Woody: Judgment Calls Are A Part Of Racing
Larry Woody | Senior Writer
Judgment calls have always been part of NASCAR and will be till Judgment Day.
Aric Almirola learned that hard lesson last Saturday at Talladega.
He also learned that there are different definitions of “below the line.”
Under NASCAR’s rules drivers aren’t allowed to go below the yellow warning line to make a pass at Talladega. Therefore Aric was understandably confused after Kyle Busch beat him on the last lap of the Mountain Dew 250 truck race by dropping below the yellow line to make the winning pass.
Aric would discover that are different definitions. There’s the Webster dictionary definition and there’s NASCAR’s definition. And then there are qualifiers.
NASCAR’s definition is often qualified by an “except…”
According to the NASCAR rule, no driver can pass below the yellow line … except.
Except when he’s forced down there.
Or except when he’s trying to regain control of his vehicle.
Or except after 3:42 p.m. (CST) on a Saturday.
Or except when the wind’s out of the east.
Or except when Miss Sprint Cup’s not grinning.
Or except when a green truck is on the track.
Or except following an early frost.
Or except in a month with an R.
Or except during a mid-term election year.
Or except during possum season.
Or except when NASCAR, by golly, says it can.
The latter supersedes everything else.
It’s always been that way and it will always continue to be that way.
NASCAR is a sport built on judgment calls and ruled by judgment calls. That’s why the rule book is written with vanishing ink. NASCAR gets to decide what’s legal and what’s illegal, what’s permissible and what’s not permissible.
If someone doesn’t like the rules they can take their ball and go home.
To be fair, most other sports are the same way. Every NFL game hinges on a ref’s judgment call or non-call.
A holding penalty, for example, can wipe out a touchdown and alter the game’s outcome. Holding can be called on virtually every play because it occurs on virtually every play. The refs usually flag only the most flagrant. What’s the definition of “flagrant?” It’s a judgment call.
The most recent NASCAR example seemed a bit more, well, defined. Thousands of witnesses testified that Busch’s tires went below the line. Not even Matlock could argue otherwise.
But then comes the “except” factor.
Did Kyle HAVE to dive below the line to maintain control, thereby making an illegal pass legal? Yep, in NASCAR’s judgment he did. And NASCAR’s judgment is the only one that counts.
Enjoy your new dictionary Aric.
– Larry Woody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments