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COMMENTARY: Robby's Right, It's Time To End The Past Champion's Provisional

Robby Gordon raced his way into the Daytona 500 Thursday, rebounding from a tire rub at the start of his Gatorade Duel 150 qualifier to post an unlikely Top-5 finish and punch his ticket to the "Great American Race."

Afterward, the always outspoken Gordon ignited a bit of a controversy by criticizing the rule that allowed former Sprint Cup Series champion Terry Labonte to qualify for the race, despite running just 12 laps in his Gatorade Duel before heading to the garage with what was generously termed a "vibration."
"I think (the guaranteed starting spot) should be based on if you were with that team when you win the championship, not just because you win a championship," said Gordon yesterday. "That takes a spot from teams that are working really hard to get in the Daytona 500. Rules are rules, and we made (the race) fair and square by being fast enough. I'm proud of my team and I'm proud to be in the Daytona 500."
Robby Gordon speaks out...Labonte's FasLane Racing, owned by former Roush Fenway Racing crew chief Frank Stoddard, races on a limited budget and came to Daytona without a backup car. A crash in yesterday's Duel would prevent the team from competing in Sunday's main event, so Stoddard wisely instructed his driver to make an early day of it and withdraw from the race, claiming a Past Champion's Provisional good for the 43rd and final starting spot on Sunday. 
Labonte insisted he took advantage of the rules as they exist; doing the smart thing for both himself and his team. "It's the only car we've got," he said. "That wreck was right in front of us, and we just couldn't take a chance on wrecking it. We practiced enough in a pack and... the car's really good. 
"We just couldn't risk it."
Gordon wasn't buying it, saying, "I've got a lot of respect for Terry. This is not a Terry Labonte thing, (but) there are only eight cars that make the Daytona 500. He takes one of those spots; now seven guys make the Daytona 500. Four make it in qualifying races, three make it on speed. It's just not right. Why take a free ride when the rest of us have to bust our butts to get into the 500?"
Gordon's remarks touched a nerve with many fans, who feel - right or wrong - that there are too many guarantees in NASCAR these days. Counting Labonte, 36 drivers arrived in Daytona Beach last week knowing they were locked into the season's most important event, leaving only seven spots to be filled by Saturday afternoon's time-trial qualifying and 300 miles of heat racing yesterday. To many, qualifying for the Daytona 500 has lost its luster, reduced to little more than a week of busy work en route to a starting lineup that is pre-determined in a corporate board room, well in advance.
NASCAR is the only professional sport to reward athletes and teams for something they accomplished long ago. For all their past glory, the Green Bay Packers do not receive a guaranteed spot in the NFL playoffs. The New York Yankees own 27 World Series champions; a lofty statistic that earns them not a single advantage on Opening Day.
Perhaps it's time for NASCAR to simply celebrate its past, rather than living in it. Eliminate the outdated Past Champion's Provisional and begin awarding the final Daytona 500 starting spot to a team that excels today, rather than a driver who excelled a decade or more ago.  
 Photo Credit: Ashley Dickerson/ASP Inc/Icon SM
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February 24, 2012  04:51 PM ET

I sat here complaining to the wife that it will truly be q shame, and hang with me for a long long time, if either Nemachek cars starts and parks, and Kenny Wallace sits outside with a microphone instead of a sterring wheel.
It will happen, the was talk yesterday of only bringing "limited crews" to the dance.

That will be a total unforgivable shame and another thing wrong with crapcar. Fastest should race, the ones who intend to run the race only.

No provisional at all
No start and park. Take away their purse winnings if no valid "failure" can be detected.
Crapcar has rules and inspections for everything else, take care of this please.

Everybody loves bill Elliott, labnte was well liked, especially after his Bristol run in with dale SR., but this is simply selling out on their previous wchievements, totally cheapening the accomplishment. ****'s. That will probably b censored.

February 24, 2012  04:52 PM ET

I am Pondscum, and I approve this message.

February 24, 2012  05:05 PM ET

Danica on the pole for Nationwide. That don't sound right, Danica on the pole. Oh well, it is what it is.

February 24, 2012  05:13 PM ET

Robby right ! ... the Past Champion Provisional came about cause Seven time Winston Cup champion Richard Petty failed to qualify for the spring 1989 race at Richmond. ... That was back when Everyone needed to Qualify on Speed ...

In 1991 the Past Champion's Provisional, was created, which allowed a car owner who had a former Winston Cup champion as his driver to take the 43rd starting position if his car had not otherwise qualified. ...

Terry using his Past Championship from 1996 ~ 16 years Ago ...

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February 24, 2012  05:33 PM ET

Other have Abuse it too ...

Dale Jarrett driving for the NEW Toyota team of MWR in 2007 ... used up his 6 PC by the 10 race in Richmond, and was a DNQ for that race and a total of 12 races ...

Penske transfer the points of the #2 to new team #77 Sam Hornish Jr., and let Kurt who was driving the #2, use his Past Championship in 2008 ...

when Tony Stewart took over Haas in 2009 ... gave #39 Newman points from the #66 Haas car which was in Top35, and took the #70 for his #14 so he could use his past champion ...

February 24, 2012  05:43 PM ET

Danica on the pole for Nationwide. That don't sound right, Danica on the pole. Oh well, it is what it is.

had 3 poles her first year ~ 2005 in IRL Kansas, Kentucky, Chicago ...

and NO more after that ... so 3 poles, 1 Win, in 115 races in IRL ...

Danica on ... A Pole ... sounds naughty

February 24, 2012  05:45 PM ET

Don't like Robby Gordon in any way shape or form but I agree 100% on this.

February 24, 2012  05:50 PM ET

but we have Short memory ...

wait what where we talking about ;-)

oh, ~~~ Danica ...

start 4th in Feb, 7th in July at Daytona NW last year ....

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February 24, 2012  06:04 PM ET

Danica on the pole.

That's GoDaddy's new TV campaign!

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February 24, 2012  06:48 PM ET



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