suspended for the last race of the season to those who said Bowyer had it coming to him, regardless of his chance to contend for the title.
Fans also were vocal about members of the 5-hour Energy team not being suspended or fired. The mob mentality they exhibited made the sport look like it was full of hoodlums to some viewers.
Ultimately the crew chief is responsible for the actions of his team. Brian Pattie, crew chief for the No. 15, was fined $25,000 and placed on probation until December 31st.
Brad Keselowski is likely the man to bring the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup title to Penske Racing upon completion of the Ford Eco Boost 400 at Homestead.
Keselowski was vocal in the media center at Phoenix with his expletive-laced tirade about the racing at the track. Swearing in front of the media has not been deemed worthy of a penalty yet.
Keselowski was hailed as a hero for tweeting pictures at Daytona from his cell phone when Juan Pablo Montoya crashed into the jet dryer being used on the track.
Oddly, after his comments at Phoenix, he was fined $25,000 based on violation of Sections 12-1 and 20-6.7A that basically deals with a driver not being able to carry certain electronic devices in their car.
Keselowski had his cell phone in his car just as he usually does.
Inconsistent calls with cautions at Phoenix alone were questionable. Had NASCAR called for a caution after Bowyer first hit Gordon and debris flew from the 24 car as he brushed the wall, the debacle would have been avoided.
The cars that were wrecked because of an oil slick after Jeff Burton hit Danica Patrick should have resulted in a caution with Patrick's smoking car still on the track.
It was the final lap and Kevin Harvick would have still taken the checkered flag, but the cost of damaged cars could have been avoided.
This was just one race. Inconsistent calls and penalties, some of which were overturned on appeal, as with Hendrick Motorsports, have riddled the season.
Now, here we are at the season finale. Some have found a high boredom factor with long green-flag runs at many tracks. Fans complain about drivers not showing personality and the lack of rivalries.
At Phoenix, we saw drivers exhibit just how passionate they are about the sport of NASCAR. Even the crews displayed emotion atypical of modern-era racing.
The drama that played out during the final laps of the race in Phoenix resonated on news reports around the world. NASCAR was in the headlines for better or worse.
Bowyer and Gordon will likely carry on their dislike for each other into future seasons, so a rivalry has been set in stone.
Johnson will have to pull out the stops to make up the 20-point deficit he has in the standings if he is to be a six-time Cup champion. Will Keselowski find himself having troubles like that of the 48 team in Phoenix?
Some drivers are still searching for their first win of the season, and others want to win at all costs to gain momentum for the 2013 season.
NASCAR's decisions this year certainly didn't please everyone, and sometimes it is almost as though they don't agree with anyone.
There are many storylines as we head to Homestead.
It remains to be seen if fans are truly turned off by the decisions made by NASCAR, or if it will bring in even more fans who can't wait to see what happens next.
Opinions expressed are strictly those of the writer.
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