New NASCAR rules on staying in car are necessary; Focus should be on safety, not entertainment
The famous helmet-throwing incidents of the past, and similar situations, would have to be addressed. After someone dies after getting out of their car, how can you not? (By the way, I'm not one of the folks who have been spouting off online that it was Kevin Ward Jr.'s fault that he got killed due to how he walked toward the traffic. That's crass. The reality is that this was a horrific accident that nobody wanted to happen).
Early Friday morning at MIS, the official reaction from NASCAR came with the Addendum to the NASCAR rule book in Section 16-9, regarding On-Track Procedure.
The sum of it is that if your car is stopped, unless there is fire in the car or another reason you have to leave the vehicle, you will keep all safety equipment connected until directed to leave the car by officials. And:
-- "At no time should a drier or crew member approach any portion of the racing surface or apron"
-- "At no time should a driver or crew member approach another moving vehicle"
These are common sense rule changes -- and pretty much were already the rules but were just being ignored -- and this could help prevent another tragedy. It was needed.
Drivers asked about the rule clarification were in support, not surprisingly since they're the ones whose safety is improving.
I think NASCAR does a really good job of looking at all the information and making the best decision they can make," Jeff Burton said. "I support the decision that they feel like it's what they need to do. It's pretty simple. I'm proud that they want safety to be on the forefront. That's what this rule is all about
David Ragan also weighed in:
“It’s a good decision on NASCAR’s behalf to be proactive. We are constantly reminded how our race cars can be dangerous. And if this is a step to make the driver safer after an accident or to prevent an accident from happening while getting out of the race car, this is a good move by NASCAR and I support it. I think it’s a move you’ll see from a lot of other series as well.”
I know we have to consider this stuff, but the very concept of the question makes me ill.
I watch NASCAR for the racing. I want to see drivers battle each other door to door, crews compete on pit road to see whose driver can get out first, and see exciting racing in general.
I don't want to see wrecks and don't look forward to them (though I know they are inevitable on some level).
And I damn sure don't need to see drivers throwing things at each other on track to enjoy watching the race.
If you do, I suggest you stop watching motorsports -- that is not what this is about.
NASCAR's Robin Pemberton summed it up well -- this isn't about entertainment; it's about safety.
"This will be a behavioral‑type thing and they'll be addressed according to each situation,"Pemberton said Friday, "This rule is really put in place for the safety of all of our competitors. It's safety first right now."
Honestly, the likelihood that a NASCAR driver would get killed on-track due to someone getting out of their car is pretty slim. But it's best not to take that chance at all.