Any sports league is bound to have some pretty ridiculous rules for either no reason at all or, if there is a reason, the reasoning isn’t sound. NASCAR is no exception.
So we at the Daily Downforce would like to discuss what we feel are some of the dumbest rules in NASCAR accompanied by a few horrible calls.
#5 Drivers Policing Drivers
When “Boys Have At It” was implemented in 2010, it was a welcome change in the eyes of many NASCAR fans as many of them felt that the smash-mouth era of NASCAR from the likes of Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace had all but died. It seemed far too often that two drivers would get together and there would be a penalty of some sort.
But now in the year of 2023, it would appear that the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction. Drivers seem to be running over one another left and right with absolutely no consequences. A penalty regarding this issue was always going to be a judgement call kind of thing (and we all know how great NASCAR is at judgement calls!) but there needs to be at least some sense of order when it comes to the sport. In many short tracks across the country, if you just blatantly run over somebody, intentional or not, you’re immediately sent to the back.
Look, I have no issue with drivers policing other drivers to start with. But if it goes on for a while like it has the last several years, the situation is just going to continue to get worse and worse.
One example of a driver policing another driver is from the 2015 fall Martinsville race. Kenseth had been irritated with Logano for several months and he finally, in this race, enacted his revenge. It was intentional. Everybody knew it was intentional, even though Kenseth denied it at the time. Kenseth was then suspended for the next race at Texas, which was the correct call.
However, this far less egregious incident featuring Denny Hamlin and Ross Chastain at Phoenix this year is an extension of this continuing problem in NASCAR. Ross Chastain consistently runs over fellow drivers and has been grinding on Hamlin’s nerves for over a year. Nothing was done about Chastain’s overly aggressive driving (not even a stern finger wagging) so, Denny Hamlin did what was expected of him–he took it into his own hands and walled them both.
In this case, Hamlin was not suspended but he was punished in the form of a deduction of 25 points and a fine of $50,000. And for what? For admitting to taking the situation into his own hands, which is what this whole “drivers policing drivers” approach promotes? NASCAR is willfully punishing drivers for what they say they want. How does that make sense?
#4 The Entire Atlanta Motor Speedway Rules Package
To be honest, the final laps of the Atlanta Cup race were pretty solid. I’m not going to lie. But prior to that fifteen or so minutes of watchability, the pack was just a train along the top with little-to-no actual racing moves being made.
Restrictor plate (or superspeedway) style racing was created for one reason and one reason only: for SAFETY! Specifically, for the safety of the drivers and spectators as these monstrous 2.5 mile ovals in Talladega and Daytona. For those tracks, it’s necessary because we can’t have cars going around those giant tracks hitting 230 or 240 miles per hour. It’s just not safe.
Atlanta, though, that’s a completely different story. There haven’t been any big, scary wrecks at Atlanta in a long, long time. This wasn’t done to make drivers and spectators safer, it was done purely as a gimmick…which is inherently the wrong thing to do when it comes to implementing an entire rules package.
The gang at Dirty Mo Media’s Door, Bumper, Clear spoke about just that last week following the Atlanta race weekend.
#3 The Reduction of Practice and Qualifying
Cost cutting seems to be a hot take in many areas around the world and NASCAR is no exception. During the pandemic in 2020, NASCAR decided to cancel practice and qualifying for the remainder of the season once races resumed. At the time, this was seen as a necessary evil. It was done for safety to slow the spread of the deadly Corona Virus amongst teams and drivers.
And while Covid-19 is not gone and I really doubt we ever will get completely rid of it, the situation has changed. We are now no longer in a global pandemic, most everybody involved in NASCAR is vaccinated, and the world at large has resumed to its relatively normal ways. NASCAR hasn’t. Not entirely.
For the 2021 season, they kept in place the no practice/qualifying rules and bright it back only a little in 2022 while still not having it at superspeedways in any capacity. This was done to cut costs and save the teams money, or so NASCAR has said. It’s hard for me believe that considering the addition of Atlanta as a superspeedway with NO PRACTICE OR QUALIFYING but I digress.
This reduction in practice and qualifying has arguably led to the late-career falloff of Kyle Busch as well as turning the second and third tier series into glorified wreck fests due to the lack of track time. Our DDF good buddy, the Iceberg made a video a couple of months ago about this very problem.
#2 The Double Yellow Line Rule
This rule…has been a heated topic for a long, long time. To NASCAR’s credit, it is the product of good intentions. It was first implemented in 2001 after the tragic accident which claimed the life of the legendary Dale Earnhardt. It was created as a safety precaution, which I can respect.
The problem is, with many of these superspeedway races becoming more and more violent with crazier accidents, I don’t really see this yellow line rule stopping accidents from happening. If anything, it causes even more accidents with drivers unwilling to dip below it (see the Carl vs. Brad crash at 2009’s Talladega race).
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has long been a champion of deleting this rule from NASCAR’s rulebook. Have a listen.
And, the upside of getting rid of this rule is that we would no longer have stupid controversies like this one, many which could have changed the course of a career.
#1 The Damaged Vehicle Policy
One of the coolest and most badass things that has ever happened in NASCAR is this right here. It was the 1997 Daytona 500 and Dale Earnhardt in his iconic black #3 flipped. He got out of the car, started to get in the ambulance, but took a look back. All four of the car’s wheels were still on it.
Not liking the shame that comes with not finishing a race he could have, Dale Earnhardt jumped back in his battered No. 3 Chevy and drove it to pit road. The crew repaired the damage as good as they could and NASCAR cleared them to return to action. The RCR #3 crew had ZERO DNFs the entire year of 1997.
Several years later, his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr. after running well was involved in an incident which tore up the front end of his Budweiser Chevy.
The No. 8 DEI crew made several pit stops to keep Little E. in contention and was rewarded with a top-5 finish. In the video below, the Iceberg shows you that the No. 8 Bud crew never gave up.
Instances like these aren’t possible in today’s NASCAR. Not with the damaged vehicle policy. These days, if you get into a incident that was not of your choosing, it’s all but a guarantee the you’re going to be parked. There’s no salvaging a bad day to gain as many points as possible, you’re just sort of done succumbed to whatever bad hand luck had dealt you that day.
Or, in the case of Josh Williams, you’re the victim of NASCAR just being in a bad mood over the abysmal racing at Atlanta so they find a rule that is rarely enforced and hammer you down with it, which, in turn, leads to acts of outright defiance like this one.
There are many dumb rules in the NASCAR rule book. What are some of yours?