Race Weekend Central

Mirror Driving: Daytona Disappointment, Yellow Line Disgust, & is Kenseth a Hall of Famer?

Welcome to Mirror Driving. Every week, your favorite columnists sit down and give their opinion about the latest NASCAR news and rumors. Love us or hate us, make a comment below and tell us how you feel about what we’ve said!

This Week’s Participants:
Tom Bowles (Editor-In-Chief; Mondays/Bowles-Eye View & Wednesdays/Did You Notice?)
Vito Pugliese (Wednesdays/Voice of Vito)
Beth Lunkenheimer (Tuesdays/Running Your Mouth & Various/Frontstretch Truck Series Reporter)
Mike Neff (Wednesdays/Power Rankings & Wednesdays/Full Throttle)
Jeff Meyer (Wednesdays/Top 10 & Thursdays/Voices From the Heartland)
Bryan Davis Keith (Thursdays/Picks ‘N’ Pans & Sundays/Nationwide Series Breakdown)
Amy Henderson (Fridays/Holding a Pretty Wheel)
Kurt Allen Smith (Fridays/Happy Hour)

The Daytona 500 had several controversial moments, but the biggest was the race being shortened by over 100 miles due to rain. Did NASCAR do the right thing by starting at the scheduled time, or should the green flag have been moved up so that the entire race could be run?

