Thursday, November 09, 2006

NASCAR garage area isn’t a playground at some elementary school

OK, and I am really dating myself here, but I am reminded of a line in a song by America called “Sister Golden Hair” about being “one poor correspondent.”
It has been nearly two weeks since I’ve updated this blog, and that’s bad. I’ve got reasons, which we’ll get to, but that’s still fairly lame.
But we’re moving. When I way we, of course, I mean my wife is trying to move the stuff we own from one house to another. It’s maybe 2 miles from one place to another, but it might as well be from Charlotte to Phoenix, which is where I am flying today (which is Thursday, in case this winds up being posted for more than week, too).
I went to Texas last weekend for the race there, of course, and Katy had one of her good friends down to, at least in theory, see the grandbaby. Pam, who’s from Illinois, wound up getting drafted into the moving vortex and we’re hoping that she’ll still speak to us after a respectful cooling off period.
Moving is about as much fun as…well…I can’t think of a decent metaphor. Working in an asbestos mine? Mucking out pig sties? You fill in the blanks.
Anyway, while I had a minute before the plane took off I thought I would comment about the incident after the race in Texas in which Kevin and Delana Harvick and a NASCAR official went down after a confrontation with someone on the No. 10 team.
Whenever there’s some kind of postrace altercation, I usually get feedback from fans who tell me that I overreact when I say NASCAR is right to fine, suspend and otherwise penalize people for such antics. Let these guys show a little emotion, these folks say.
Well, I am here to tell you that the garage is a very dangerous place right after a race. A lot of people are moving around a lot of heavy stuff in a big hurry, trying to get the gear packed up so they can all race to the airport and brag about how fast they got back to Charlotte.
If you’re going into the garage after a race, you have to have your head on a swivel and be ready to react to just about anything. You can get run over by all manner of contraptions in there if you’re not careful.
Now, if you add to that environment someone who’s out of control in anger over something that happened near the end or after a race, you’ve got a mess on your hands.
I didn’t see what happened Sunday night, but I’ve talked to people who either did or talked to people who did. There’s a ramp that runs down from pit road into the garage area at Texas, and the best I can tell someone pushed Harvick on that ramp and he lost his balance. That set up a bowling-pin effect, with Delana and the NASCAR official going down, and then a crash cart ran over the official’s ankle.
NASCAR was right to suspend the crew member from the 10 team who apparently pushed Harvick to start all of that. It would have been nice if NASCAR had anticipated the confrontation and taken more measures to keep it from happening, but that’s revisionist history. Sometimes people who’re hot at each other wind up in the same place and there’s nothing you can do to stop that.
As to what happened on the track to lead to the postrace incident, I will say the same thing about this one that I say about all of them. I don’t care what happened on the track. I don’t care who was right or who was wrong. It doesn’t matter. You can’t bring that into the volatile postrace environment without creating unnecessary risk to people who have no dog in the fight, and there’s no place for it in the sport.
I’ve heard all the old stories about people chasing each other around after races swinging tire irons or pulling pistols on each other. I could say that’s all part of the sport’s colorful past and times have changed. But that’s wrong. It was just as insane for people to act that way 20, 30 or 40 years ago as it would be today.
The garage area isn’t a playground at some elementary school where the worst thing that’s likely to happen is a skinned elbow. There’s too much happening after a race to let this kind of stuff go on, and NASCAR was right in moving quickly to address the issue. And the next time it happens, the penalty should be more severe.
Actually, just like with me moving, let’s hope it’s a LONG time before there is a next time.


Anonymous said...

Preach on David!

There is no place for this stuff no matter what happens on the track. This isnt the NHL where fighting or physical altercations are allowed.

Nascar is correct in taking a hardline approach to such things.

Monkeesfan said...

I always cringe when I hear someone say, "Let them show emotion." Emotion is the enemy of rational analysis and competition; those who play on emotion rarely if ever succeed because they let the emotion interfere with a rational approach. NASCAR needs to crack down on "emotion" even more, from banning burnout laps and climbing the fence onward. Make these guys act like Barry Sanders - whose philosophy on touchdowns was no taunting, get the score, hand the ball to the ref, then go back to the sideline - instead of Deion Sanders. Chances are we'd see a reduction in postrace fights like this.

TalkGeorge said...

DP...welcome back! I thought maybe you had gone to Mexico to be Jeff and Ingrid's best man.

On the other hand, it was nice you got to leave your tribute blog to your Dad up for a while!

Unknown said...

Why is there a double standard when it comes to disciplining drivers and crewmen? If that was Tony Stewart instead of some noname crewman from the 10 team does anyone think he would have been suspended?

What about when it comes to cheating? Robby Gordon can intentionally cause a caution and, while he was docked points, he would never be suspended. Yet if the 48 or 29 or whover gets caught with something illegal in prequalifying or prerace inspection then Chad Knaus or Todd Berrier or whoever it may be would get suspended for 3 or 4 races.

I think it's time for NASCAR to start being consistent with punishments.

Monkeesfan said...

kenorv, for NASCAR to become consistent with their punishments they have to fall out of love with certain "stars" in the sport.

Monkeesfan said...

okla21fan, there's an irony in using the NHL analogy - I often hear laments from hockey fans about the NHL taking fighting out of the game.

Whatever said...

Fighting = burnouts and fence climbing? What?

Anonymous said...

Charges filed against Riggs Crew member after Texas track incident:
Delana got knocked over, cow tipping is illegal in Texas

Anonymous said...

Whoa........let's back up to the real truth here. It's not about pushing, shoving and name calling. I guess it shows how Kevin Harvick got himself in that situation and didn't have a fast enough car to pass Riggs. Nor did Kevin or his spotter have the smarts to get him around the traffic. From what tv said....Happy had a great car.....too bad he couldn't drive it!

Monkeesfan said...


Re-read what I said. NASCAR needs to take "emotion" out of the game from burnouts and fence-climbing onward - make the drivers act like Barry Sanders instead of Deion Sanders. That kind of discipline does more to reduce the incidence of fighting than a lot of people think.

Monkeesfan said...



"Nez is accused of cow-tipping. He said to the cow, 'Buy International Steel at 28 1/2.'"

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Anonymous said...