Rules and Safety: NASCAR's Recipe For The Perfect Storm

David YeazellSenior Analyst IApril 28, 2009

Safety is the No. 1 priority of NASCAR, and rules are what make the governing body work.


When they clash, is disaster imminent?


In Monday’s teleconference, Sprint Cup Series director John Darby, stated, "The yellow-line rule itself has been very effective in controlling some of the huge wrecks we used to have."


Instituted for the safety of the drivers, it was this very rule that helped send Carl Edwards on his flight to the finish.


How does a rule put into effect for the safety of drivers, turn into the catalyst that almost cost a driver his life?


"I firmly believe in my own mind that if you move both cars up two lanes on the racetrack, the same wreck would have happened and the results would have been similar," Darby said.


Tried and tested, the "car of tomorrow" is much safer than the cars of years gone by. Its revolutionary design could have been what saved Carl Edwards life.


Having the tougher handling COT married to a restrictor plate engine should, in effect, decrease speeds at the super speedways, right?


Before the COT, bump drafting was very limited due to the offset of the front and rear bumper. The front and rear bumper design on the COT allows one car to virtually tuck under the other. Two cars almost become one with an instant increase in speed.


Blasting to the front in their ultra-safe rocket ship, Edwards and Brad Keselowski passed Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the high side, at a speed of 209 mph—over 20 mph faster than the pole speed.


"A lot of what the sport surrounds is professional drivers controlling cars at high speeds," Darby said.


Keselowski had to know that at that speed, if he touched Edward’s car from the side, it would have devastating results.


Is winning the race really worth another man's life?   


Rules and safety collaborated to create a perfect storm at Talladega. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured or killed—this time.


Daytona is only two months away, and in the fall there will be more racing at Talladega.


It’s time for NASCAR to heed the storm warnings before someone is seriously injured or killed.