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Friday, August 8, 2008

Harassment lawsuit heading down ugly road

It wasn’t pretty to start with, but this could get even uglier.

The $225 million lawsuit filed by former NASCAR official Mauricia Grant, claiming repeated racial discrimination and sexual harassment during the time she was employed by NASCAR, just got more interesting, as it was revealed that she has some issues in her past that could reflect on the case.

A former boyfriend once filed a restraining order against Grant, and she also had a DUI arrest, the Associated Press has reported.

NASCAR's initial comment was "Clearly these revelations show that there are always at least two side to every story" and hinted more revelations were to come, and that these actions by Grant are a strike against her character and will play a part in their fight against her claims.

While I don’t think the DUI arrest should be a factor in this lawsuit (it has no impact on whether she was harassed), the restraining order is another issue. If NASCAR can prove that Grant has a history of being unstable and that she harassed her former boyfriend in any way, they can make the argument that she is not a rational person and that her claims of harassment are simply exaggerations of harmless acts.

I’m not saying that’s true. It’s quite possible she was actually harassed, and if that proves to be true she could end up winning a substantial amount of money.

But regardless of who’s done what in the past, there’s no way she’s getting $225 million (that’s a typical inflated lawsuit number), and the fact that these past issues have been discovered could significantly lower the amount she does receive, as there will be doubt about her mental state.

This is no doubt this is just the beginning of the ugliness in the lawsuit. Look for more details to come out about Grant‘s life that may put her accusations up for question, and more details from her to come out about the alleged harassment. The national media would love to follow a salacious trial like this, and it’s the last thing NASCAR wants. I wouldn’t be surprised if they offered to settle with Grant for a much, much smaller amount just to keep it out of the news.

In a move that took much too long, the driver of the #96 car, J.J. Yeley, has lost his ride. The plan is to replace him with the team’s test driver Brad Coleman, who’s been racing in the Nationwide series.
If you really want to know how disappointing Yeley has been in Cup, think back to what car he drove last season -- that’s right, the #18 that has won seven races and kicked everybody else’s butt all this season. Last season, he could only muster a 21st place finish in the standings, and was pretty bad most weeks. After being shipped off the Gibbs satellite team, he did even worse, and has been on the borderline of the top 35 all year, his only highlight being a top 5 in a fuel mileage race.

Look for Yeley to either find another lower-tier Cup ride, or even go down to Nationwide. I don’t see him having many offers from quality teams after how he’s performed. Meanwhile, all I know of Coleman is he’s often running well, but crashes a lot from what I’ve seen. It will be interesting to see how he does in his first chance at Cup, as that car is far from impressive most weeks.

After a somewhat premature media report a couple weeks ago, Martin Truex Jr. will officially be back with DEI next year, possibly longer. I’m sure he got a sweet deal, and I hope Truex can succeed … otherwise, he’ll retire with a bunch of money and very little in terms of wins and success to show for it. As bad as DEI has been this year overall, I could see them turning things around if an investor comes in and improves the operation.

A return to Watkins Glen is exactly what Tony Stewart needs to get back into Victory Lane. He has won four races at the track, and should be up front all day. Assuming he uses the correct pit strategy, he’s the man to beat on Sunday. Behind him should be the usual suspects: namely Jeff Gordon, Robby Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya and a couple road course ringers like Ron Fellows or Boris Said. When it comes to the road course races, many of the drivers are happy to just get out of the weekend with a top 20, as it’s not their specialty. Keep an eye on how this weekend will affect the Chase standings … with so many guys bunched up around 12th, the drivers trying to break in need to have a good weekend to stay in contention. And the ones on the verge of falling off need a good weekend to stay within the top 12.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

anybody thinks tony will win this year are nuts as he gave away win for toyota at daytona i told my son then he was going back to chevy and would not give toyota a win in cup just look at nationwide seres he dont thank toyota not even one time just go back look at interveiw never said thanks. i wish gibbs would sit him out rest of year not let him race at all

August 9, 2008 at 6:17 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you see the press conference when Gibbs announced they were going to Toyota? You should watch it again. Tony mentioned 'Chevrolet' time and time again. But he never said the word 'Toyota' a single time. Not once... and that was during the announced move to Toyota. Stewart will not win this year. If he comes close, something will mysteriously happen to the car.
I think that he will be driving for Haas before the end of this season.

August 10, 2008 at 5:29 AM 
Blogger Matt Myftiu said...

I fully recognize that Tony Stewart is not happy about driving for Toyota.

But I also know that he's very serious about winning and always wants to be No. 1, every single week, regardless of the make of car he's driving.

It's very possible he won't win this season, but it won't be from lack of effort if he doesn't.

August 10, 2008 at 10:10 AM 

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