NASCAR's latest rule change just has me shaking my head.
NASCAR announced a new set of rules earlier today. Drivers are no longer allowed to exit their cars after a wreck, until instructed to do so by track workers (unless there's an emergency of course). They can not stray from where they are supposed to go and the breaking of these rules will result in penalties. So basically, we can't expect these professionals not to get themselves run over unless we put a rule in place to ensure it?
With this, in my opinion, unnecessary new set of rules, the powers that be have ripped a bit of the essence straight out of the soul of this sport. On-track confrontations have been a part of racing before NASCAR even came into being.
Harsh words, I know. They are only doing this because they want to protect the drivers, which is admirable, but this was an overreaction. NASCAR Sprint Cup competitors are professionals, each driver has a number of eyes watching everything that's going on, the tracks are always brightly lit, and the chances of an incident similar to the one that claimed the life of Kevin Ward Jr. is slim to none.
Some of the greatest moments in NASCAR history have been the result of on-track confrontations. This unprecedented freak accident shouldn't spell the end of all that. Now that they have the rule, they must enforce it and considering how every single incident is usually far different from its predecessor, they've opted to give themselves one massive headache by opening Pandora's Box.
This doesn't cover everything...
I could go over all the possible scenarios, but there's no need to. By the way, did you know that one of the most dangerous situations in recent memory took place after a race and on pit road? This rule would not cover that. You may remember it...Kyle Busch vs. Kevin Harvick, Darlington 2011, Harvick throws a punch, Busch pushes the unmanned No. 29 car into a pit wall as people scramble. Now that's dangerous.
I also find it ironic that we're so concerned about a single driver somehow finding his way into oncoming traffic, but there's no concern over the hundreds of crew guys scrambling around 43 cars on pit road. Racing is an inherently risky sport and there's a point when you can cross a line, even with safety. It was crossed here. We should be able to expect that our drivers have the mental capacity to keep away from the other race cars. This new policy is an insult to their intelligence.
Setting an example?
I get that part of the reasoning behind this is to set an example for the up-and-coming racers across the country that watch NASCAR, but here's how I see it. There's a time when common sense comes into play and all those local track drivers have it, what some of them lack is maturity. I have no problem with regional series cracking down on people on the track and even encourage it to a point, but this deal isn't needed at the Cup level. It's needed in the lower divisions where there's a lot of young drivers who are still learning.
I get the rule and respect their reasons behind implementing it but it's really unnecessary, is going to be difficult to enforce, and will rob us of a lot of the emotional drama that we love to see during races.