Mike: “Hey, fans: the first five innings of the seventh game of the World Series ran too long. We’re going to call it now.”
Tom: I think there’s a big issue with the green flag starting at 3:45 p.m. As for the race getting restarted, the rain was… rain, guys. You couldn’t do much about it. I was there, and there was no way they were getting the track dry once it started.
Amy: NASCAR should start all east coast Sunday races at 1:00 ET. Period. This year’s 500 just underscored the need for it.
Vito: I agree with Tom that the race needs to start before 4:00 p.m. If you live on the west coast, invest in an alarm clock and get up an hour early.
Kurt: Push up the green flag? And possibly preempt the cartoon Digger segment?!
Bryan: NASCAR could not have realistically pushed the start time up. It wouldn’t have been fair to the fans at the track. That said, it never should have scheduled the race for 3:30 in the afternoon in the first place.
Jeff: Once it is announced, it is a contract and they can’t start it much earlier. Later, yes; not earlier, as stated on the ticket.
Kurt: But the start time makes zero sense. If NASCAR wants a night race, run the dang thing on Saturday.
Beth: I think I make it unanimous when I say that the start time was way too late to begin with.
Tom: I just don’t understand the 3:45 p.m. stuff, because you don’t necessarily finish in primetime. Instead, you’re interfering with Sunday dinner. Either do it on Sunday night like the Super Bowl or start it at 1:00 p.m. End of story! What is the difference between 1:00 and 3:45?
Bryan: They need to have an earlier start time and they need to have a better plan for rain. The 500 is a race that has to be run the distance.
Vito: Should the Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing – and arguably all of motorsports – be given more than 15 minutes before it is called off? What if during the Super Bowl the NFL pulled the plug halfway through the third quarter because it got foggy?
Beth: Vito, if you looked at the radar, that rain wasn’t going to end any time soon.
Kurt: Yes, Beth; but we waited until 2:00 a.m. to try and get the California race in last year, and we wait, what, 16 minutes to call the DAYTONA 500?
Beth: The debacle in California is exactly why they pulled the plug so quickly. Either way, NASCAR loses.
Tom: You know, the weather rule is one of the few things NASCAR is consistent about. Heck, I remember Michael Waltrip winning in 2003. NASCAR stopped it shortly after lap 100 – and I don’t remember as many complaints as this time, when it was very clear they wouldn’t restart until midnight.
Vito: That was a really bad call in 2003, too. I guess they didn’t notice those big things on poles that blind you when you look at them. It’s the Daytona 500! How many times has the World Series ran late or an almighty NFL game? We were setting up for a whale of a finish, but instead, the guy who happened to be out front when it got wet is the winner.
Beth: I would definitely have been happier to see it to the end of 500 miles, but NASCAR really didn’t have a choice.
Mike: I don’t care what NASCAR’s rule is. This is the 500, and you need to run it to its completion. Finish it on Monday, Tuesday, whenever. They should never call this race short. I don’t care if the rain was going to end at 2:00 a.m. It’s the freaking Daytona 500. That was horse pucky.
Amy: I agree with Mike: there were 120 miles left, run them on Monday.
Tom: OK, so if NASCAR doesn’t call this race short, suddenly it’s inconsistent, and then we’re yelling about inconsistency. I just don’t see the argument about the rain-shortened race. Here’s the problem right now: We’re painting NASCAR in a box where they never win – and that’s a little concerning, too – because if NASCAR is never allowed to win, of course it’s going to fail.
Amy: See, I don’t think making concessions for Daytona is inconsistent because the Daytona 500 has its own rules for everything else already.
Tom: It’s inconsistent because three drivers have won that race due to rain-shortened events in the past, Amy. That’s how NASCAR’s always done it.
Amy: NASCAR always ran races at 1:00, too, Tom. If it had stayed consistent on that, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
Jeff: Rim shot for Amy!
Bryan: All I know is NASCAR lost big by calling this race. The number of columns I read about this race having lost significance or legitimacy was concerning.
Vito: It’s one more thing that people who are new to the sport (or have been around for 30 years) get turned off by: pulling the plug for convenience’s sake.
Mike: And if NASCAR came out and said it was going to make an exception because this is the biggest race of the year, the only people mad would have been Matt Kenseth fans.
Amy: I don’t know, Mike. I’ve heard the five of them are pretty ruthless.
Vito: I know there are other forces at work here; getting to California on time, making sure there aren’t 100,000 drunks on the road at midnight, traffic issues, etc. If that is the case, finish it up on Monday when there was a 0% chance of rain. The sport was deprived of what was going to be an awesome finish.
Tom: Here’s what I think is part of the problem – I think people are mad because Elliott Sadler and Reed Sorenson randomly showed up in front because of that lucky caution and they never had a chance to get shuffled back in the pack because of the rain. Can you imagine the criticism if Sadler had won? Damn, that would have been insane. But the bottom line is, that’s how the ball bounced under the rules. I’m just pissed we don’t start the race at 1:00 p.m., because then we’re not painted into a box with this thing.
Mike: That is the true problem.
Bryan: If NASCAR actually had a rain plan instead of praying for it to hold off, we’d never have had this issue.
Kurt: Every week, the race starts at 3:30 and I don’t eat dinner until 9:00. NASCAR is responsible for my indigestion when I go to bed!
Vito: Maybe if we worry about the racing more than the pre-race show, we’d get 500 miles in.
Jeff: Bingo.
Beth: You hit the nail on the head, Vito.
Bryan: This 500 killed all the momentum that had been built from Speedweeks. The fans lost and NASCAR lost big.
Mike: Bottom line, Brian France is a greedy SOB who wants maximum TV revenue dollars, and he chose to start the race too late to be able to do anything if there was a rain delay after the midway point.
Bryan: NASCAR would do well to learn from this mistake.
Vito: This Daytona 500 has been a microcosm of everything that is wrong with NASCAR today even before now. From qualifying to the race itself to calling it after 15 minutes – it’s more about style, less about substance, and in the end everybody is worse off for it.
Kurt: My question is, when is NASCAR going to give up on the west coast? When it runs races in California and Phoenix, only then can we go with later start times.
Amy: West coast races should start at 3:00 ET. No excuses. Later than that is a night race and should be run on Saturday. No offense to west coast fans who go to church or something, but do they not have DVRs in California?
Jeff: The time change between the coasts is BS, anyway. Most people DVR or otherwise record the race to get rid of the extra BS. It is the electronic age now.
Mike: And one last thing: I want to see Martin Truex Jr. go to Bass Pro Shops, buy a 30-.06, and blow Digger’s fool head off.
Vito: “Licensed to kill Gophers. By the government of the United Nations …”

It was another weekend of questionable out-of-bounds calls and non-calls in Daytona. The “yellow-line rule” was created for safety, with NASCAR making it a double line this year. However, is it time to ditch it and let drivers reap what they sow?

