No need to get worked up about probation

BY Larry McReynolds • April 22, 2009

By now, I'm sure all of you have heard about NASCAR putting Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Casey Mears on probation for their little postrace game of bumper cars at Phoenix International Raceway Saturday night.

I guess there's one part of me that is saying, "I can't believe NASCAR just did that." And trust me, if they would have fined or taken championship points away from Mears or Dale Jr., I'd be up on the wheel with my criticism — trust me.

But based on what I've seen in the past, probation means absolutely nothing, So I'm not going to get too up in arms about this latest news. To me, this is like when the teacher caught you doing something bad in school and she took out the ruler, popped you on your knuckles, and asked how you liked that punishment. I haven't seen where probation means anything in NASCAR. Now, the governing body may end up proving me wrong somewhere down the road, and we all find out that it means something, but so far I haven't seen it.

One reason I think NASCAR ended up putting Dale and Casey on probation is because they used their race cars during the cool down lap and on pit road, when crew men and officials were migrating onto the track itself.

What's wrong?

Dale Jr.

Now that all three of his Hendrick teammates have celebrated in Victory Lane, Dale Jr. needs to get it together to join the party, Larry McReynolds says.

Would I have preferred to have seen NASCAR keep their whistle in their pocket and not issue any penalties? Of course — just go back to my column a week ago to see my feelings about that. But I guess NASCAR could have been a lot harsher than a probation penalty, so I'm not going to get up in arms. I'm not happy about it, and I found myself rheotorically asking, "Why are you doing this, NASCAR?" but it could have been worse.

Fans, don't worry about this. Truth be told, Casey Mears and Dale Earnhardt Jr. aren't worrying about this. Let's get ready for Talladega. We know we are going to have exciting races this weekend, so let's focus on that instead of this piece of news.

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