Saturday night at the Busch Race, in Milwaukee! It should be a fun time with good racing. But, just like the race at Infineon, and like the Truck race the night before, this race is also fraught with controversy.
Denny Hamlin originally was not going to run this race. However, Rockwell Automation is based in Milwaukee, and according to various reports Rockwell wanted their star to make the trek from California to Wisconsin, in hopes of a win. As a reminder, the day started out poorly for our hero, Denny. He overslept, and missed part of first practice. He had to skedaddle to catch a plane, one that for some reason has to be refueled twice during the trip.
Denny's helicopter could not land on the heliopad, and he asked for permission to land at the track, and was refused. (Rightly, I might add!) He finally lands, declares he will respect Aric Almirola's efforts and won't get in the car.
By lap 60, that had changed. Denny was in the car, and Aric was out. Denny went on to win the race, but there was a great deal of discomfort in Victory Lane.
At this point, all of the finger pointing says that the sponsor, Rockwell Automation, made the decision to pull Aric out of the car. It could well have been Gibbs making the decision to placate the sponsor. We know both the driver or the crew chief claimed to have not been a part of the decision making process.
What a shame for Aric! He was in great equipment, he won the pole, and he was running top 3 at the time. AND, he would not have had to fight from a lap back. We will never know what he could have done. And he gets his a win that he did not 'earn.' It is easy to not find pride in that kind of win.
Denny drove a good race, and we cannot take that away from him.
Whether the decision was made by JD Gibbs, Coach Gibbs or the sponsor, Rockwell got their win, but at what cost? If they indeed insisted that Denny get in the car, then they may need to revise their Standards of Ethics.
Somehow or other, I don't think Aric Almirola will believe the truth of those Ethics statements. It looks like the one about 'fairness' did not apply tonight. If I were an employee of Rockwell, I would be embarassed, no matter WHO made the decision.
Who We Are
You Expect High Standards
You expect your partners and suppliers to adhere to high ethical standards. Working with Rockwell Automation means you are engaging a partner that considers honesty, fairness, quality and responsiveness as guiding principles; and integrity an underlying value in every business transaction.
Our commitment to responsible business practices is absolute. Our employees, officers and directors behave with integrity in all interactions with customers, partners, shareholders, consumers, and governments, and comply with the mandates of our extensive ethics program and conflicts of interest statement.
I just wanted to add one more thought, that I already posted as a response on another blog:
And this cannot be good for NASCAR's diversity effort, either. A Cuban-American gets pulled from the car so that an All-American, Apple-Pie Southerner can get the win.
Edited 06/24/07 at 9:50 AM