Amy: NASCAR has never – not one time – made a correct call on the rule. It needs to go.
Mike: While they do need to work on enforcing it a little, they have to have it – or we’ll have far more Big Ones.
Bryan: Ditch it. The rule caused more incidents than it prevented. Just ask Mike Bliss, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brian Vickers.
Vito: Double Yellow Line – about as reliable as “Double Secret Probation.”
Kurt: I disagree – the yellow-line rule is fine. They just need to be consistent in enforcing it.
Bryan: For the record, the yellow line was never enforced consistently this weekend. JR Fitzpatrick got away with the same move that Todd Bodine got penalized for.
Amy: Did anyone else think Bodine got screwed on Friday? The replay sure looked like he was above the line before his nose got in front of the other truck.
Bryan: Both of the penalties from Friday were a joke.
Vito: You can’t go below the yellow line unless you can see the checkered flag. What a stupid statement. Regan Smith did that and he got jobbed out of a win.
Tom: You know, I was watching a ton of classic Daytona 500s in the offseason for an article I was working on – and do you know how many passes for the win happened below the yellow line? Think about it. The Yarborough-Allison pass in ‘79 would have been disallowed because of the yellow-line rule, as would the Jeff Gordon win in ’99. Considering the Big One happens whether the damned thing’s there or not, I say let it go.
Vito: Don’t these things police themselves? The only yellow line-inspired wreck I really remember seeing was when Kenny Irwin tagged Dale Jarrett at Daytona in 1999.
Jeff: The problem was they went below the line to pass and then tried to come back up entering the turns. That is what caused the wrecks in the past.
Amy: Here’s my take: If the rule is designed to keep guys from causing wrecks when they get off the apron in traffic, how about you penalize them when they actually do just that? Otherwise, let them race.
Kurt: The problem is that going below the yellow line causes a car to lose control.
Bryan: Yeah, but drivers aren’t going to make a move on the apron, Kurt; it’s not a competitive place to be. As for going low on the straightaways, who cares?
Amy: I think they should have a flat fine of $20,000 per car involved in a wreck you create. Cause a 20-car melee, and that’s $400 grand you owe.
Kurt: Maybe they could just put a SAFER barrier there instead of the yellow line. That’ll put a stop to it.
Mike: I’m with you, Kurt. Put up a SAFER barrier and I’m all for it. The other option is to make it grass. If they make it grass – or dirt, as it is on the backstretch at Daytona – it’ll keep them from going down there.
Tom: Here’s another thing: the yellow line confines drivers to such a narrow box that I think blocking has really come into play. Because everyone knows about that yellow line, so they just use it to keep you behind them.
Bryan: David Ragan in the Nationwide Series race drove like it was a wall, and as a result Bliss darned near almost took out the whole field because of a momentary lapse. Unsafe if I ever heard it.
Tom: Hey, how about this for a solution: How about you let the drivers race?
Bryan: We can’t have that, Tom.
Tom: Here’s the issue: NASCAR has taken the word “safety” and turned it into “lack of aggression.” They’re making all these rules like they’ve got some sort of tail caught between their legs.
Amy: This really is a safety thing though, Tom. 25-car pileups at 200 mph… people get hurt.
Bryan: The yellow-line rule causes more unsafe incidents than it prevents.
Vito: Let’s see, you can’t go below the yellow line, so you end up spinning a guy who’s coming down to block. You can’t go below the yellow line to execute a pass, but at 200 mph, you’re supposed to be able to just slam on the brakes and jerk it back into line. Oh, OK. What could possibly go wrong?
Tom: I just think that at some point, NASCAR needs to loosen the reins a little and let the drivers drive, because that’s what puts fans in the stands. NASCAR needs to put the risk back in the drivers’ hands.
Amy: Right, Tom. Let them race where they want, with the understanding that if they choose to race down there on a plate track and cause a wreck doing it, they will pay for it.
Jeff: Bottom line is, it doesn’t matter what Amy and Tom decide – we can talk all night and it ain’t never gonna change NASCAR’s mind.
Kurt: It might be better if NASCAR just picked a rule and stuck with it. The danged rule changes every plate race, I’ll bet a lot of guys get confused. They’re not all Mensa candidates out there.
Vito: Restrictor-plate racing is like gun control: They just keep making new rules and it doesn’t solve anything. There were just as many wrecks when there were no rules. If restrictor plates are outlawed, only outlaws will have restrictor plates.
Kurt: I would never vote for a man who’d take my restrictor plate away.
Jeff: Well, the sport is inherently unsafe. The yellow-line rule should be abolished.
Bryan: Bump-drafting in the corners is dangerous, but no need for aggressive rules to combat it. Let the drivers police themselves. Trying to wall in a racetrack like the yellow-line rule does make Daytona a more dangerous race than it would be without it. NASCAR is not in a place where they need to make split-second calls – they just need to stop making calls. It’s a race, so get out of its way.
Kurt: Make the yellow line squiggly. That’ll really mess ’em up!
Amy: How about spike strips?
Vito: How about ramps?
Jeff: Or how about telling the drivers that they can pass down there – and they won’t!

