Kyle Busch Shows NASCAR Blocking Is a Hazard

Kyle LavigneAnalyst IJuly 6, 2009

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - JULY 04:  Kyle Busch, driver of the Interstate Batteries Toyota, crashes into the wall on the final lap as he crosses the finish line and Kasey Kahne, driver of the #9 Budweiser Dodge, crashes into the back of him during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 51st Annual Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 4, 2009 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Block(v): to act so as to obstruct an opponent.

Such an act claimed it’s second victim in NASCAR this season, as Kyle Busch’s attempt to do so sent him into the wall…and got him rammed twice (once in the back bumper, once in the driver’s side).

When Carl Edwards flipped at Talladega, many blamed the close confines of restrictor plate racing.

Some, myself included at the time, believed it was the yellow line rule and NASCAR’s interpretation of it.

Going below that line and passing someone brings an automatic penalty, while forcing someone below that line (with the alternative being a crash) is perfectly fine. Putting someone in that position (“Do I wreck the guy I’m passing, or go ‘out of bounds’ and get a penalty?”), a dangerous move in it’s own right, isn’t actually worthy of a penalty.

However, Saturday night’s race gave a different reason for the craziness we’ve seen in the restrictor plate races. Until NASCAR decides to try to change this rule, more accidents like this will happen...and a driver could get hurt (or worse) in the process.

I would agree that  NASCAR may have made too many rules and rule changes over the past few years, but this one I think needs to be in play (although, it is a bit of a challenge to do so).

What may need to be done to prevent wrecks like the one Kyle Busch had Saturday night is a rule against BLOCKING.

Unfortunately, it seems like blocking has become more and more a part of racing, especially with the advent of restrictor plate racing.

It is commonplace for a driver to get a run on someone, only to see another driver shoot up in front of him, to (1) stop him from going by and (2) to get a push and move forward in the pack.

It may be common to see right now, but it doesn’t mean it has a place in racing (in my opinion at least). Therefore, I propose that NASCAR follow most other series in the world and adopt this rule: a driver gets one defensive move, but cannot make another move afterward.

Notice it says “defensive move,” which differs, if only slightly, from blocking. Such a move is best understood as one made before an opponent tries to pass.

For example, it could be as simple as staying glued to that yellow line, forcing opponents to pass on the outside, which is assumed to be the longer (and more difficult) way around.

Of course, a “no blocking” policy works perfectly in theory, but can be difficult to firmly implement. Making a call like that is often very gray, which would make NASCAR even more vulnerable to even more criticism (assuming such a rule is eventually implemented).

However, perhaps it could offer a solution to the violent crashes we’ve seen at the end of the previous two restrictor plate races. A firm hand with that rule would do the trick, so long as NASCAR isn’t afraid to pull the trigger and penalize a driver, not simply offer a warning every time it happens.

Most every other form of racing, most notable being Indycar racing, has figured out a way to make such a rule work relatively well (though, some calls are obviously missed, for various reasons).

It would be difficult to make such calls against blocking, but it offers a solution that won’t affect the cars themselves (adjustments on which could cost teams money, which is at a premium in this economy).

Is a “no blocking” rule perfect? No, it’s not. But, it is something that needs to be addressed, and success can be had…so long as a commitment is made to it.