Monday, November 14, 2011

NASCAR re-blurs line for aggressive-driving penalties

Just one week after NASCAR figuratively drew a line in the sand when it punished Kyle Busch, it quickly went back and erased that line when it let Brian Vickers walk free after Sunday’s race at Phoenix International Raceway.

Vickers pushed Matt Kenseth into the Turn 3 wall on lap 178, taking Kenseth out of the race after he took Kenseth out of the championship battle two weeks prior at Martinsville.

Regardless of previous incidents between these two drivers, Kenseth won the pole, had one of the five best cars in the field Sunday and had a very good chance to win the race.

But, Vickers made sure that didn’t happen, just as Busch ended both Ron Hornaday’s race at Texas and his chance at a championship when he ran Hornaday into the wall under caution during the truck race.

NASCAR brought the hammer down as hard as it ever has on Busch after his incident, but it did absolutely nothing to Vickers at Phoenix. It didn’t even park Vickers for a lap or two.

There is certainly precedent for penalties in that type of situation. Even Carl Edwards had to sit out the rest of the spring race at Atlanta in 2010 after he flipped Brad Keselowski, although Edwards didn’t receive any further penalties beyond probation.

What’s different in this situation? Well, the wreck happened under green-flag conditions. Busch did his damage after the caution came out, but the Edwards’ Keselowski wreck happened under green.

NASCAR has done a better job in recent years of staying out of driver feuds, but it may have missed one here. The wreck sure looked intentional even though Vickers denies it.

Maybe NASCAR shouldn't drop major penalties on Vickers as it did in Busch’s situation but this is twice in the last three weeks, and at least three times this season, counting the race at Sonoma when Vickers put Tony Stewart up on the tire barriers in Turn 11.

Plus, Vickers has raced with this type of aggressiveness for much of his career. Most people remember Vickers first win at Talladega in 2006 when he wrecked Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the last lap, but he also spun Mike Bliss coming to the finish line in the Sprint All-Star Challenge in 2005 to grab that win even though it doesn’t count in the record book.

While Busch might get a lot more publicity about his aggressive driving-style and ill-timed payback, Vickers has had his fair share of overly aggressive moments.

The drivers previous records aren’t that different, and all of the Edwards-Keselowski incidents have happened under green-flag conditions, so where exactly is that “know it when we see it” line that triggers penalties?

NASCAR has done well to put more of the police work in the drivers’ hands, but there has to be some consistency. The sanctioning body is dishing out these penalties like a bad home-plate umpire. An umpire might have an odd strike zone, but as long as it is consistent batters generally keep quiet.

Well, NASCAR has dealt with these three particular situations in three completely different ways. NASCAR has always ruled as a mostly benevolent dictator over the sport where everyone has to play by the rules as NASCAR decides them, but it would do the sport well if NASCAR would rule with more consistency.

That would not only help the credibility of the sport, but it would also prevent backlash from fans and others in the sport when these situations happen.

But, backlash means people are at least talking about the sport. We just spent an entire story devoted to the controversy these rulings create.

Maybe any news really is good news.


  1. So what if Kyle can't contain himself down the road and we find him in retaliation mode once again. Will nascar throw the book at him again? Probably... Anyone else? Nope...

  2. I believe nascar's business model is to NOT have any two situations ruled the same. They think controversy equals tv ratings and ticket sales.

    I can see them overlooking Edwards' actions for the most part, as he sells tickets.... but, Vickers?! He brings no asses to the seats!

  3. Nascrap is a freakin joke !!!

  4. Nascar is a complete joke. No matter how you try to spin your story what Edwards did was worse than what Busch did. Busch could have lost his ride and Edwards could be on the podium after winning the cup. It's just stupid. I think the WWF has more credibility than Nascar.

  5. It's not just NASCAR that is inconsistent. The media is just as biased, if not more so.

    Neither NASCAR or the media have much credibility left. And that's being kind.

  6. WHAT RULES????? all brain ,mike etc are dumb poops.

  7. "Harsh penalty?" Haha! Its a drop in the bucket compared to what these satanists did to Carl Long for a non-offense at the qualifying race for the Spit All Stat race at Charlotte several years ago. If there is any justice, K-Y should have been banned for life by comparisons

  8. I hadn't considered that inconsistent rulings might be done in the name of controversy but you may be onto something. That, or NASCAR doesn't have a clue and given what they've done over the past 10 plus years I'll go with "no clue". LOL.

    But, hey, it's still racing. The cream still rises to the top. So, I'll keep watching.