Kenseth’s 500 win was his first major victory to go along with his 2003 Cup Series title. Does this make him a future NASCAR “Hall of Famer,” or someone that has yet to live up to his future potential?

Kurt: Has yet to live up to his potential? Huh? He’s easily a Hall of Famer.
Beth: He has a championship and a 500 win. Looks to me like he’s lived up to his potential.
Bryan: He won a legit Cup under the old points structure and won the Daytona 500. Hmmm….
Vito: I think Matt already is a Hall of Famer by winning Rookie of the Year – and a real Winston Cup champion.
Mike: Really? In my opinion, he has a way to go before he’s a Hall of Fame driver. He’s been good. He’s a champion. But not every champion is a Hall of Famer.
Amy: I disagree too, unless winning a title automatically puts you in the Hall. He has a 500 win under dubious circumstances.
Jeff: I ain’t been overly impressed with him.
Bryan: Um, Kenseth went from 43rd to the top 10 in like 30 laps Sunday. The No. 17 was one of the three best cars in the field.
Tom: Agreed, Bryan. I was happy for Matt, too, because back in 2006, I think he got robbed of the win when Tony Stewart decided to pull one of his tantrums in the middle of the race. I think he might have had the best car that day. Where I have issues with Kenseth is his inability to lead at Roush after Mark Martin left in ’07. Instead, he ended up openly fighting with Carl Edwards and – at times last year – Ragan.
Kurt: That wasn’t Kenseth’s fault, Tom. Edwards has his moments. As far as the Hall of Fame, if there are three criteria, they should be: winning at least 20 races, winning a championship, and having a cool paint job. Kenseth’s almost in.
Amy: If he wins another title or two, then yeah. But right now, saying he’s Hall caliber is saying he’s on a level with Stewart, Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, and Kenseth’s numbers don’t support that.
Tom: Well, I will say this: Kenseth lost his mentor in Martin, then Robbie Reiser – and struggled after that. I think you take that under consideration somewhat, that he had some problems “on his own” for awhile.
Jeff: Kenseth has been a disappointment career-wise, in my book.
Kurt: Why would people be down on Kenseth’s career? Gordon and Stewart haven’t made every Chase so far.
Tom: That’s a good point, Kurt. And I shouldn’t be too critical without mentioning I think Kenseth’s in the Hall. I just had higher expectations that he’d be Johnson’s major challenger during this entire three-year stretch, not Edwards.
Vito: Matt has 17 wins, Carl already has 16.
Jeff: What has Kenseth done since he won the title anyways? And even then, he won by just being more consistent than Ryan Newman.
Kurt: Well, he made all five Chases, Jeff. Not that that’s necessarily a Hall of Fame-worthy achievement, but he’s been good.
Jeff: The Chase is BS and everyone knows it, Kurt.
Amy: Kenseth has 17 wins in 12 years. That’s one less than Junior. Stewart came in one year earlier and has double the wins. Johnson came in two years later and has more than double the wins!
Vito: So, under this criteria does Martin miss the Hall of Fame because he has (technically) no titles (for now) or Daytona 500 (not 505) wins?
Amy: No, Vito; he has a lot more wins than Kenseth.
Kurt: Martin is Hall of Fame worthy, I think.
Mike: You don’t want me to answer that, do you Vito? Martin is borderline Hall of Fame – but it’s because of his Busch Series success, not his Cup success.
Vito: 35 race wins and four runner-up finishes in the points?
Kurt: Four-time runner-up is pretty good, Mike, even if he never took the big prize.
Tom: Oh my God, Mike, how could you leave Martin out of the Hall of Fame? His record speaks for itself! He could easily have two titles right now.
