As part of its continued efforts to ensure the safety of its drivers, NASCAR announced new rules Friday regarding on-track protocol following crashes and other similar incidents.
The official press release has been made available on NASCAR.com, and the bulk of the changes relate to what drivers are expected to do during a caution.
ESPN's Marty Smith also tweeted a photo of the press release:
NASCAR announces new rule about drivers involved in cautions -> pic.twitter.com/rVzZFqsUtc— Marty Smith (@MartySmithESPN) August 15, 2014
NASCAR asks that drivers across all levels of the organization do not disconnect any safety equipment unless directed to do so by an official. After that, the driver must proceed to an emergency vehicle and is prohibited from going onto the track or approaching other cars under all circumstances.
According to the press release, NASCAR Vice President of Competition and Racing Development Robin Pemberton believes these new rules are for the betterment of the sport.
Throughout the history of our sport, NASCAR has reviewed and analyzed situations and occurrences that take place not just in NASCAR racing but also throughout all motorsports and other sports. When we believe we can do something to make our sport safer and better for the competitors and others involved in the competition environment, we react quickly. Safety always has been priority number one at NASCAR.
Pemberton made mention of occurrences outside NASCAR, and Smith confirms Pemberton was referencing, in part, the tragic incident between NASCAR star Tony Stewart and 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. in a sprint car race last weekend:
Pemberton says the Tony Stewart/Kevin Ward, Jr. incident played a role in NASCAR decision to implement the rule.— Marty Smith (@MartySmithESPN) August 15, 2014
Per Smith, Pemberton emphasized the fact that these new rules have always been in place in an unwritten form, but making them official will ensure protocol is followed:
Pemberton: We’re just formalizing rules that have been there. Reminders take place during drivers meetings. Something we worked on this week— Marty Smith (@MartySmithESPN) August 15, 2014
According to Bob Duff of The Windsor Star, Sprint Cup driver David Ragan sees this becoming the norm across racing as a whole:
#NASCAR driver David Ragan on rule change: " I think it’s a move you’ll see from a lot of other series as well.”— Bob Duff (@asktheduffer) August 15, 2014
The official announcement comes just a few days after Sprint Cup star Brad Keselowski told Nate Ryan of USA Today that preventing drivers from leaving their cars would be difficult.
"I don't know how you can enforce a rule like that unless you had a robot on the track to grab the person and put them back in the car," Keselowski said. "The only way you can enforce it is with a penalty system afterward. Really at that point, it's not effective. It's a difficult rule to try to make work."
Do you support NASCAR's new caution-related rules?
Even so, NASCAR seems committed to implementing and enforcing these rules. Safety measures have improved substantially over the past several years, and this is yet another step in that direction.
Although the rules may be met with some resistance initially, there is no question they are in the best interest of the drivers. There is no logical reason to approach other cars on foot, and these rules take that type of decision out of the drivers' hands.
If nothing else, NASCAR deserves credit for being proactive and taking steps toward preventing a potential tragedy.
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