NASCAR's inspection process...
NASCAR's inspection process has become more sophisticated in recent years. The process is ongoing on race weekends.
During his time as a crewchief, McReynolds was considered one of the top minds in the business, with a Daytona 500 victory among his 23 wins. A quick search of the racing records shows that McReynolds was caught by the tech inspectors more than once, and he'll tell you there were many more times that nobody knew about.
"I think that rule breaking is looked at differently because of the way NASCAR is approaching it today," he says. "My hand was slapped more times than you would ever imagine. But back then they didn't fine me, they didn't suspend me, and they didn't take points away. They would simply confiscate whatever it was they found and say, 'Don't do that again.' But now the stakes are far greater in terms of points, prize money, and the prestige of winning. I believe NASCAR finally decided the old way of doing things simply wasn't working. They would take parts away that didn't meet the rules, and the teams would just go out and make something even better. So they decided to get their attention with their wallets. Taking away team points is also a big deal, because how can you put a price on points if even the loss of a few can potentially cause you to miss the Chase?"
Nextel Cup team owner Bill...
Nextel Cup team owner Bill Davis believes that cheating at stock car racing's highest level is becoming increasingly rare-partly because NASCAR's tech inspectors have gotten better and partly because sponsors are pouring so much money into racing operations that teams are afraid to lose sponsorships if they get labeled as cheaters. Jeff Huneycutt
"I call it 'micro-cheating,'" says Lowe's Motor Speedway's Humpy Wheeler. "That is what we are seeing more of today than anything else. You can't sneak the big things past anymore. NASCAR has gotten more sophisticated in its inspection processes. Still, any form of cheating is not good for the sport. It's not good for the sponsors. This is especially true if a guy has won a race and he's caught cheating.
"Where we really need to be concerned with cheating is if it can cause harm to a driver. I'll give you an example. I bought a race car once that had run Daytona. We were going to use it here for testing and different things. But then the guy working on it called me one day and said, 'You've got to see this.' I went over and found that the car had aluminum rollbars on it. This was when magnetized paint was just becoming available. NASCAR had figured it out pretty quickly, but that car had made it into one Daytona race. So I think that cheating really becomes a problem in the sport when it adds an element of danger."
In the '60s, '70s, and even early '80s, it was easier to use tricks that would provide a significant advantage on the racetrack. NASCAR simply didn't provide enough well-trained manpower in the tech area, and the skills of the cheaters were far ahead of the cops. One of racing's most loved elder statesmen, Darrell Waltrip, was known to roll through inspection with a set of wheels on his car that had several pounds of weight hidden on them. He would be terribly slow in the beginning laps of the race, but after the first pit stop when standard wheels were bolted in place, he would suddenly get a lot faster. It took quite a while before anybody realized the trick, which allowed him to race a car that was significantly lighter than the rest of the field.