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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

NASCAR inconsistent in how it punishes ‘rough driving’

There was plenty of buzz this weekend over the Truck race at in St. Louis and what happened to Matt Crafton, who was penalized for rough driving (send to the back of the pack) after getting involved in two wrecks – one with Todd Bodine and one with Ron Hornaday – and putting a couple big names in the wall.

To hear about it, you would think he was a menace on the track, tracking down targets and dumping them. But when I finally got around to watching the race, I saw something different. I saw a couple of racing incidents that in my view did not indicate “rough driving” by Crafton.

The penalty made me realize that NASCAR is extremely inconsistent with how it enforces this rarely used rule against rough driving. Let’s look within this same race first. The entire race was a ridiculous wreckfest. The Truck series is known for its wrecks, but you couldn’t blink Saturday without seeing a handful of cars all wadded up and smacking the wall. I’m sure there were a few yahoos driving around like idiots throughout the race and causing wrecks, but none of them got called to the pits for a penalty.

Or let’s look back in history. How many times did Dale Earnhardt Sr. purposely knock other drivers into the wall in Cup races? It’s fair to say that was a pretty common occurrence. But I can only recall him being penalized for rough driving a couple of times.

Call me crazy, but maybe that has something to do with the fact he was the biggest superstar in the sport. And maybe Crafton’s penalty has something to do with the guys he hit being Truck series stars of the level of Bodine and Hornaday. Bodine got off to a slow start then came down in front of Crafton and blocked, so that wreck was his fault, and the Hornaday wreck was just two guys fighting hard for a spot. Even put together, they don’t merit a penalty.

Hornaday himself has been known to knock a few people around, and I can’t remember the last time he was penalized.

However you slice it, and regardless of whether this is a conspiracy or not, there seems to be some inconsistency of how this penalty is enforced.

And Crafton got a raw deal this weekend.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are exactly right.

September 17, 2009 at 7:28 AM 

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