Local News

Driver's Motto: "It's Not Cheating Until You Get Caught"

Posted September 23, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT

— Three weeks ago, car ownerJack Roushaccused Winston Cup points leader Jeff Gordon's crew of tampering with tires.

Gordon's team was cleared of the accusation, but once again it reminded race fans that teams - allegedly - bend the rules to gain an advantage.

Drivers are breaking the bank, but are they also breakingNASCAR'srules?

"No question about it, I could name five teams right now that are cheating," says driver Chad Little. "I could tell you who they are and what they are doing."

"I wouldn't say what anybody is doing is cheating," says driver Dale Jarrett. "You just take the rules to the limit."

From engine to tires, there are strict rules that cover every inch of every car. But technically, race teams are far superior to NASCAR, and they can slip something by the inspectors.

"NASCAR runs the series, we build the cars," Little said. "It's difficult for them to keep up with it."

"If it gets to the point where somebody feels like they can get away with something illegal, then I feel like we haven't done our job right to convince them not to try," Winston Cup Series Director Gary Nelson said.

The inspectors check every nook and cranny of every Ford, Chevy or Pontiac on the Winston Cup circuit, but the real policemen are in the garage.

"One guy sees you do something, they will go and rat on you, so that is their best inspection system, the competitors," car owner Richard Childress said.

Call it what you want, teams are pushing the rules to the limit, and following a common motto:

"It's not cheating until you get caught," driver Bobby Hamilton said.