Gentlemens Disagreement

If you ever get your hands on a NASCAR rulebook, lock it in a safe, put it in a shark infested swimming pool and surround the water with a dynamite booby-trapped fence. It's a precious property and one shouldn't take any chances with losing it.

The problem is a new one is printed almost daily.

The latest interpretation of NASCAR law under fire is the "unwritten rule" of not passing for position when racing back to the line when caution is displayed. It's a "gentlemen's agreement" that the drivers must excercise among themselves, you see, not a hard and fast rule.

In fact, improving your position under yellow before making it back to the start-finish line is perfectly legal as far as NASCAR goes, but the sanctioning body frowns upon it. However it is an issue left totally up to the drivers.

Confused? Get in line. So is about 90 percent of the Winston Cup driver roster.

"I never saw so many guys leave a driver's meeting so confused like I did last weekend at Sears Point," said Greg Biffle. "I immediately went up to a NASCAR official after the meeting and said no one understood what was said."

And of course that confusion led to Robby Gordon's controversial pass of teammate Kevin Harvick when yellow flew on lap 71, a perfectly legal move in the eyes of NASCAR but totally unacceptable to the majority of competitors.

Runnerup finisher Jeff Gordon lashed out at the move, although he tried the same thing back at Texas in March until NASCAR stepped in and took away the spot. President Mike Helton said the sanctioning body made a mistake then by stepping in and should have left Gordon's move stand. But Jeff didn't see it that way on Sunday.

This is such an easy fix it's maddening. Why not do what 99.9% of the racing world does and freeze the positions on the track when caution is displayed? No advancement. No racing back to the line through possible debris and wrecks. No more problems.

And while we're at it, why not put a yellow light on the dashboard of every car that comes on as soon as the tower calls for a caution? The driver would then know immediately to slow down in the name of safety and with the freeze rule in place, not be in danger of losing his spot.

Open wheel racing has utilized this system for years. ARCA introduced it last season. Just tell the teams to move some of those in-car camera signs and slogans off the dahsboard and install something that's really meaningful.

It's the gentlemenly thing to do.

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