This season, there have been incidents on track and off that have pushed NASCAR to a new extreme when it comes to penalizing the drivers. No longer are they simply fining them, but NASCAR is now suspending the competitors who refuse to let a hit in the wallet effect their on-track style of racing.
"Rubbing is racing;" the way it has been and always will be. But where is the line drawn? Apparently, NASCAR is trying to make the line clearer. On Monday, NASCAR handed out their latest penalty to Richard Childress Racing driver Kevin Harvick, for yet another incident deemed "detrimental to the sport." Following the penalty, fellow competitors jumped on board saying it was the smartest, and safest thing to do.
Veteran Bill Elliott, driver for Evernham Motorsports, feels NASCAR needed to make their voices heard. "I just think it was probably NASCAR saying they've had enough. He kinda did it to himself. He knew the consequences and I think maybe Kevin failed to realize whenever you're on probation, it doesn't matter what series of NASCAR you're running in, it's across the board."
What do young drivers like Hendrick Motorsports' rookie Jimmie Johnson think of the penalty? "That's a big fine and a harsh punishment. Evidently NASCAR feels that they need to do something about the rough driving going on, on the racetrack. Kevin's been on probation from the Bristol Busch race and I guess you know it's going to continually be a stiffer and stiffer penalty in the wallet and what happens to you on the racetrack. That's a bad situation to be in. He's really going to have to watch himself throughout the season."
Driver of the Andy Petree owned No. 55, Bobby Hamilton, on the other hand, wasn't as kind in his assessment of Kevin Harvick. "In our sport, I'm a firm believer there's a racing God. What goes around comes around. If somebody does something to you intentional, NASCAR will take care of it if you'll let them take care of it. The worst thing you can do is retaliate on the racetrack at this point for two reasons: It's not good for the sport anymore. But than again, we're fighting a big safety issue here. They're working their tails off, and we've got these things a lot safer. We don't need to go through another year of what we just went through. And that could very well happen on a high speed racetrack."