By admin | April 26, 2009
By Richard Allen
During the pre-race programming for the Aaron’s 499 at the Talladega Super Speedway the Fox Network crew made sure to tap into the drivers meeting so that viewers could hear NASCAR’s David Hoots give the competitors a stern talking to. The message was given, loud and clear, that there was to be no passing below the yellow line.
The broadcast crew joked that Hoots’ message left no doubt as to the meaning of the talk. Drivers and crew chiefs sat solemnly and listened intently. Surely, everyone clearly got the message that NASCAR indeed meant business in regard to its no passing below the yellow line rule.
This warning came in the wake of a controversial finish the last time the Sprint Cup Series raced at Talladega. In that race, Regan Smith passed by Tony Stewart on the last lap and was the first to cross the finish line. However, the pass was disallowed due to the fact that Smith went below the yellow line and Stewart was declared the winner.
There would have been no controversy if the rule was enforced each time the infraction was committed. But, there are highlights of past races in each of NASCAR’s major divisions at Talladega and Daytona, the only tracks to have a yellow line rule, that show the rule is only applied selectively.
So, back to the pre-race talk by Mr. Hoots. This time there would be no doubt. The rule is the rule. There is no interpretation.
Well, even before the halfway mark of the race Denny Hamlin and Brian Vickers clearly passed the car of Brad Keselowski by going below the yellow line. Needless to say the drivers were penalized after that clearly defined, stern talking to, right?
Wrong! No penalty was issued. A warning was given instead.
So much for that drivers meeting stern talk.
I bet Regan Smith would like to know what happened to his warning.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
*For a chuckle, click on the link below to watch my animated short film, “Racing Re-Cap: Talladega”.
In this episode racing reporter Mark Mustang is stunned when co-host Daisy Dreamboat says she has a racing question. But, the question turns out not to be about racing at all.
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