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Analysis: NASCAR inconsistent with fines

| Monday, May 6, 2013, 9:06 p.m.

Ryan Newman, no stranger to harrowing accidents at restrictor-plate tracks, had just witnessed Kurt Busch's car barrel-roll on top of his at the end of a long and dreary day. The closing laps of a Talladega race are frantic by nature, and Sunday it was wet and cold and getting darker by the second when the 12-car accident erupted on the backstretch with six laps remaining.

So he stepped up to the live television camera and let it all out.

“They can build safer race cars, they can build safer walls. But they can't get their heads out of their (expletive) far enough to keep them on the race track, and that's pretty disappointing,” Newman said. “I wanted to make sure I get that point across. Y'all can figure out who ‘they' is.”

Logic would say those comments are going to cost Newman.

Only logic doesn't apply anymore and NASCAR's decisions seem to be changing on a daily basis.

It was just two months ago that Denny Hamlin was slapped with a $25,000 fine for the fairly mild assessment that NASCAR's new car at Phoenix “did not race as good as our generation five cars. This is more like what the generation five was at the beginning.”

Roughly six weeks later, Brad Keselowski escaped punishment for essentially accusing NASCAR of unfairly targeting his team after inspectors confiscated parts from both Penske Racing cars before the Texas race.

NASCAR also let Keselowski slide in February when he made wide-ranging and critical comments about the direction of the sport in a USA Today profile. He was, however, summoned to a meeting at NASCAR headquarters with chairman Brian France and International Speedway Corp. chairwoman Lesa France Kennedy.

France has attempted to put boundaries on what drivers can and can't say, and the new car and the quality of racing are out of bounds. Everything Newman said is technically allowable under France's guidelines, and after all the incidents Newman has experienced at plate tracks, his comments might even be justifiable.

But he had a message he wanted to deliver in front of a live television audience. And now Newman waits to see which way the wind is blowing.

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