As with most changes in NASCAR, half the garage area was in favor of adding Jeff Gordon to the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship last week and half wasn’t.
But everybody agreed they’d like to see more consistency from the sanctioning body with the way it enforces their current rules.
Erratic enforcement of restart rules and out of bounds violations and team collusion has long been a part of stock car racing’s controversial past. NASCAR hoped to clean up some of those loopholes – and regain some integrity – last week by telling teams they are expected to race at “100 percent.” It also better defined rules for restarts.
What race teams want more than anything else, however, are rules that are black and white, not blurred by indecision.
“They say rules are clear, but I mean, I don’t know,” Juan Pablo Montoya said.
NASCAR president Mike Helton said his team would levy sanctions against anyone who artificially alters the outcome of a race.
NASCAR said it wouldn’t allow teams working together to affect the outcome. It also changed restarts, saying as long as the leader is the first to accelerate in the “starting zone,” it would allow a leader to be passed as long as he doesn’t change lanes until the start/finish line.
“This is something that I have never seen or been a part of in my career,” Jimmie Johnson said. “I think through all of this we all are just looking for consistency.”
While NASCAR said it won’t allow teams to gain extra finishing positions, it doesn’t have a problem with teammates swapping the lead to gain bonus points. And a bonus point for leading a lap is worth the same as finishing one spot ahead of a teammate – one point.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. said team orders have been around for a long time, and he doesn’t understand why they are becoming a big issue.
“I don’t think the integrity is damaged,” he said. “It’s a bit of a product of the Chase. But the idea of doing that is commonplace and has happened in year’s past. Drivers like myself have created cautions spinning out, we have thrown stuff out of cars to get cautions for certain reasons. That’s nothing new.”