Sunday, May 01, 2016

At Talladega And Elsewhere When Will NASCAR Figure It Out?

NASCAR declared Elliott Sadler the winner - even though objectively he isn't

And therein lay one of the fundamental problems NASCAR has that it seems incapable of addressing.   In the Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Elliott Sadler was declared winner because the yellow flew for Joey Logano's wreck and NASCAR determined through scoring loops that somehow he was the leader.   Why the yellow even flew at that circumstance is a question without much of an answer - saying it was for safety ignores that the leaders crashed anyway.

Moreover, has NASCAR ever given a credible reason for freezing the field when the caution comes out?  They implemented that rule because two or three cars at New Hampshire in 2003 sped up to put someone a lap down with Dale Jarrett crashed down the frontstretch - rather than hold those specific drivers accountable for a questionable decision, NASCAR decided to change the rule.  

The issue of letting cars race to the line has been a longstanding one where NASCAR has demonstrated the safety rationale for freezing the field is a fraud in such finishes as the 2004 Daytona 250 and the 2007 500.   The entire concept has done nothing for safety; it's put the wrong winner into victory lane on several occasions. 

Even when the right winner was seen, such as in the ARCA General Tire 200 the day before, there was no safety reason for not racing to the line.  

The rule needs to go, period.   Mike Joy in 1990 in Stock Car Racing Magazine proffered a sensible alternative - a red light rule when track conditions make racing to the line dubious - basically throw the red and yellow flags and lights on to make the cars slow down without racing in such a circumstance and revert to the last completed lap for the running order.  

It created needless controversy over what had been a competitive 300-miler for the Xfinity cars at Talladega.   NASCAR's absurd no-superdrafting rule bit Aric Almirola and Brendan Gaughn early on with a pass-through penalty and also once again needlessly stifled passing - best illustrated by the futile sidedraft battle by Joey Logano, Ryan Reid, et al that never got above fourth in tahe race'smiddle stages before Reid's crash set up the frantic final 25 or so laps.   The entire fiasco also ruined a superb effort by Brennan Poole, who took the flag first despite hitting the wall at the stripe with another car.  

It of course started with Logano and swerving with Sadler that sent him into the wall and a vicious semi-T-bone hit, and if you remember such controversies as Irwindale in 2009 that have followed Logano through his career one can feel a bit of poetic justice at work.  

The controversy also puts a damper on Sadler, the official winner for the first time in some two years.   Always a classy type, Sadler shouldn't have to defend himself for winning at Talladega; he wasn't the issue here, NASCAR's judgement is the issue.  


A delicious subplot to this Winston 500 weekend developed with Robbie Allison.   The son of Davey Allison and grandson of Bobby, Robbie won at Anderson Speedway, his first race win.   It's too premature for him to hit the superovals, but that career path looks certain down the road.  

No comments: