Blogs > Nascar: Beyond the Track

Find out what's really going on in NASCAR. Look here to find out why your driver really lost his ride, or the real reason those two drivers can't stand each other. Learn about the hidden motives and reasons for the things that happen in NASCAR, from the drivers to the team owners.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Is NASCAR only worried about safety when stars are in trouble?

Normally, practice sessions during a NASCAR weekend are far from exciting as television programming. Usually, everyone is just making laps, no one races each other hard, and it’s just an opportunity to fine-tune the cars before qualifying or the race.

Not so at Talladega, where tempers were flaring during a couple practice sessions Friday that was more interesting than some races I’ve seen in recent weeks.

There was 4-wide racing, and some really close bump-drafting. Not surprisingly, with all this tight racing action, there were some wrecks as a result.
The news highlight of the sessions was Michael Waltip being parked for the final half hour of the last practice by NASCAR, after driving too aggressively while bump-drafting behind Jimmie Johnson.

Waltrip had been warned by NASCAR, which is being cautious after the wild end to the spring Talladega race and is policing bump-drafting closely, and he didn’t back off. Hence the parking.

Another more humorous note involves Kyle Busch, who wasn’t happy with how Jimmie Johnson was racing him in the first practice. On the radio, he joked with his crew chief that maybe Jimmie’s brother Jarit Johnson (a driver in the lower regional series who hasn’t yet made the leap to the big 3 series) was really behind the wheel.
That’s pretty harsh on Jarit, who’s just out there racing wherever he can each week, but talk like that shows how testy things can be at Talladega … and this was just practice!

On the Waltrip issue, I am somewhat disturbed. I recognize the need for safety, especially after Edwards’ wild ride, but selectively choosing when bump-drafting is bad and when it’s OK will only fuel conspiracy theories. I and others are probably wondering why the penalty was given to someone bump-drafting the points leader, not someone bump-drafting Casey Mears for example.

Are they just out to protect their biggest stars? It certainly appears that could be a possibility.

The biggest problem with NASCAR’s argument is that bump-drafting was created by them when they made the drivers use restrictor plates and bunched them up so much. If NASCAR can’t come up with a different way to slow the cars down, they shouldn’t get mad when cars they forced so close together make a little contact.

#3 truck fails inspection

In a surprise ruling, the #3 truck that was supposed to be driven in Saturday’s truck race by Austin Dillon (Richard Childress’s grandson), failed inspection and didn’t race. It was too low, officials said, and did not meet the requirements.

That’s pretty amazing. The truck had a paint scheme reminiscent of Dale Earnhardt’s #3 car, and fans were looking forward to seeing it. Somebody must have screwed something up, but don’t worry. Dillon should be around for the long time, and that paint scheme will return.

In more positive Truck series new, the series will be using double-file restrats in 2010, and also return to allowing both tires and gas on a single pit stop. (I never really understood that rule anyway. It was just silly for them to all come down pit lane twice.)


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