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Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Penalty upheld, and process improved


CONCORD, N.C. -- It was a tough call today. Sit outside of NASCAR's Research and Development Center and wait for the final appeal of Clint Bowyer's penalty at New Hampshire, or go to Martinsville and take laps around the half-mile track with David Reutimann.

Reutimann was the sexier story considering his run-in with Kyle Busch on Sunday at Kansas. It started the debate on whether a non-Chase driver has the right to pay back a Chase driver, something Reutimann addressed with reporters before taking them for a spin.

"Sometimes in life there comes a time when you've got to stand your ground and sometimes you have to do what, at the time, you know is not right and you look back and you may could have done things differently," Reutimann told reporters in Martinsville. "But in the end you sometimes have to stand up and do what's right by you.

"It's a slippery slope because if you're talking to a child, you're trying to project the right way to do things, you also have to explain that is not the way you want things to be done but sometimes you're backed into a corner and you don't' have a choice."

This was a huge topic of conversation as about half a dozen of us sat outside of the R&D Center for what I've dubbed "Survivor Concord: The Final Appeal." Greg Biffle even stopped by and shared his thoughts, ultimately saying he wouldn't put himself in the position Busch did by wrecking Reutimann earlier in the race.

For the record, I'm on the side that if payback is OK -- as NASCAR has allowed all season -- then it shouldn't matter whether you're in the Chase or not.

As you see from the dateline on this blog, I chose to go to Concord. I had to finish what was started last Wednesday when the National Stock Car Racing Commission ended a five-hour marathon by unanimously rejecting Richard Childress' appeal.

Today was much different. Instead of rain and cold, it was sunny and breezy. We also brought supplies such as chairs, power cords and food.

Childress' mood coming out of this appeal was just as different as the weather. A week ago he was angry, defiant, calling the process unfair. On Tuesday he was smiling, much more pleased with the way this process went.

He called it fair.

He is right. If NASCAR wants to end the bashing of its appeals process, then make the initial appeal more like Tuesday's before chief appellate officer John Middlebrook.

Allow both parties to have their say in front of each other. Allow them to cross-examine each other.

Put all the cards on the table.

That way more owners may leave that appeal like Childress left this one, believing they had been completely heard and feeling they had all the facts, not feeling like they were cheated.

"[If] today's procedure was done similar to that at the other appeal, we wouldn't be here today," Childress said.

And I wouldn't be sitting in a blue camping chair waiting to hear Middlebrook's final verdict. I would have been in Martinsville hearing Reutimann defend his right to take out Busch.