NASCAR Should Probably Have Some Rules

Credit: Brian Lawdermilk - Getty Images
In 2010, NASCAR was in the midst of a long malaise. The series responded with a simple decree that not only shied away from punishing intentional contact, but actively encourages it: “Guys, get it.” After just four points-paying races this season, the series suffered what was arguably its worst intentional crash ever , when Carl Edwards was spinning Brad Keselowski at the high-speed Atlanta Motor Speedway, causing Keselowski's car to roll into a fence at high speed. Edwards was immediately parked and placed on probation for the violation.
But the new philosophy went on, rarely interrupted by incidents so bad that some kind of punishment had to be imposed. Notable examples that ended in suspensions, such as Kyle Busch's accident to Ron Hornaday in a Truck Series race later in 2010 and Matt Kenseth's accident to Joey Logano, which changed the season in the 2015 playoffs, were exceptions to cases where a Indeed, as obvious as a reaction was required. Last weekend, such a case didn't even end with a suspension.
Noah Gragson, who you may remember as the driver who turned a lot of bad luck into a week-long tirade on Twitter in an early race last season, was battling with IndyCar veteran Sage Karam for position in last year's Xfinity Series race Rounded a few corners at Road America on Saturday before losing patience. Karam raced hard with him, which he had a problem with. Since this is NASCAR, where disputes about on-track driving standards are resolved by guys doing it, Gragson decided to take on Karam by purposely spinning him on the track's fast second straight. Karam threw himself back into traffic, destroying 11 other cars, mostly operated by underfunded teams. Grason continued in the race without any kind of penalty and eventually finished eighth.
Despite widespread anger across the industry, Gragson was not suspended. He was not placed on parole and his playoff position was not violated in any way. Instead, the two-time 2022 Xfinity Series winner was fined $75,000 and penalized 30 regular season points. With Gragson already having won two races and already mathematically locked in the series playoffs, these are the points that would be wiped away once the championship fight begins in earnest in the first round of the series playoffs.
However, Gragson was at least punished. Other obvious intentional wrecks, particularly those in fights for wins, were not discouraged at all. In the years since Austin Dillon won the Daytona 500 by spinning Aric Almirola at full speed on a straight, such falls have only increased in frequency. We've seen quite a few this season, including last-lap crashes at both Bristol and the Circuit of the Americas. At Bristol, Chase Briscoe simply dove into a corner he would never take, destroying both himself and the second-place leader. At COTA, Ross Chastain delivered a bumper to leader AJ Allmendinger that shot him into second-place Alex Bowman and opened the door to victory for Chastain.
As these wrecks become more common, a pattern seems to be emerging. While the Cup Series still has an older contingent that raced well before "Boys, have at it," an increasingly younger grid whose careers began after that 2010 decree has led a revisionist history at NASCAR Week always been like this for week and off for week, rather than such crashes being rare exceptions. Famous quotes from extraordinary moments in the careers of Ayrton Senna and Dale Earnhardt Sr. are quoted online, perhaps even a slap thrown in the pit lane, but real penalties are seldom pronounced and the seldom promised revenge on the track actually happens only nourishes that Problem.
The story goes on

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