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Earnhardt style leadership would lessen practice crashes

By admin | February 7, 2010

By Richard Allen

On Thursday NASCAR Sprint Cup cars hit the track for the first time in 2010. Shortly after that, they began hitting each other and the wall. Quickly, drivers and commentators began blaming the new restrictor plates being used. The more open plates caused cars to close on one another too quickly they said, which in turn caused the wrecks.

That much may or may not be true. The cars were closing on one another at a rapid rate which might have caused them to run into one another. However, there is more to it than that. Careless driving played a role as well.

Can you imagine having to come back to the garage after causing a big crash and explaining to Dale Earnhardt, Sr. why you just wrecked his car in the season’s first practice? How about having to face the legendary Petty or Pearson after you caused the destruction of their cars? Perhaps, Yarborough, Baker or Allison would offer you a friendly welcome back after your release from the infield care center, but most likely not.

New rules are part of the equation in explaining practice, or even race crashes. But a lack of garage area leadership and a lack or respect, or even fear, for each other is another cause. Granted, drivers need to find out what their cars will do leading up to a big race but there is no reason to wreck cars in practice, especially so early on.

Unless they meant to deliver a message, drivers did not run over each other in practice when the people mentioned above were driving because they knew better than to do so. The older drivers respected each other and the younger drivers were afraid to touch the older veterans.

Nowadays, drivers are so busy with their public relations guides and other corporate ‘handlers’ they don’t have time to deal with other drivers and assert themselves in a meaningful way in the garage area.

Jeff Gordon admitted as much on media day just before activities commenced at the Daytona International Speedway.

NASCAR racing has changed. Perhaps there is nothing that can be done about it in regard to the drivers’ inability to assert leadership. However, if they do not wish to continue riding back to the garage in an ambulance they may wish to let the other drivers know they do not appreciate that ride.

Even with all that said, it is still better for NASCAR not to serve as a garage area leader by instituting bad rules. Let the drivers figure it out on their own or let them suffer the consequences.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.

Topics: Articles |

5 Responses to “Earnhardt style leadership would lessen practice crashes”

  1. P Says:
    February 8th, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Um isnt the answer here the same reason Mark Martin doesnt burn up a car after a win. Didnt he once say if these kids had to work on those cars to get them ready again they would treat them a lot better

  2. boobie Says:
    February 8th, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Mark Martin had a senior moment and Dummy Hamlin had yet another inexperienced kid moment.

  3. Charles Says:
    February 8th, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    One key reason, not all there is more money in the sport and with large mega sponsors and more money in the teams, they will take more chances!Thus more wrecked cars!

    Remember the days of Alan Kuwicki, Bud Moore, Leo Jackson, Wood Bros, Mogan Mclure, they probably had only two cars at Daytona! So they made sure most of the drivers were conservative with their equipment!

    I still dont like the idea of doing ‘BURN OUTS” at the end of a race! Looks to me the way they ‘micro manage” the specs of a race car, being hight, tires, spoilier angle, etc, I have seen plenty of burnouts in which a blowned engine or tire, or back into the wall doing a doughnut, that damage a race car, one has to wonder how do they inspect after all the damage!!!!!!

    Another rule I would change is eliminate the ‘TAPE ON THE GRILLE” there is no need to have rules on grille or front fasia angles and styles and then cover it up with DUCT TAPE! I mean have you ever wondered what is wrong with leaving the grille open?

  4. Bruce Ferrell Says:
    February 9th, 2010 at 8:17 am


  5. Ole Putz Says:
    February 10th, 2010 at 10:22 am

    I still stand by my earlier comments. Lose the spoiler, lose the wing. STOCK cars are made of the manufacturer’s distinctive body styles. Take the glass out, put a cage inside, leave little tires on it and race!