Vito: He won one in 1990 only to have it ripped from him by GM and Bill France. In 2007, he won the Daytona 500; a last-second rules change prohibited him from taking home the trophy.
Mike: But officially, he has no titles. No 500 wins. And he drove for a long time to acquire all of his wins. It’s not a slam dunk candidacy; I think Kenseth and Martin are about the same level when it comes to the Hall of Fame.
Jeff: I disagree with that, Mike.
Vito: As do I. But we already knew that.
Tom: A key thing here is Martin has tangibly made an impact on every team he’s been a part of. For example, look at the development of Ginn Racing when he got there. What I’m saying about Kenseth – and I hate to harp on it – but I don’t think he’s a leader in the same way.
Kurt: How much is being a leader worth in driver evaluation though, Tom? It’s not as though Roush has been running that bad.
Vito: And who really exudes leadership? Stewart? For what, kicking recorders under semi-trailers and yelling about tire companies, only to take it back two days later because he’s told to?
Bryan: I would agree with Mike there. Say what you will about leadership, Kenseth has accomplished more in his career than Martin has.
Amy: I can see Martin getting in on an equivalent to the old-timers’ ballot at Cooperstown.
Vito: Does Terry Labonte get in?
Kurt: Absolutely, Vito. Two titles? Hell yeah. Last Southern 500 winner, too, wasn’t he?
Mike: I think anyone with two titles is in.
Vito: He only has 22 wins in 32 years, but has two titles.
Bryan: Terry should get in, but I’ve lost a lot of respect for him whoring himself out in recent years to crappy teams.
Jeff: Oh, piss on that whore stuff! You’d do the same thing if you were a semi-retired racer. And demeanor and class have a lot to do with induction, too. If not, you need lots of wins.
Kurt: Back to the question at hand; Kenseth would have my vote without a Daytona 500 win.
Bryan: Kenseth has an All-Star win, a Daytona 500 and a legit Cup title. What’s missing on that resume?
Amy: At least 30 wins is missing, Bryan.
Bryan: If he sticks around as long as Martin has, he’ll have them, Amy.
Tom: He might get them sooner rather than later. As we talked about a few weeks ago, I think Kenseth and Blickensderfer could make a killer combination.
Bryan: Kenseth and Blick are going to be a tough combo to beat. That’s a real darkhorse contender right there.
Vito: It’s irrelevant in the long run, though. So what if Kenseth has a breakout season this year and wins eight? Does that make him suddenly HoF material? He’s already got the hardware – a real Winston Cup. That’s good enough for anybody.
Kurt: Kenseth inspired a ridiculous playoff. He deserves induction for that alone.
Amy: That should get him a special spot, alright. But he won it on only one win.
Kurt: It’s a heck of a lot easier to win a title with no wins now.
Bryan: Ironic, isn’t it Kurt?
Amy: I’m not arguing that the Chase is a good thing; but Chase or no, you need either multiple titles or way more wins than 17 to be Hall of Fame-caliber.
Vito: Daytona 500 and a 2003 Cup is good enough for this guy. So, does Davey Allison make it?
Mike: No.
Vito: What about Alan Kulwicki? He had what, five wins?
Kurt: I think one title ought to be enough to put him on the ballot.
Bryan: Kenseth will have 25-30 wins by the time he’s done; he’s in. And Kulwicki darned well better get in.
Mike: Kulwicki might eventually, but I doubt it.
Vito: So if you’re involved in an air travel accident, you don’t make the Hall of Fame? Damn. Next question.

The Nationwide Series race featured a penalty to Jason Leffler for rough driving when Leffler got into Steve Wallace, causing a multi-car incident. But there was no call against Earnhardt Jr. in the Daytona 500 when he slammed into Vickers the next day. So, which time was NASCAR right – or were they wrong on both counts?

