Helton: Appeals rulings don’t undermine NASCAR’s authority

jutter@charlotteobserver.comMay 10, 2013 

— Despite a pair of losses in the appeals process this week, NASCAR President Mike Helton said he doesn’t look at it as an “us against them” proposition.

“It’s us doing our job and them doing their job,” Helton said Friday at Darlington Raceway. “Our due process is as strong as any in sports and it takes its course.

“That’s what due process is all for. I will say that every one of them has an opportunity to gain experience and we’ve done a lot of that recently.”

On Tuesday, John Middlebrook, the chief appellate officer, cut in half the suspensions of seven team members at Penske Racing for violations found prior to the Texas race.

On Wednesday, a unanimous three-member National Stock Car Racing appeals panel greatly reduced the points penalty assessed to Matt Kenseth’s team for an engine violation and rescinded several others.

Helton said he did not think the decisions undermined NASCAR’s authority to police the sport.

“I think (those) involved in this sport understand our responsibility and how seriously we take it and I don’t feel like this in any way undermines what we do,” he said.

“In most cases the processes don’t come back with anything that really changes our mind much. We do our job and the due process exists for the members to have an opportunity for others to listen to it and the decisions are made that way.”

Helton said NASCAR will use the results this week to make possible changes in its rules and how they are spelled out.

“I think we’ve got quite a bit of evidence in clearing up things,” he said.

Regardless of the outcome, Helton said he doesn’t believe NASCAR needs to alter its appeals process.

“I think the integrity of the appeal process needs to be maintained as independent of the regulating arm of NASCAR,” he said.

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