One of the first things I noticed when I began watching NASCAR, was, what I deemed to be, incredibly reckless driving left unchecked. Carl Edwards' actions at Gateway this weekend demonstrated that there are some drivers believe that believe they have the right to lay down the law as they see fit when an on-track incident occurs that is not to their liking. It isn't the drivers job to decide when punishment is needed, or when someone needs to show more respect - that line is one of the most cowardly excuses for wrecking someone that I have ever heard. Bottom line is, drivers are there to drive, not be policemen.
Which is exactly what NASCAR needs. A sheriff. Or more to the point, a Driving Standards Observer. Someone who is appointed with the task of reviewing on track incidents and laying out penalties as is needed. This person would need to be someone with plenty of experience and a long history with the sport. Dale Jarrett or Terry Labonte are two names that spring to my mind as being individuals fit for the job.
So now we've got our DSO. But what do we want to achieve? The answer, is better and safer racing. We want to encourage hard racing and intense battles - but not avoidable wrecks. Going back to the Carl Edwards/Brad Keselowski incident at Gateway, the tap Brad gave Carl into turn 1 was perfectly acceptable. If Carl had've done the same in turn 3, that would have been perfectly fair and probably would have resulted in a good finish. Instead, because Carl knows that he can spin someone out and not receive a penalty, why would he try a small bump and run - a manoeuvre that wouldn't necessarily guarantee win - when he can just put the #22 in the fence and be done with it? However, when Carl is faced with a hefty penalty for reckless driving causing an incident - which would have seen him relegated to finishing as the last car on the lead lap - I think things could have gone a little differently. Especially because Carl is a repeat offender, which could see him facing an even bigger penalty as a result.
Now before we get carried away, having someone spin out after contact with another car will not result in an automatic penalty. We're going to use common sense here. Racing incidents are unavoidable and wrecks will happen due to hard racing. But that's fine. What we want to put a stop to is blatant on track stupidity. If a system like this were to be implemented, we could effectively kill two birds with one stone by removing the useless "yellow line" rule at superspeedways. If you go below the yellow line and cause an accident, you will probably end up with a pass through penalty, or something more severe.
Will this put an end to the incredibly dangerous and foolish acts that we dread to see? Probably not - but at least it might make them think twice.
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