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Thursday, May 12, 2011

“Have at it boys” policy means NASCAR couldn’t punish Harvick, Busch too harshly

NASCAR has itself in an interesting predicament right now.

On one hand, they have announced that the drivers should be free to express themselves when upset with each other, and are free to “have at it”.

On the other hand, they don’t want the drivers to go too crazy and end up hurting someone.

So the incident Saturday at Darlington between Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick puts them in an interesting position. In response to the drivers’ actions on pit road Saturday night , some “penalties” were handed out Tuesday.

Busch and Harvick have each been fined $25,000 and placed on probation for the next four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points events until June 15.

“These penalties are a result of what occurred on pit road after the race was over,” said Kerry Tharp, senior director for communications, competition. “They are about maintaining a safe environment on pit road.”

First of all, the money means nothing, as these Cup drivers are all millionaires now.

Second, the probations means nothing, as nothing ever comes of it. Despite calls for it by some fans at times, NASCAR pretty much never suspends a driver from future races. (I can only think of a couple examples in the past decade, and they were in relation to actions in Nationwide or Truck series races years ago.)

Third, I’m fine with this limited punishment scenario and don’t believe anything more should be done.
Let’s face it – Fans like to see excitement, and what’s more exciting that the series’ two most hotheaded drivers facing off both on and off the track? Of course, I prefer they keep it away from the other drivers on the track, but a little dustup after the race never bothered me at all. In fact, the biggest dustup ever – between Cale Yarborough and the Allisons after 1979’s Daytona 500 – helped raise the sport’s popularity among the masses of America.

There have to be limits of course, and anything that would endanger the well-being of any of the drivers needs to be addressed. Last year’s battles between Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski went a little too far, and since then the two of them have calmed down and gained more respect for each other on the track.

But for the most part, I agree with the “have at it boys” philosophy, and with that policy in place NASCAR has to accept that it won’t be able to punish drives severely just because they get into a little scuffle.

And I’m perfectly OK with that, and I’m pretty sure most fans are too.

Kenseth’s son wins ASA race

The next generation of future NASCAR drivers includes a lot of familiar names … including Bill Elliott’s son Chase, and Matt Kenseth’s son, Ross.

Ross Kenseth, driving a Ford just like dad, is only 17 but still managed to take the checkered flag in the American Speed Association season opener at Madison (Wisconsin) International Speedway. He also had an upgraded Roush Yates engine under the hood.

Ross has been racing in the ASA series since he was 15, and said the new engine helped him get the win.

"It feels awesome to get a win in the ASA," Ross said. "The tour is huge and there's a lot of talent out there. I could definitely feel a difference between last year's engine and this year with the changes and improvements Roush Yates offers. Last year the engine had great initial power but seemed to die off. This engine is much smoother on the gas and runs cooler. We can run more tape now. It's just better all the way around."

Congrats to Ross, and if he keeps this up, I hope to see him running in a NASCAR series before too long.

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