Vito: They were right making the call on Leffler. He was not letting anyone into line by turning right.
Jeff: No way. Leffler’s call was screwed up! Both times, it was just a racing deal.
Bryan: NASCAR’s problem was being way, way, way too aggressive in officiating the Nationwide race.
Kurt: It’s hard to look at the Nationwide video and not think what Leffler did wasn’t intentional, Bryan.
Bryan: I disagree. They were way off-base on Leffler. There is no way to tell if Leffler didn’t just screw up big.
Vito: Um, why else do you clip a guy going into turn 3? I know Leffler can barely see over the wheel but that was uncalled for. Come on man, it’s a superspeedway.
Tom: I was undecided on Leffler. At first, I was all for it, but then when I took a step back….
Amy: I have mixed feelings on this, actually. I think that the NNS is still a development series (sort of) and NASCAR has to be a little more careful over there. But, I think Earnhardt wrecking Vickers was more blatant than Leffler running into Wallace.
Kurt: This really looks bad, too, because Leffler is a relative unknown while Junior is already considered NASCAR’s pet.
Vito: Junior, I think they could have penalized him and been justified, but Vickers made a real stupid move blocking a car going five mph faster than him.
Beth: Junior flat out dumped Vickers. That’s gotta be deserving of some sort of penalty.
Mike: Junior didn’t slam into him, but he did deserve to be penalized. It’s racing at 180 mph. You can’t just dump a guy, let alone in front of the whole pack.
Kurt: NASCAR was wrong the second they went wobbly on Junior. The problem was lack of consistency, not whether either driver broke a rule. Especially when you look at both videos – the dumps are almost identical.
Tom: Frankly, I don’t think either of them should have been penalized. It’s racing.
Bryan: If the drivers were left to police themselves, we wouldn’t have this problem. It’s racing. Dump who you want – just be ready to deal with it.
Vito: Here is my position: If you think that Junior is skilled enough to just nick a guy with his bumper and send him spinning, then how can he not see a huge magenta No. 88, waved by guys who have the same uniform on as he does? Or have the depth perception to park his car in his pit stall?
Mike: The one thing that everyone needs to remember was Talladega a couple of years ago. Vickers spun out a couple of guys for that win and one of them spun him Sunday night. Drivers have long memories.
Bryan: That, and Vickers throwing a block way too late.
Kurt: Junior, at worst, was responsible for taking out Vickers. It was a horsepower-sapping restrictor plate that put Vickers in the path of 30 cars.

See also
Side by Side: Who Got the Better Deal - Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Kyle Busch?

