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Cup Drivers Tackling The Art Of Blocking

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 6 2019
NASCAR’s new rules package is having a big effect on the art of blocking in the Cup Series. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Blocking is illegal in many racing series, but not in NASCAR. And Friday at Daytona International Speedway several drivers said it’s a maneuver that has become common due to the current rules package.

“I think there is a lot of blocking that’s accepted, especially in today’s world of racing, especially in stock car racing this year, maybe more than ever, with the 550 (horsepower) rules,” Monster Energy NASCAR Cup champion Joey Logano said Friday. “It’s something we’re all getting used to. The guy that’s getting blocked has to give unless you both crash. At that point, if you’re willing to make that move, you have to be willing to take the punches with it. 

“Those risks will be taken any time, whether it’s early in the race, definitely at the end of the race where those blocks will happen. We’re all gonna do it because it’s just the way we race these days and you just have to be ready for the repercussions of that action one way or the other.”  

Blocking became a topic of discussion after an incident involving William Byron and Brad Keselowski during Thursday’s Cup practice. Byron was in front of Keselowski when the 2012 Cup champion tagged the 21-year-old driver in the left rear and then the right rear. Byron didn’t hit anything, but the damage to his Chevrolet required the team use its backup car.

After the incident, Keselowski said in an interview with NBC that he had “a big run and it put me in a position where I had to lift and I keep telling these guys I’m not lifting.”  

Hendrick Motorsports had to bust out a new car for William Byron after his old car was punted by Brad Keselowski during practice in Daytona. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Jim Fluharty)

“I was just trying to send a message that I am not lifting,” Keselowski said. “I’m tired of getting wrecked at the plate tracks. I’ve been wrecked four of the last five races; quite honestly, because I let people pull moves like that on me. They’re all watching. They know.” 

 There were those who thought Keselowski’s move was “extreme” for practice, but noted it was the norm in a race. Byron talked to Keselowski about the incident Thursday night, but it was evident the two still didn’t agree.

“I really appreciate him talking to me because that kind of helped just understand where he was coming from,” Byron said Friday, “but I still feel like it was unnecessary for practice.

 “I’ve seen guys block four lanes down the backstretch. I feel like that’s definitely a reason to get crashed. But I was running in the lower middle part of the track and I entered the bottom of (turns) three and four. The only reason I wasn’t completely on the line was because I got a little bit of a bump from him initially and tried to keep the wheel straight to not turn myself.”

Byron said Keselowski apologized for tearing up his race car and he appreciated it, but he still noted he would “race how people race me.” 

Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson considered Keselowski’s move “avoidable” and “unnecessary”.

“It’s a tricky situation that Brad has put himself in because plate racing is all about blocking,” Johnson said. “And he’s pretty damn good at blocking. That’s where I think he’s put himself in an interesting situation. We’ll see how the next few weeks unfold. 

“I don’t think he sent a message to anybody. I think it was kind of careless and not such a smart move.” 

Kyle Busch said he had never seen Keselowski lift when he was behind him.

“You have to be careful with who you are racing, who you are doing things with and what’s going on,” Busch said. “Tony (Stewart) always kind of said that, too. Years ago I threw a big block on him in 2008 and about ended up on my lid.”

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 6 2019
2 Comments

2 Comments »

  • Al Torney says:

    Kesslowski was wrong any way you look at it. Byron was not blocking him. Brad just plain ran into him. It was stupid. And what is just as stupid is listening to Burton and Jarrett defending him. The man used poor judgement and he knows it. Luckily it didn’t cause a big wreck and Byron did a good job controlling his race car. So now we are to believe it is ok to wreck each other in practice? Crazy.

    How neat that it came back to haunt Brad in Sunday. He ran into Kevin and Kevin didn’t lift when the occasion arose. Just like Edwards a few years ago Brad learned that pay backs are a bitch. I bet some of these guys would change their attitudes if they had to repair those cars come Monday morning.

    Now the Dillon-Boyer deal is different. Austin tried to block and Boyer didn’t lift. I don’t blame him. He had the spot. As always the boys in the booth tried to make excuses For Austin in stead of just admitting the lad just plain screwed up.

  • Bill H says:

    Racing used to be a contest of speed; drive faster than the other guy and win the race. A journalist once asked Dale Sr. how he planned to win a Daytona race and Dale looked at him like he crawled out from under a rock. “I plan to drive real fast,” was he reply.

    Today you win not by driving faster than the other guy, but by slowing him down. Blocking, “side drafting,” and by “pulling the air off his spoiler.” That’s not racing.