The last thing NASCAR needs is for officials to make another judgment call. But that’s exactly what many are asking the sanctioning body to do in the wake of drivers being accused of intentionally spinning out to cause a caution.
Two weeks ago at Martinsville, Joey Logano’s spin caused consternation for some although NASCAR did not make a call or even review the incident. Last week at Texas, Bubba Wallace generated the ire of Kyle Larson, when he was involved in a lazy spin to bring out a caution. While Wallace, who did have a tire down on his car, was able to limp back to pit road under yellow without much time, the turn of events bit Larson.
The Chip Ganassi Racing driver was caught a lap down while pitting seriously derailing Larson’s chances of competing for a win.
“That was very obvious (Wallace) was spinning on purpose,” Larson said. “He turned right and left to spin out. So when it’s blatant and that obvious, I think it’s pretty easy for them to notice it and make a call on it.
“It’s B.S. I’ve done it. We’ve all done it in those positions, but until NASCAR steps in, and whether it’s a fine or a penalty with points or something, people are still going to do it.”
Denny Hamlin wasn’t impacted by the Wallace scenario but voiced a similar sentiment to Larson’s view.
“Bubba’s (spin) this weekend was pretty obvious and obviously it hurt some people and helped others,” Hamlin said at a Toyota Motor North America Headquarters event in Texas. “He’s just following in everyone else’s footsteps. It’s been going on for a long time. Especially this time of the season, it can potentially change a lot of things in the playoffs that it shouldn’t.”
The issue is certainly on NASCAR’s radar despite the sanctioning body not making a call the last two races.
“Well it’s going be a judgment call, for sure,” said NASCAR’s executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive.” “I think that’s something, you know, as momentum builds or you see a trend and you’ve got to react, you do.
“We tend to trust the teams out there and the drivers maybe too much at times. But we’ll certainly take a look at that. Obviously, didn’t make a call during the race Sunday. If it’s something we’ve got to address, we’ll talk to the drivers and race teams over the week. If we need to address it, we will in the drivers meeting ahead of Sunday’s race (at ISM Raceway) and make sure we’re staying on top of that.”
But in a sport that is already plagued by too many judgment calls, adding another is problematic. Proving intent even in incidents some believe is blatant behavior opens a major can of worms.
However, in the middle of a playoff stretch and with the championship potentially being impacted by intentional spins and subsequent cautions, NASCAR may have no choice but to get involved.
Unless drivers just, you know, decide to race and beat each other fair and square.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.