One of the issues that comes up each year at restrictor-plate tracks is the yellow line rule. Drivers are allowed to drive below the yellow line as long as they DO NOT improve their position. On the eve of the Daytona 500, a few Ford drivers...
One of the issues that comes up each year at restrictor-plate tracks is the yellow line rule. Drivers are allowed to drive below the yellow line as long as they DO NOT improve their position. On the eve of the Daytona 500, a few Ford drivers gave their opinion on the rule and how they deal with that situation.
JEFF BURTON - No. 99 CITGO Taurus:
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE YELLOW LINE RULE HERE AT DAYTONA? "The yellow line rule is kind of like paying taxes - it's for the overall good of everybody, but, boy, it sure hurts when you do your part. The yellow line rule has kept people from putting themselves in positions that they don't need to be in. If you are forced below the yellow line and a guy squeezes you down there, then you just have to lift. Now you no longer drive into turn three door-to-door with a guy on the apron. Overall, that's a positive thing. It's definitely changed the way you race, but it's the same for everybody. I didn't really think I was gonna like the yellow line rule, but, in retrospect, I think it's the right thing to do. I think it's a little bit better than not having it."
DAYTONA ISN'T AS WIDE AS TALLADEGA, SO DOES IT COME INTO PLAY MORE HERE? "The great thing about the yellow line rule is what it does when you enter the corner. There's plenty of room for four-wide on the back straightaway, but there's not room for four-wide once you get to the corner. So, now we don't enter the corner with a guy on the apron and everybody not knowing the guy is on the apron because that's what used to happen. When you entered turn three, you thought you were two-wide, but really you were three-wide because there was a guy on the apron and you didn't know that. But it is, without a doubt, frustrating sometimes when you get beside a guy and he runs you down below the yellow line. A majority of the time, the yellow line rule is a good thing. Sometimes the yellow-line rule is a bad thing."
SHOULD IT BE A JUDGEMENT CALL? "I'm not into judgement calls. The problem with judgement calls is if there's a driver that's been out there a long time and he races real clean and never causes any problems, if he does something that is looked at differently than a guy that's out there who is real aggressive and gets in wrecks. That's looked at differently, so in the case of when are you making a move you shouldn't have made, you can't be judgmental on those things. The only way to enforce the rule is to enforce it fairly for everybody. Even when Tony Stewart came down here a couple of years ago and got mad at NASCAR, NASCAR made the call that they had to make. Even though Johnny Benson ran him below the yellow line, you've got to lift. You've got to say, 'OK, I'm below the yellow line, I can't pass him.' They have been consistent in making that call, so now it should be real clear to everybody. Even if a guy squeezes you down there, you've got to lift and let the guy back in. I've done that on numerous occasions. I've pulled underneath people and gotten run below the yellow line and then had to slow up to let the guy back in front of me with no penalty. As long as you don't improve your position, there won't be a penalty. So you have an opportunity to make it not harm you. If you choose to ignore the rule and think to yourself, 'The guy ran me below the yellow line so they shouldn't penalize me,' then you will get penalized consistently. It doesn't matter how you got there, it only matters that you're there."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE RACE TOMORROW? "I think it's gonna be an interesting race. I think the small fuel cell is gonna have a definitely role in this race. Originally we all thought we were gonna pit more and handling wouldn't be as important. The problem with that is even though you're gonna pit more, you're only gonna be putting two tires on. As a result, you're gonna end up with more laps on tires than what we're used to having here. I think that for the first part of the race handling is not gonna be an issure, but in the middle of the race handling could be a huge issue. That is going to make a major difference in how this race is run."
RICKY RUDD - No. 21 Motorcraft Taurus:
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE YELLOW LINE? "I like the yellow line theory because I think it keeps wrecks from happening. I'm a big fan of that because what happens is it's usually not the aggressive guy that makes the move in the dirt, it's the guy on the outside that doesn't really see it coming. The next thing you know, he runs into the corner and everything shift up and he's got nowhere to shift but into the wall. I think you could fix that out of bounds by just making the race track narrower, but, until that time, you just have the yellow line. I think it does a good job. Everyone knows what the rule is and what the penalty is for passing below it. Some of the cars that might be fast and are kept in the back, it forces them to use a little more patience. The point is I like the line and think it's fair for everybody."
DOES THE LINE AFFECT HOW YOU RACE? "It affects your thought process. You've got to be able to protect the bottom, but sometimes it's not as easy as it sounds even with the line down there. Sometimes the car just doesn't enter the corner quite the way you want to and you can't always keep it on the bottom, even when you're trying. That was a bit of a problem the other day when that wind was whipping. A couple of times I got off the bottom and I was trying to protect it, but if I tried to steer it down there at the time with the way the wind caught me, I would have spun out. I think you'll see the outside line run. What happened the other day was that wind was blowing so hard. There was about a 14-15 car pack and maybe more than that, so if you attempted a move and didn't make it, you went back and got out of that transfer spot. That was on a lot of guys' minds. In the 500, you're gonna be more aggressive. Yeah, you're gonna go to the back, but you've got 500 miles to get back the front. I see it going more like you do at Talladega."
