Both Kyle Busch and Cole Pearn faced penalties for post-race comments over the weekend, and Busch was ultimately fined and placed on probation for not meeting postrace media obligations. Penalties were considered but not given when Busch accused NASCAR of fixing the NXS race on his team radio while Pearn took to Twitter to sling an insult at Joey Logano. Should team radios and social media be fair game for penalties?
Amy Henderson, Senior Editor: Radios and social media are two different things. For things said on the radio, NASCAR has penalized before and that’s fine—if someone intentionally wrecks someone or otherwise breaks a NASCAR rule and admits on the radio, that’s absolutely fair game. A lot of people were angry that Kevin Harvick wasn’t penalized after comments on the radio that some took to mean that he wrecked Trevor Bayne to bring out a caution in the closing laps at Talladega when freezing the field would have benefited his team whose engine was on its last legs. So if it’s fair to use radio for that, it’s fair to use it if any rule is broken, even one like this one that I disagree with; you can’t pick and choose. Twitter is another matter altogether, and should be off limits for penalties for things like Pearn’s insult slung in anger after a racing incident. If it’s used for something like conveying a threat, that’s different, of course, but for the most part, leave it alone; it’s too slippery a slope to navigate.
Sean Fesko, Staff Writer: Busch made disparaging remarks about NASCAR over a radio not meant to be in the public eye but during the course of a race. Pearn made disparaging remarks about a competitor on social media meant for the public eye but not during the course of a race (I think. The tweet was deleted so I didn’t see the time stamp). NASCAR would take more issue with Busch’s remarks as they criticized the sport, but it shouldn’t – that was a private conversation that just happened to be heard. As for Pearn? That’s outside of NASCAR’s jurisdiction. Let Joey Logano take care of it. He’s proven he can handle himself.
Mark Howell, Senior Writer: Social media communication is usually public communication, and I hear that NASCAR most likely will use its new good behavior policy to level punishments on drivers and team members who misuse such mediums and make accusatory or offensive comments. It’s not fair, but then consider what fans hear if they use a scanner. If it can be offensive and punishable in public, it should be treated the same way in cyberspace.
Clayton Caldwell, Contributor: Social media? No. Radio, it depends. It’s interesting because six years ago NASCAR said, “have at it, boys,” and part of that was because NASCAR fined Dale Earnhardt, Jr. for cursing on the radio and they wanted that passion again. Obviously that’s not the same situation here, but this fine by Busch is going to have drivers not show as much emotion on the radio, and I think that is something that is not good for the sport. It’s a double-edged sword.
Jason Schultz, Contributor: Team radios should be off-limits for penalties, but social media is fair game. When team members or drivers speak on the radio, it’s typically in the heat of the moment. They aren’t trying to be mindful of what they say and are typically reacting to something that just occurred. They should be allowed to express their emotions without fear of repercussions during the race. Social media isn’t always a heat of the moment reaction, and the driver or crew member typically has plenty of time to think before posting so if they do cross the line, it should be fair game for a penalty.
Kyle Busch was frustrated after the XFINITY race Saturday because NASCAR didn’t throw a caution when he blew a tire while leading on the final lap, ultimately handing the win to Austin Dillon. Should there have been a yellow flag?
Caldwell: In an era where we see caution flags for pieces of tape and water bottles on the apron, it’s hard to imagine that a caution wasn’t thrown there. Busch was the leader and there was no doubt he left debris on the racetrack, which means upward of 30 cars would have to pass that debris. If one car ran it over and wrecked, that’s one car too many for what? An exciting finish. I thought they made a poor call as far as driver’s safety is concerned.
Dustin Albino, Contributor: Because it was on the last lap and the leader blew a tire I think NASCAR made the right call. However, NASCAR needs to be more consistent. Driver safety is a premium and it needs to be the top priority, so I do see the other side of that in throwing a caution. Per the NASCAR rule book, if officials see a piece of debris, no matter what car it came from, the field is frozen, and as long as Busch made it back to the checkered flag at a steady pace he would have been declared the winner. I think if he had won that race on that tire, it would have gone down in the history book as one of the best last laps in the history of the sport. So much stuff happened in 45 seconds.
Phil Allaway, Newsletter Editor: I’m fine with what happened. I’m really unclear on if Busch wanted the yellow for debris prior to his blown tire or the yellow after he blew the tire. I didn’t see debris on track during the race prior to the blowout. Then again, I wasn’t driving in the race. Asking for it after the blowout comes off as a cheap way to try to gift himself a win. As if he needs another XFINITY Series win. I’d hope he would be above such tactics.
