Friday, January 29, 2010

Bump-Drafting Into the New Year

Welcome, NASCAR fans, to the final weekend without NASCAR racing. Even that is only half true because there are several NASCAR drivers competing in the 24 hour race at Daytona this weekend. With that said, Speedweeks will begin soon and before you know it there will be plenty of NASCAR action on one of the greatest tracks on the circuit.

Last week, NASCAR made their highly-anticipated announcements regarding rule changes for the upcoming season. There will be larger restrictor plates on the cars at Daytona, which will likely give the drivers better throttle response. However, the big change (and it was really only outlawed for one race) is that bump-drafting will once again be allowed.

This sets up an interesting situation once cars actually get on the track Thursday for Bud Shootout practice. Every year we hear drivers come in after the first couple of practices and complain about all the bump-drafting that is going on around the track. The drivers have complained for years about this issue, and then for one race NASCAR actually does something about it and everyone hates it even more.

A few examples:

Tony Stewart, speaking about bump-drafting before the 2006 Daytona 500; “Five years from now, we’re probably going to have to do another tribute to another driver because we’re probably going to kill somebody. It could be me. It could be Dale [Earnhardt] Jr. It could be anybody out there… We’re going to do what it takes to win the race. It needs to come from NASCAR.”

Carl Edwards, on bump-drafting after the 2009 Aaron’s 499 in which he sailed into the fence on the final lap, “We’ll race like this until we kill somebody; then NASCAR will change it.”

This type of talk has gone on for years, but once NASCAR did change it, the drivers were singing a much different tune.

“It’s kind of like the NFL going from tackle to two-hand touch,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr., after the Amp Energy 500 at Talladega last fall.

“It was just kind of a terrible race today in general,” said David Ragan, also following the fall race at Talladega.

So drivers begged for NASCAR to clamp down on bump-drafting and they did, but then everybody really had problems with what NASCAR had done. It looks as if NASCAR is in a no-win situation. You can bet at some point during Speedweeks 2010 there will be a driver stepping out of his car furious with all of the bump-drafting in the corners that is going on. That’s just how drivers are. However, I think most of us learned our lesson when we saw what would happen if NASCAR really did police bump-drafting.

Aside from all of that, I can’t help but be excited when Speedweeks is just around the corner. These two weeks are some of the best of the entire season. There will be large packs, fast speeds, big wrecks, and several surprises along the way. Each year there seems to be one small-time team that steps up and has a very good Speedweeks and maybe even a few decent weeks to follow before fading back. Those stories are what make this time of year the best of each NASCAR season.

However, before Speedweeks can begin, we need to know exactly how the field is set for the Great American Race. Enjoy the cartoon and have a great Speedweeks! The Monday Morning Crew Chief ratings will return the Tuesday following the Bud Shootout.


  1. Nice, JMayer.

    I haven't heard anyone mention how much better the front and back of the COTs match up for bump drafting than did the old cars. I still don't see how it's safer to allow ramming another car in the turns.

  2. Nice post Mayer. Bump drafting in the turns makes the racing even better. I didn't know quite a bit of the stuff in the cartoon... lol.

  3. Gene - Good point. Just wait until someone gets wrecked due to a shove in the corners. The complaints will return in an instant. Also, if NASCAR is going to head this direction, those safety measures brought into the sport over the last decade better work.

    gonger93 - Here's hoping for a great couple of weeks of competitive plate racing. Glad the toon helped. I enjoy it. lol

  4. Great video Mayer!

    So my issues isnt with the bump drafting. The drivers will figure it out among themselves hopefully before someone gets hurt. My issue was when NASCAR said they couldnt hook up 2 cars and draft...I loved watching 2 cars blast by the line so hoping that is what we see next week!

  5. ATHENS - Glad to hear it. Thanks!

    klvalus - Totally agree. I think the larger restrictor plate may also make the two car hookup easier.