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Penalty Problems

March 1, 2012 - Edward Thomas
The local dirt track drivers know how to compete without endangering lives and tearing up their cars. One driver may attempt to overtake another competitor, but will not jeopardize his well-being to do so. The more competitive a driver becomes in his or her career that aspect seems to diminish.

Today’s NASCAR drivers take another approach to driving. Winning is everything to these competitors. It seems the cost of a car or the safety of faithful fans has no bearing on their drive to get into Victory Lane.

NASCAR has told the drivers in the past to increase the level of competition and manage their disputes on the race track. Drivers have their own code to say whether an incident was intentional or just mere racing. Such conduct has been finding its way onto the local dirt tracks in the area. Track promoters and owners are enjoying this type of racing for the simple reason it broadens their fan base. More fans at the track will put more cash in their pockets.

With more cash comes the call for more excitement and possible harm to drivers and some safety workers at the local facilities.

During the Daytona 500, a driver was trying to catch up to the rear of the pack to achieve the best possible position and lost control of his car at over 160 miles per hour and slammed into a track workers vehicle. This incident was waved off by NASCAR and track owners as each driver doing their job. Both drivers were not harmed in the accident, but the cause was due to the pursuit of a driver trying to do more than they should during a caution period. Cautions are used to clean up the track and allow drivers to tune up their cars for the next racing segment.

Penalties are handed out to draw drivers, team owners and car chiefs for breaking rules or causing undo safety violations. Some of the incidents previously mention fall into these categories, but failed to have any sort of action taken by promoters or track officials.

So I ask this mere question to faithful fans: “When do penalties matter to today’s drivers and team owners?”

This is my one gripe about with local track owners and NASCAR. Penalties are nothing more than petty cash or vacation days for competitors. The one penalty all competitors will not stand for is being parked or having their competition license being revoked.

Drivers need to feel the privilege of competition is costly if their actions jeopardize the safety of fans and other drivers. Monetary penalties may be felt by local dirt track drivers and teams due to the costly effort of racing, but NASCAR teams and drivers need to be parked or revoke their competition license to drive home the severity of their “have at it actions.”


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Emergency workers try to put out a fire after Juan Pablo Montoya's car struck the truck during the Daytona 500.