NASCAR announced new rules this morning regarding the practice of racing back to the yellow caution flag and entering pit road. Ford driver Mark Martin commented about the changes immediately following the meeting. MARK MARTIN - No. 6 Viagra ...
NASCAR announced new rules this morning regarding the practice of racing back to the yellow caution flag and entering pit road. Ford driver Mark Martin commented about the changes immediately following the meeting.
MARK MARTIN - No. 6 Viagra Taurus
"It's OK. This is gonna be different, but it's gonna be alright."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE FIRST CAR BEING A LAP DOWN BEING ABLE TO GET ITS LAP BACK? "It's too early to tell. I don't disagree with it yet. We'll have to try the formula and see how it works and then they'll adjust things if it needs to be adjusted. So far it seems to be well thought out."
IS IT A SHAME THAT IT'S GOTTEN TO THE POINT WHERE NASCAR HAD TO JUMP IN AND MAKE A RULE? "Yeah, it is because it's gonna create some other problems. It's gonna fix a lot of things, but it's gonna create a few new problems. It's a shame that this is gonna be less and less gentlemanly and honorable as we go forward. That kind of stuff has kind of brought this thing to a head and it's gonna continue to get worse. It even puts the guys who have a good honor system in a position where they can't afford to be as honorable and respectful. It's gonna become more and more dog-eat-dog as we go forward and it already has. It's dramatically changed in that direction the last year and it's gonna continue."
WHAT ABOUT THE PIT ROAD RULE? "There are no drawbacks to that. There won't be any backlash or drawbacks to that, but lapped cars and not racing back to the caution opens up a new set of problems. There aren't as many as we had with the other system, but it's gonna take some time to get this all sorted out."
DALE JARRETT - No. 88 UPS Taurus
WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO THE CAUTION RULE CHANGE? "It was obvious that something was gonna have to be put in place as a rule because agendas have changed for people. It seems that, whether it's right or wrong, and I'm not here to decide who is right and who is wrong, but because of the ways that mostly the newer generation has come in and taken the rules for what they are, there can't be any gray area. You have to define it out because they're gonna take it to that limit. Again, I'm not saying that's wrong, it's just the way that it is now so NASCAR was forced to do something. This wasn't simply because of last week's deal. This was something that's been happening for the last few years, so now we have a definite rule. I think the idea of giving that first car, no matter how many laps down he is a lap back, I don't know about that practice but it's something we can try. If it seems to be something that is not exactly right, then that's something they can change later. I understand what they're trying to do and that's appreciated, but it could create quite a bit of confusion so that's what they want to see. We have a nine-week trial period to kind of see how that goes and it'll be interesting. Cautions are gonna be a little longer at the beginning until everybody understands exactly what's going on, but, again, something had to be done."
WILL THIS MAKE IT HARDER FOR THE LEADER SPECIFICALLY TO ACTUALLY PUT A CAR A LAP DOWN? "I don't think there's any doubt that the leader is gonna have a more difficult time lapping cars and he's also gonna have a more difficult time on restarts because you realize, as we've all said, that cautions breed cautions. If on that restart you can get in front of the leader, you're gonna do whatever you can do. There's no more agreement like, 'Hey, if you give me that first corner and don't give me any hassle, I'll take care of you if the caution comes out.' You don't have that anymore. It's gonna be hard racing. It's gonna be exciting for the fans, I think, but, again, we're not putting drivers in situations where everybody is gonna be mad because somebody got a lap back and somebody didn't. I don't know where that ever started, but I think we've solved that problem. But, yes, you would have to think that lapping cars is gonna be more difficult now."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON PIT ROAD ENTRY? "I think it's a good idea. That is a place, and NASCAR has stressed this for a lot of years. Obviously, I'm very guilty, too, it's not a place to be racing. That's a place to come in and get our cars worked on. It's not a place to put those guys who are jumping out there to do their jobs in danger. Like I said I'm very guilty there, but I think we all need to step back and take a look at that. I think we've been very fortunate with my accident at Indianapolis and with Jeff's deal the other day that someone wasn't more seriously injured. This is very competitive racing and you want to try to get every edge you can, but that is just not the place. You'd hate to ever see it come to the point where NASCAR says, 'You all aren't capable of handling this on your own, so we'll go in the pits and come out the pits in the same place so the pit crews will be null and void.' You don't want to do that. You don't want to take that element away, so we've got to do our jobs and be smarter there to where we're not putting those guys in danger."
RICKY RUDD - No. 21 Motorcraft/Air Force Taurus
"There are many different reasons I guess you can try to come up with why it doesn't work. Mike Helton said it worked for fifty-some years, but you've basically got 40 cars that can almost win any given race and everybody is the same speed. The DJ thing last week sort of brought it to a boil and that wasn't even at the end of the race. My biggest concern has always been, what happens if you've got guys racing back - not only just to get laps back, but say you have 10 laps to go and the caution comes out with the leader in turn one. Maybe we're in a pack of 20 cars at Talladega that are on the lead lap, but you're in turn one when the caution comes out and the wreck is coming off of turn four. Whoever comes to the finish line first is gonna be the winner of that race because they're not gonna restart. That's always been the part that scared me. Fortunately, we've never had that situation develop, but the thing with DJ happened with 100 laps to go and everyone's mentality at this day and time is that it doesn't matter if it's the end of the race or not, they just go. I'm glad that they made the change. Obviously, the drivers were told it's a gentlemen's agreement. The pressures for guys to win today, I wouldn't say they're greater than they used to be, but I can't understand why it doesn't work now. I understand sort of, but everyone seems to be a little more greedier than they used to be."
IS IT FAIR? "I think it's fair. I like the rule. I think it's fair for everybody, but something I want to add to it is that it's also gonna accomplish something else that they needed to get a handle on and that is whoever is leading the race when the caution comes out, guys that are a lap down still feel like they're owed that lap back and it never used to be that way. They felt that they were owed that lap back and, it doesn't matter who is leading the race, when the caution comes out and that guy didn't let them have their lap back, now they're gonna go up and beat the fenders off the leader and that's not right. So it cleaned that up, too."