Darlington field filler bites Gordon

NASCAR has been criticized in recent weeks for recruiting field-fillers, or part-time drivers, to fill the forty-three car field. These cars are usually inferior machines in the world of Cup racing, and rarely complete the event. At Sunday's ...

NASCAR has been criticized in recent weeks for recruiting field-fillers, or part-time drivers, to fill the forty-three car field. These cars are usually inferior machines in the world of Cup racing, and rarely complete the event.

At Sunday's Darlington 400, four-time Cup series champion fell victim to one of the slower cars piloted by a driver considered a field-filler. At lap 29, the No. 20 of Tony Stewart tapped the No. 80 of Andy Hillenburg sending him sideways into the line of incoming traffic.

Jeff Gordon had nowhere to go as Hillenberg crossed the track, and t-boned the No. 80.

"It's been an issue," said Gordon of the field-fillers. "I think in qualifying, maybe there's a certain percent. In Formula 1, they have a 107% rule. This is the Nextel Cup series man. I mean this is the best of the best. We don't need to have cars out there that are just out there making a qualifying attempt and making the race."

Hillenburg was apologetic, stating "We'll get a faster car and come back next time."

The comment raises the question, that if Hillenburg felt that he did not have a fast enough car to race at today's event, should he have been allowed to start the race.

Jeff Gordon doesn't think so.

"As long as they are allowed to go out there and run the speeds, then by all means," said Gordon. "I don't know if that was Andy's fault. But I know there are other cars out there that are definitely not up to speed that need don't need to be in this series."

Fact of the matter is, while the cars of the field-fillers are considerably slower than the competitive cars on the track, they are black-flagged by NASCAR if they are not making the minimum speed requirement.

It brings concern that perhaps the way NASCAR determines the minimum speed at tracks should be adjusted.

"We talk about this all the time," commented Gordon. "Maybe the minimum speed needs to be adjusted."

NASCAR also needs to address whether or not it is necessary to have a forty- three car field at every race. Considering the majority of the part-timers (for the most part) only make a few laps before parking it or wrecking; it seems rather pointless.

"I don't care if there are 43 cars," said Gordon. "I don't know if the people in the stands really care if there are 43 cars. We need cars out there that are competitive and that need to be out there competing for position, not just riding around."

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Andy Hillenburg