Saturday, February 14, 2009

NASCAR shows zero tolerance in Nationwide and Truck series races at Daytona, will this continue?

I’ve been watching NASCAR for over 17 years now, and in that time, I have seen a lot of things go down, amazing drivers retire, new drivers come into the sport, stock cars changing, racetracks come and go, attendance, tickets, and diecast prices highs and lows and more, however in my opinion one of the most talked about areas in NASCAR really has to do with both on-track and off-track calls made by NASCAR. NASCAR has not always made the best calls or consistent calls from the tower or the NASCAR hauler, one of the most classic examples has been the judgment calls on the yellow line rule at both Daytona and Talladega, did a driver push another driver below the yellow line or did a driver just go below the yellow line to advance their position, which isn’t allowed and the calls are mixed.

Another move with the inconsistent calls is on rough driving, the art of making pass cleanly, payback on track or off and more through all of NASCAR. As of the end of 2008 NASCAR season, NASCAR had made some classic calls that no one is going to forget, for example, in April 2008, NASCAR stripped #44 Peyton Sellers of his victory in the NASCAR East Series race at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, he was dropping to 30th place, along with suspending the crew chief for three races and probation until the end of the year (Read Here…) which I still believe is one of the stiffest penalties in recent years I can remember, staying with the East Series, Mike Olson was stripped of the 2005 Toyota All-Star Showdown victory, I do remember that race, Olson's right rear wheel was too big and don't weight the at least the min. weight.

Other penalties in NASCAR history were Rudd vs. Allison at Sonoma 1991, basically on the last lap Rudd following Allison into the final corner, a hairpin (turn 11) and Rudd spun Allison around from the center out and NASCAR decided to black flag him with a 2 second penalty and that put him second, another penalty, Dale Jarrett stripped of his Busch victory at Michigan, a couple hours after the race.

In 2007 and 2008, the infractions on COT in the Cup Series were getting bigger after each penalty, Dale Jr. at Darlington 2007 for rear wing brackets, Carl Edwards at Las Vegas in 2008 with an oil lid cover, same 100/100 point penalty, 100k for crew chief, plus a new one, 10 bonus points in the chase (Without that penalty, Carl would have been very close to Johnson for the championship in 2008) (Read More…), not to mention Charlotte Haas Racing two-car penalty, 150/150 and more, those only touch on a few of them that I can recall.

However, it seems that NASCAR might be changing the way they police the sport as the 2009 NASCAR season begins, first with the 2009 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Race at Irwindale, NASCAR stripped Joey Logano of his victory after a last lap, last corner dive bomb move on leader Peyton Sellers that put Sellers into the outside wall and was unable to finish, while Logano managed to save it and cross the line first, but the victory moments later went to 2nd place Matt Kobyluck. (Read more…) One note here, I had said in an earlier article that NASCAR didn’t stay consistent on their call moving Logano to last, my mistake, they did the same with Peyton Seller in 2008 above.

Now fast forward to yesterday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona, two yellow line calls right off the bat, first in the opening laps, Todd Bodine made a questionable pass on leader Colin Braun, received the black flag, no argument from Bodine on the radio, just asked what it was, pass through penalty, whatever happened to just give the spot back, he should have been told to fall back to 15th, Braun went back to 15th, a pass through, but several laps later, Terry Cook made somewhat of the same move on another driver, he received the black, pass through penalty for him too.

The Truck Series race ended up being a barn burner as most races at Daytona do with Kyle Busch trying to mount a last lap pass on leader Todd Bodine, only to get loss and Bodine would win his second straight Truck Series race at Daytona (Fourth-straight superspeedway victory), just one thing, no sponsor on the truck, that’s sad to see.

In the Nationwide series race, NASCAR made a great call in my opinion (see NASCAR, I can agree with your calls or say at least they are consistent when they are, plus can admit when I am wrong too), Steven Wallace racing down the back straightway moved up right in front of Jason Leffler (not touching him, at least that I could see), so Leffler moved down to pass and then came right up into the left rear of Steven Wallace, spinning him out and into the wall. The move was similar to one in one of my favorite movies Disney’s Cars Movie, early in the movie at the Speedway, Lightning McQueen moves past Chick Hicks off turn 2 down the back straightaway, then Hicks goes back to the inside, hits McQueen’s left rear, spinning him it the grass, however back to real life, Wallace was out of the race. Jason Leffler on the other hand would receive a five lap penalty, nice touch.

What a Nationwide Series race, same thing as the night before in the Truck Series race, Kyle Busch in second tries to mount a charge again leader Tony Stewart, pushing Stewart down the back straightaway into and through turns 3 & 4, getting Stewart loss, but Tony Stewart managed to save it and hold off Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer to win in the #80 Chevrolet, great finish.

As I sit here writing after the Nationwide Series race, I am beginning to think about tomorrow’s Daytona 500 with Martin Truex Jr. on pole and Mark Martin in second, Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman going to back up cars and starting in the back for the 500, and more… however the question is, will NASCAR continue to make these consistent calls from the tower? Only time or races will tell.

Tony Stewart (No. 80) takes the checkered flag ahead of Carl Edwards (No. 60) and Clint Bowyer (No. 29) on Saturday in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Camping World 300. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images via