Not to beat a dead horse, but I decided to bring up the topic of blocking again. You know, the move for which both Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart are critical of Joey Logano. Hamlin and Stewart have both had run-ins with Logano the last couple of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and neither were happy with the young driver. The reason I’m bringing this topic up, yet again, is because both Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Ryan Newman participated in NASCAR video conferences earlier this week, and both drivers were asked about blocking. The two drivers had differing opinions on the matter, but keep in mind that Newman drives for the Stewart-owned Stewart-Haas Racing.
Anyway, Earnhardt commented that it was just a part of racing, a sometimes acceptable move to keep the driver behind you, well, behind you. He went on to say that the acceptability of blocking depended on several factors, including timining and allowing the driver being blocked ample room. He also admitted to blocking, himself.
Newman, meanwhile, simply referred to blocking as a “chicken move” that should be left to the guys of F1 and Indycar.
Below, is a word-for-word account of each driver’s view of blocking:
DALE EARNHARDT JR.: Well, I think that every driver is going to have a different opinion. My opinion is that — I don’t — I might block in certain situations. I would expect and accept to be blocked in certain situations. But you’ve got to give me racetrack. You’ve got to give me somewhere to run. You can’t just run me up into the fence. You’ve got to give me a lane. You’ve got to give me — if you give me a reasonable amount of racetrack to race on, then I really can’t complain in regards to what you’re trying to do to maintain the position.
Also it depends on what time in the race it is. Is it time to be blocking? Is the position that important at that moment in time? Again, everybody will have a different opinion.
But when somebody blocks me, I’m not blown away by the notion. You know, some guys are more adamant about it than others. Some guys block stronger or block the whole racetrack and think that’s okay. But everybody has got a different opinion. You’ve got to give me some racetrack where I can compete, give me a fair opportunity to race you cleanly and race you with respect, and you’ll get the same from me.
You know, I’m not going to say that I’ve never blocked anybody because I have, and you do, you will. Being in certain situations, that’s your only alternative. But you’ve got to give people racing room or expect to get turned around or expect to make a few people upset.
And I’m not really picking sides either way. You know, I think in my opinion it was just hard racing. The guy is leading the race, he’s trying to do what he can to win. I don’t like to get run in the fence and I don’t like to get run in the grass, and if you give me enough racetrack I can’t really get too upset about a guy trying to maintain his position, especially near the end of the race.
RYAN NEWMAN: Good question. I don’t know if they talked, plan or talking or won’t ever talk again. I think that there was true frustrations in the blocking. I think blocking is a chicken way to drive, not to — it’s just something I don’t do. If you’ve got a run on me, take it. If I can get through the corner better than you, then we’ll race, but blocking is an IndyCar form or F1 form or an open wheel type move it seems like. It’s not to say they don’t do it in NASCAR; obviously they do, but to me it’s just a chicken way of driving and not very respectful for the guys around you. You’re there to race, you’re not there to block. So I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know if there will be retaliation, I don’t know if they’ll talk and never have retaliation, who knows, good question.
As Earnhardt mentioned, there are differing opinions as to whether or not blocking should be accepted, both among drivers in the garage and fans in the stands. But no matter the opinion, the move is one that is, most certainly, here to say. And really, shouldn’t it be?