Tom: The thing that bothers me about the Earnhardt thing is he was wayyy too aggressive on the restart. At least the Leffler maneuver, it was in the middle of a long green-flag run. But for Junior… half a lap under green on a restart, do you really need to make an aggressive move like that to be a Lucky Dog before you’re even up to speed?
Beth: You have a point, Tom. There was no reason to be racing that hard right after the green flew.
Jeff: The lapped cars shouldn’t be there in the first place on a restart. If NASCAR started the lapped cars in the back, we wouldn’t be talking about this.
Vito: That’s a separate issue, Jeff. But rain was coming and it’s the Daytona 500. He’s a lap down, and even though the rule is a rule… one lap for having the “Goodyear” on the sidewall of your tires on the line…. let’s just say Vickers won’t block like that again.
Kurt: Vickers isn’t entirely blameless, but Junior could see what he was doing. It’s just like a fender-bender on the street – the guy behind is to blame because he can see.
Bryan: Vickers moved down so freaking late, I’m surprised Junior even had time to move below the yellow line.
Vito: Vickers seems to make poor judgments on big tracks in a pack; look at Talladega in 2006. They need to post a sign on the backstretch: SLOW TRAFFIC, KEEP RIGHT.
Kurt: But Junior could have lifted. I guess that’s easy to say sitting at a keyboard, but he is a professional.
Bryan: Junior was racing for a Lucky Dog with rain looming. He absolutely had every right to be aggressive.
Amy: He had every right to be aggressive – but he was being stupid. Last time I checked, Vickers threw a legal block.
Vito: Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean that it’s smart or you have to do it. He pulled a Stewart move from 2006. This time, the aggressor got it handed back to him. It’s just too bad that Kyle Busch and others were involved.
Mike: Honestly, Junior should have held his line initially and let Vickers spin himself. If the yellow line was a wall, Vickers hits it head on spinning off the front of Junior’s car.
Vito: Things happen pretty fast at 180 mph. If Junior was trying to spin him into the grass, then I don’t have a problem with it. That was a dangerous and poor decision by Vickers. I don’t think Junior anticipated him over-correcting back into traffic.
Bryan: He pulled a legal block, Amy, but he cut off a driver with a run. Get dumped in that situation and you get what you had coming.
Amy: But Junior had the option to back off and he chose to wreck nine cars instead.
Bryan: Junior didn’t wreck nine cars, Vickers did.
Vito: He was trying to get back in line. Why should the faster car overtaking a slow one have to yield? Isn’t that counterintuitive to racing? The more I watch it and work through this, Vickers is the instigator.
Kurt: Blocking happens all the time, though. Did Junior expect him not to?
Amy: And if you’re faster, it’s fine to just run over the guy in front of you? If you’re that much faster, pass him clean.
Beth: Exactly, Amy. Had he just waited until they were up to speed, he would have made the pass cleanly, and we wouldn’t even be talking about it.
Tom: Right. I think the key to this whole thing is we were building speed on a restart. This isn’t California, this is the draft at Daytona. Junior knows how this thing works. He could have easily backed off and been in Lucky Dog position in another lap. So, Vickers blocked him. There were about 20 drivers blocking on that restart.
Mike: But Junior didn’t expect him to come down when he had a fender on him already.
Vito: And if you’re slower, you don’t swerve across three lanes of traffic to cut off a guy who very well might run into you. Sadler didn’t swerve at Kenseth at the end of the race and that ultimately was for the WIN! You don’t swerve and cut off guys at plate tracks.
Jeff: Why don’t we talk about what needs to be done so it doesn’t happen again. With the Lucky Dog nowadays, there is no reason to start lapped cars in front. They did that way back when so they had a chance to get the lap back before the Lucky Dog.
Bryan: Get rid of the yellow line and this is a non-issue.
Kurt: Get rid of the restrictor plate and this is a non-issue.
Amy: There’s an easy fix here – restarts double file, leaders only, lapped cars in the back. Just like local tracks everywhere.
Tom: See, I still think lapped cars should start side-by-side. I think it makes the racing damn exciting. But sometimes stupid mistakes get made.
Amy: Sometimes? It’s almost always a lapped car racing where he has no business to, causing wrecks on restarts
Jeff: Lapped cars have no business starting up there. If that is your argument Tom, then it could be said you just like the crashes.
Amy: You’re a lap down for a reason. Stay in back, then race the other lappers for the Lucky Dog without taking out the leaders. It has worked for years at almost every short track in the country.
Tom: I think you need to give the guys a lap down an opportunity to get their lap back. So, if the leader blows a tire at Bristol and loses two laps – he should be done just like that? With what you’re proposing, you’d start him in the back and not give him a chance. I just don’t agree with that.
Jeff: Like a lapped car is ever gonna run way ahead of the leaders and get it back.
Mike: I seem to remember Kyle Busch getting several laps back in a race last year. I also remember Jarrett nearly winning the Brickyard thanks to starting on the inside multiple times and getting his lap back.
Vito: Look – no need to rewrite the racing rules that have worked so well for so long. How about a little common sense, something that is conspicuously missing from NASCAR: If you’re slow and getting passed on the backstretch at a superspeedway, don’t swerve across three lanes of traffic to block the guy passing you.

OK, predictions for California?

Kurt: Everyone will hate it.
Jeff: Boring, lots of seats left.
Amy: I’ll get a great nap. Johnson wins, but nobody is awake to see it.
Mike: Kyle Busch. And 30,000 people will be there.
Beth: Kyle Busch.
Bryan: Kenseth goes 2 for 2.
Kurt: Edwards.
Vito: Edwards.
Jeff: I go with Carl, too.
Tom: I think I’m going to go with Kyle Busch.
Mike: Hey, don’t be surprised to see Martin get a top five, either.
Vito: Will that be enough to get him into the Hall of Fame, Mike?
Mike: Nope.

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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