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Memo: Make Drivers Pay Own Insurance Bills

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, June 29 2009
Jamie McMurray hammers the wall during Sunday's race at New Hampshire. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Jamie McMurray hammers the wall during Sunday's race at New Hampshire. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

In today’s Monday Morning Memo we find:

* This whole “racing incident” thing has me puzzled.

You know, somebody tags somebody from behind or somebody bashes into somebody from the side and, according to the expert analysis, it’s nobody’s fault. Nothing the driver doing the bumping could do. Just a “racing incident”.

Yes, it is racing, and yes, it is an incident. But it is somebody’s fault when one car runs into another and you would hope that the driver doing the bumping could, in fact, do something about it.

Not talking here about blowing a tire and hitting somebody, or skating on marbles and administering a whack job, or even getting PO’d at somebody and purposely guiding them askew.

Talking here about “Ooops, my bad” contact.

Not being able to keep one’s front bumper off another’s rear bumper, no matter what the speeds involved, would seem to abrase just a bit of the shimmer off of the oft-repeated contention that a series possesses “the best drivers in the world”.

The type of contact referenced here is the type which occurred in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Sunday. The contact which resulted in a low-speed version of The Big One.

In that racing incident, Kyle Busch appeared to clip Martin Truex Jr. from behind. That sent Truex spinning and collected another half dozen drivers or so.

Ah, just a racing incident. Nobody’s fault. Nothing Busch could do to prevent it.

Except, perhaps, exercise better car control, which is what drivers are being paid for in the first place, no?

If Busch was too close or moving too fast to avoid the problem, perhaps he should have been a smidge further away or been going a skosh slower.

Such were the thoughts of Truex, who disagreed with the analysis of TV analysts.

“I’m not sure what happened in front of us,” Truex said. “Either the No. 88 (Earnhardt Jr.) or the No. 2 (Kurt Busch) spun the tires, I’m not sure who it was. But I was just, you know, staying in line doing what I could do to get going and obviously you can’t pass before the start/finish line.

“And I guess Kyle just decided he didn’t want to lift, so I was just an innocent victim today. Someone spun the tires and our lane didn’t go. Kyle just lost his head like he usually does when something bad happens. He decided he wasn’t going to lift; he was going to turn me on the straightaway for no good reason at all. We have a tore up race car.”

So, not just a shoulder-shrug-prompting “racing incident” which took eight cars out of contention?

“No. That is the product of one guy making a mistake. Simple as that,” Truex said.

Truex is normally a chiller. Stays calm, drives well, sells product.

But after his racing incident, there he was standing on the track doing a wild-man thing at Busch and threatening to pitch his helmet at the offending car.

Nothing Busch could do? Truex begged to differ.

“If people decide they aren’t going to lift when the guy in front of them spins the tires, where are you going to go? You can’t pass until the start finish line. We are at a track here, this isn’t Pocono or Michigan. The front straight away isn’t 30-car lengths wide. People get checked up. You just have to chill out and wait until you can race them. I don’t race on a restart basically with 150 laps to go or whatever it was. There was no reason for it. Our car is tore up and I am pissed about it.”

It seems that Mark Martin, at 50 years old, can keep his front bumper off the rear bumper of the guy ahead of him no matter the speed or circumstance and don’t we love it.

Hey, stuff happens in racing. Much of that stuff can be prevented and fans treated to a better show if the best drivers in the world would showcase those talents on a more regular basis.

Memo to self: Don’t even bring up ARCA.

* Following the weekend race, there was that talk yet again. The new cars the series is using do not make for exciting racing. There is very little passing and races turn into what one driver called “a procession”.

Bring back the old cars.

The thing is, the series in question is IndyCar, the car in question was the Dallara and the driver doing the talking was race-winner Scott Dixon.

Just a scant few years ago, IndyCar put on the best show in racing. Passing, dicing and oh those wonderful finishes at places like Kansas, Texas and Chicago.

But now, the series makes Cup look exciting.

Saturday’s race at Richmond – Richmond for God’s sake – was putting people to sleep and not because it was run at night. So dull was it that Dixon and other drivers were apologizing to fans afterward.

The cars underwent some tweaking a couple years back. Well-meaning tweaking. But it seems that as part of the tweak, excitement was cut away and left on the shop floors.

The Indy Racing League has noticed just as have the fans. And Brian Barnhart, president of racing and competition for the league, always seems to come through with solutions. The guess here is he will again as a whole lot depends on it.

Memo to self: No wing or splitter for the wife’s car.

* No, TNT NASCAR-race anchor Bill Weber did not miss Sunday’s broadcast from New Hampshire because he was hiking the Appalachia Trail on Sunday. Nor was he in mourning for the King of Pop.

TNT would not comment on why Weber was MIA, saying network policy does not allow for commenting on personnel moves.

But word out of Loudon was that Weber had a loud, public dust-up in a Manchester hotel.

Memo to self: Check those reservations carefully; as though your job depended on it.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, June 29 2009
3 Comments

3 Comments »

  • Leon says:

    I agree with Martin Truex’s analysis of the way ol Kylie Busch restarted. Busch didn’t lift like cars in front of him did. In fact he stuck his nose into a hole that wasn’t big enough for a VW Beetle to fit into! Consequently, clipping and spinning Truex into the outside retaining wall and collecting numerous other cars. There is another pedal of the floor besides “the loud pedal”, Kyle!!

    Great article!

    • Jim Pedley says:

      Leon, precisely the point. There are two pedals – three counting the clutch – and professional race-car drivers should know how to use them all. Great point.

  • D Jones says:

    Jim,
    I agree about the insurance issue. Why NASCAR didn’t penalize KyB for causing that wreck is beyond me. Had he stayed in line the worst that would have happened is that he would have hit Truex straight and not caused him to turn.

    Funny comment about Weber.