Gas 'N' Go: Blocking in NASCAR

NASCAR

Tony Stewart wasn't happy with Joey Logano's blocking move at Auto Club Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)

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The pits are open again and the MotorRacingNetwork.com editorial staff answers this week’s featured question in "Gas 'N' Go."

What’s your take on blocking in NASCAR after the Tony Stewart/Joey Logano incident at Auto Club Speedway and Ryan Newman’s recent comments that blocking is a “chicken way to drive?"

MRN Staff Answer
Pete Pistone
Pete Pistone

I will never understand any driver's beef about "blocking" and find Newman's comments borderline ridiculous.  The essence of auto racing is to keep everyone behind you on the racetrack and with the exception of purposely running into someone as payback or retaliation, drivers should use every possible maneuver to accomplish that goal.  Thankfully, NASCAR does not have a rule against blocking like the open-wheel world of Formula One and IndyCar.  Staying in front of the competition is the name of the game and if a driver has to work hard to move around someone and make a pass, so be it.  It's also interesting how a perspective changes when a driver goes from a blocker to a blockee, isn't it?

Pete Pistone
Tony Rizzuti

Blocking has been a part of racing ever since the first two automobiles lined up and someone said, "Go!"  In NASCAR, there is no "official" rule that states blocking is illegal.  It's always been something the drivers have policed themselves.  My favorite on this subject is Ron Hornaday, who leads all drivers in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins (51) and has raced in all three major NASCAR series.  Hornaday said he uses the "Three Strikes" approach when racing.  Strike 1: He gives you the spot back.  Strike 2: He gives you a bump to let you know he's not happy.  Strike 3: Around you go.  It doesn't matter who, why or where - three strikes and you're out!  By the way, Hornaday is 54 years old so that strategy hasn't hurt his racing career at all.  As I've said before, in the case of Stewart vs. Logano, I believe Joey did nothing wrong and Tony could have chosen any other lane or just knocked him out of the way.  As for Newman ... that's his opinion and everyone is entitled to one.

Pete Pistone
John Singler

I’m still scratching my head, trying to figure out exactly what it was Tony Stewart expected Joey Logano to do in the closing laps at Fontana.  Pull over and let him drive by?  If the roles had been reversed, you can bet that No. 14 Chevrolet would have gotten as wide as the distance between perception and reality that enveloped Stewart down the stretch in the Auto Club 400.  Just as it is in football, blocking and passing are essential elements to the NASCAR play book.  The race leader’s first option is to remain the race leader.  If you don’t have a car fast enough to drive away from everyone else then figure out another way to keep challengers behind you … block them if you must.  It’s no more complicated than that.  As for Ryan Newman clucking about the strategy being a “chicken way to drive,” I’m pretty sure he’s thrown a block or two at some point along the way during his 12 years in the Sprint Cup Series.  These guys all have short memories.  But what we’re really hearing from Stewart and Newman these last couple weeks has very little to do with Joey Logano or blocking.  It has everything to do with the frustration of a three-car team at Stewart-Haas Racing without a single driver near the top 10 in points through the first five races.  Newman leads the way in 20th.  They would do well to “block” out all the distractions and just run better.

Jeff Wackerlin
Jeff Wackerlin

I agree 100% with Logano's post-race comments from Fontana when he said, "If it was early in the race, that would have been a dumb move.  But it was late in the race and that's what I had to do."  It's not like Logano had a slow car.  He was second over the course of the race in a number of loop data stats - fastest early in a run, fastest on restarts and speed in traffic - to eventual race winner Kyle Busch, the driver he was behind on that restart.  But when Busch spun his tires, Logano lost momentum and saw Stewart coming with a run.  I think he did the right thing to keep his contending car out-front because it was the closing laps.

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