Schultz: On the final lap of any race, if a driver isn’t in need of immediate medical attention, there shouldn’t be a caution. After watching a race unfold for multiple hours, fans deserve a finish under green and if it’s feasible, NASCAR should allow the event to play out. Busch continued racing after blowing the tire, indicating that there wasn’t a need for a yellow flag. Letting the race finish under green produced one of the wildest XFINITY Series finishes in years, and NASCAR should be commended.
Michael Finley, Contributor: Yes, there should have been. NASCAR always talks so much about driver safety, but between this, the oil on the track at Michigan last year and the fact that there are still walls without SAFER barrier in the sport is really telling. I’m always going to err on the side of caution in situations such as this. How many cautions did we see on Sunday for guys blowing tires just like Busch did on Saturday?
Goodyear took heat from fans at Fontana when both the XFINITY and Cup races saw multiple tire failures during the races. Is it deserved, or were the teams responsible for their own fate?
Albino: I don’t think Goodyear is the one to put the blame on. We see this year after year in Fontana, tires get cut down. Some of that could be from how bumpy the racetrack is, but more so the low tire pressures that the teams set. From the television it is visible how low some of the teams are running their air pressures, and that’s not a Goodyear problem.
Fesko: I didn’t go out and measure tire pressures to see if Goodyear’s claim that it was the teams’ fault was true, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if that was the case. Gotta gain an advantage, so why not run an aggressive setup? If tires were blowing up every handful of laps (ahem… Indy ’08) then we could say it’s Goodyear’s fault. But they didn’t, so let’s put the blame where it’s due this week: the teams.
Howell: The new rules package is forcing teams to try some extreme setups in order to maintain speed as their tires drop off. Such setups mean making some heavy demands on air pressure. Remember we also tire problems from brake heat at Phoenix. Pushing the setup means risking tire failures, and that’s not Goodyear’s fault.
This weekend is the first off-week of the season and after a great start, fans will miss their racing. What’s the one can’t-miss racing video everyone must watch to get that racing fix?
Schultz: After two of the first five races produced two epic finishes, why not relieve some more photo finishes from over the years.
Finley: No video from me. Why? The weekend after Easter this year is just log-jammed with an incredible amount of racing. We have NASCAR Cup and Trucks at Martinsville, Formula E at Long Beach, IndyCar at Phoenix, MotoGP, BTCC, and Formula 1 at Bahrain. I’m fine taking a week off just for all of that.
Henderson: This compilation kept me laughing for almost the entire hour, interspersed with a few exclamations of, “Oh, I forgot about that!” It’s totally ridiculous!
Fesko: We’ve been treated to some crazy finishes this season, now how about one you may have missed from last year? The last lap of the Whelen Modified All-Star Race at Loudon last July. Drafting, dive-bombing, a three-way battle for the lead in the final corners – this is racing at its finest.
Howell: My go-to for a racing fix is the movie Senna. The story is powerful and the racing footage is great. My backup film is LeMans. Another movie featuring an inside seat to incredible action. These ain’t NASCAR, but they’re good fill-ins until we get to Martinsville.
Caldwell: I always go to YouTube and watch old races. It’s cool to see how much the racing has changed and how much it’s all stayed the same. It’s a great education too; while I remember watching this race as a kid, the brings back legendary names and figures. Just a great blast from the past. Here’s the 1995 Pontiac Excitment 400 from Richmond:
Albino: Through five races this season we’ve seen two of the closest finishes in the history of NASCAR, but do you remember this one from 2011? Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. was about to win the race as he blew an engine coming off of turn 4 in Iowa, causing teammate Carl Edwards to slam into the back of him, Stenhouse was victorious.
Allaway: This is the last 73 minutes of this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. It includes hard fighting for the class victories, a successful bump ‘n’ run, Pipo Derani embarrassing everyone and Corvette on Corvette action. It was great to cover live and excellent to watch again and again.
About the author
Amy is an 20-year veteran NASCAR writer and a six-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) writing award winner, including first place awards for both columns and race coverage. As well as serving as Photo Editor, Amy writes The Big 6 (Mondays) after every NASCAR Cup Series race. She can also be found working on her bi-weekly columns Holding A Pretty Wheel (Tuesdays) and Only Yesterday (Wednesdays). A New Hampshire native whose heart is in North Carolina, Amy’s work credits have extended everywhere from driver Kenny Wallace’s website to Athlon Sports. She can also be heard weekly as a panelist on the Hard Left Turn podcast that can be found on AccessWDUN.com's Around the Track page.
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