On Friday, NASCAR announced amendments to the portion of its rule book pertaining to behavioral issues, making more specific penalties for things ranging from on-track misbehavior like intentionally wrecking a competitor to off-track stuff like racial slurs, sexist remarks, etc. For a look at the specifics, check out Auto Racing Daily’s reportage of the new text in the rule book, here.
I get the specifications, as they make clear and lay down guidelines for situations that presented themselves last year, like the multi-race dust-up between Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth that ultimately led to Kenseth’s suspension near season’s end and the early season issue with Kurt Busch. Remember when Busch was suspended because of that family court decision to issue his ex-girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, that protective order after that soap opera-esque hearing in which he said she was a trained assassin and she implied he was a raging alcoholic? That seems so long ago now, doesn’t it?
Anyway, back to the subject at hand.
Some fans, at least judging by social media posts, seem to be worried that these new specifications will make drivers even more vanilla than said fans seem to think they are, already, that they’ll be afraid to criticize the sport, specifically Brian France, for Bad decisions. Of course some of these fans are the same ones who complain week-in and week-out that the sports are fixed, that races are scripted, yet continue to tune in every week. So take that for whatever it’s worth.
Honestly, I think the rule is still somewhat vague. Sure, it lists behavior that may warrant penalties, but NASCAR did write in quite a bit of wiggle room. After all, there’s a list of considerations, like where infractions take place, when they take place, and yada, yada, yada.
But then again, I think that wiggle room is a good thing. After all, each situation is different and maybe, because of that, should be treated different. So, in reality, I don’t really blame NASCAR for the way the rule’s written. But at the same time, it creates the perfect situation for cries of favoritism if and when two similar situations aren’t handled similarly. Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t I guess.
But back to the PC, vanilla complaint, if you will. I don’t see it. When I read the verbiage, I didn’t really see the subject of criticisms of NASCAR decisions, rules changes, car parts, etc., approached. As far as comments go, the only subjects tackled pertained to things like questioning someone’s ancestory. I guess it’s a good think this rule wasn’t around back in 1979 to put a monkey wrench in that whole famed Bobby Allison and Donnie Allison vs. Cale Yarborough incident at Daytona. Bobby does claim that he questioned Cale’s ancesotry.
I’m not all that PC of a person. Many people who know me would be quick to tell you that, but I think at least that portion of the rule is a good thing. And as far as the on-track stuff, there does need to be some kind of policing. “Boys have at it” needs to have its limits. Looking back, I’m wondering if Robin Pemberton ever regrets uttering that phrase.
As far as vanilla drivers and the assumed fear of insulting “big brother,” I’ll remind you that one of the higher-ups at NASCAR, maybe France but I’m not positive, said that drivers were free to criticize NASCAR’s decisions but don’t put down the product.
I guess that stance still applies. It’s a stance that’s clear as mud to me, though. Aren’t NASCAR decisons part of the product? If not, where do decisions end and products begin? But I digress.
I do hope we still get to see that old “actions detrimental to stock car racing” phrase on Tuesday/Wednesday penalty announcements. Hey, it’s tradition. After all, when was a last time you didn’t see those words on a NASCAR penalty announcement. I don’t think it’s going anywhere; after all, it’s listed on announcements for penalties for not only behavioral issues, but also mechanical no-nos.
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