BEING THE FRONT CAR, HOWEVER, IS AN ADVANTAGE THOUGH BECAUSE YOU CAN FORCE THE GUY BEHIND YOU BELOW THE LINE, RIGHT? "The guy in front cannot leave a lane for a car to go down. If he doesn't leave a lane on the bottom, then that forces the line to the outside. If you've got the 8 car and he makes a run and he's not gonna be patient, he's gonna go the outside because his car is strong enough to go up there and move forward. Well, he's gonna bring that whole pack with him. I know there are five of the Chevys that can do that and they could overtake the inside line. You didn't really have that situation arrive the other day in the 125, but I'll guarantee you it will happen sometime during the 500. I saw it a while ago in practice. The 8 car got up behind me and pushed me around on the outside and we moved to the front of the pack. He literally pushed me all the way down the backstretch, but it pushed me to the front and we were the leader. Then we had the option of going to the bottom. You've got the 8, the 30, the 31 - you've got all the DEI and Childress cars that have the potential to do that. Again, protecting the bottom like you did in the 125, you can protect it all day long but you're gonna have that outside pack blow you away in certain circumstances."
ARE THE DEI AND CHILDRESS CARS THE ONES TO BEAT? "I know the 8 and I know the 15, I've personally seen them. The 31 and the 30, I've seen them but I haven't seen much of the 29 and the 1. Of the ones I have seen, they're sort of in another class and everybody else is in a big group. Those are the exceptions to that class and I don't know which one to pick as a favorite out of that group, but 500 miles is a long time to be able to run like that all day long. We'll see."
YOU'VE BEEN SOLID DURING SPEEDWEEKS. "There's nothing else we can really do. We can't be a hero out here because you've got to be able to be aggressive and pass and take the lead. We didn't have the car to do that the other day in the 125, so we had to do the best thing we could do to come out of there with the highest finish. We took third and moved on. Now, in the 500 I haven't seen anything to change that. You've still got those five or six cars to deal with. Maybe only half of them will be hanging around at the end of the race. Maybe a few of them will bend a fender up along the way by pushing people. It doesn't take much to tweak a car one way or the other and then, all of a sudden, what was an advantage can be a car that doesn't keep up."
ELLIOTT SADLER - No. 38 M&M's Taurus:
THE YELLOW LINE SEEMS TO COME INTO PLAY MORE AT DAYTONA THAN TALLADEGA. WOULD YOU AGREE? "Yeah, I agree with that because the track here is more narrow and when you do get three-wide and sometimes four-wide, the yellow line just sneaks up on you a lot faster. But I'm glad they have it in there because if you didn't, people would go below the yellow line between the tri-oval and turn one, and on the backstretch. Then when you get to the turn, that's the apron, so they have to come up. If the guy on the outside does not know that the inside line has to come up, I think you're gonna have a big wreck. So I'm glad the yellow line is enforced here and I think a lot of the drivers are. Yes, it does take away a passing lane, but it makes it safer getting into the corner - into turn three and between the tri-oval and turn one - because the guy that commits to the apron has to come up when he gets to the turn. I'm glad with the way they enforce it."
SOMEONE DESCRIBED THE LINE AS BEING LIKE ANOTHER WALL. "It should be. It's just like a wall and you can't go down there. When people go down there, I'm glad they enforce it because that causes a problem when you get to the turn. When they need to come back on the banking to make the turn, if the people on the outside rows don't know that, that's when the big wreck happens. A lot of wrecks are caused going into the corners because it gets pretty narrow in that area."
THE LINE DIDN'T COME INTO PLAY MUCH IN THE SHOOTOUT BECAUSE THE OUTSIDE LINE MOVED WELL, BUT IN THE 125S THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN. "I was very surprised like everybody else on Thursday that the outside line didn't work. Usually, the hotter and slicker the track gets, the better the outside groove works. I don't know, I hope that comes back in on Sunday because I think it'll make for better racing and give everybody a better shot to try and win this thing. If it's just a one-groove race track on the bottom, some of those guys starting up front can just get on the inside groove and ride. They can just stay right there and stay together and kind of be like a two or three-horse show. Hopefully, the outside groove will come in and give us some passing lanes."
WHAT'S A KEY TO THIS RACE TOMORROW? "I think pit stops are more important for this Daytona 500 than ever before. Drivers getting on pit road and not flat-spotting the front tires will be important because crew chiefs will probably only want to take two tires at a time to make sure they don't lose the draft and keep track position. I think the drivers have a lot of pressure on them this year as far as getting on and off pit road more and making fewer mistakes."