Sometimes it's good to get a fresh perspective.
I was off last week and watched and read from afar about the collection of Hendrick Motorsports' Nos. 48 and 5 cars following the race at Dover, Del., and the subsequent "warning" NASCAR gave those teams about pushing the limit on tolerances in the construction of the cars.
Watching the issue unfold has been confusing and entertaining.
First, it was hard to grasp. None of the discussion in stories, on TV or in officials' answers made it clear what exactly the issue was with the Hendrick cars. In fact, it wasn't until Tuesday that I discovered it's how the bodies are married (for lack of a better term) to the chassis.
This is an area that cannot be easily detected by visual inspection but can be isolated by NASCAR's 3-dimensional scanning techniques at its research and development center in Concord.
It was also clear that everyone has an opinion about it was a "big deal" or not.
I think the only reason anyone knew about it at all was due to a query posed by Claire B. Lang, a reporter for Sirius Satellite Radio. And even then, it was only because NASCAR officials provided a candid response.
Since the cars passed inspection, NASCAR could have easily waved off the question and avoided the issue altogether. In retrospect, that would probably have caused much less hassle for NASCAR.
However, since officials acknowledged that they had warned the teams about heading in a direction that could warrant penalties, the issue took on a life of its own.
There were those who thought it was no issue at all since, technically, the Hendrick teams had done nothing wrong. That is true, but anything that is given a once-over on a team in the thick of a tight championship battle is newsworthy. Had they been double-checking Mark Martin's safety belts, nobody would have made note of it.
Then there were those who thought NASCAR acted unfairly by giving advance warning to the Hendrick teams, preventing them from "getting caught."
NASCAR has randomly hauled in the new cars for a closer inspection since they were first implemented in Sprint Cup competition. And numerous crew chiefs have told me they have had issues pointed out to them after such inspections.
The only thing "new" here was that it became public.
There were also some who thought the issue was raised by NASCAR officials to detract from (fill in your favorite NASCAR criticism here). I can tell you that on the list of topics NASCAR officials would prefer to not discuss, this issue does not rank any better than sagging TV ratings.
And then there was the final group. The people who wondered, "Why wasn't Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s team let in on this secret?"
I may have been on vacation, but even I saw that one coming.