Danica,

I’m coming to you as a fan to try to relay some information that you may already know, but haven’t put into practice yet.

After this weekend’s race at Kansas you’ve gotten blasted pretty hard on social media and the public perception of you isn’t great. The interviews and tweets that you sent out after your race ending crash that was caused by Joey Logano and collected and injured Aric Almirola have hurt what was already a bad perception of you and your season.

Let’s start with the interview. I’m willing to give you a little bit of a pass here because it doesn’t sound like you had seen the replay of the incident, had been given any information about what caused it, nor knew the severity of the injury that Aric, a former teammate, had sustained. You answered the questions that were being asked but here’s the thing that you’re gonna get dinged on. After you mentioned Aric you immediately continued to talk about yourself and your bad luck.

I get that you’re frustrated with your season and recent results. 5 DNFs this year and 3 out of the last 4 races. It’s not been a good year. Let’s be honest, it’s actually the worst season you’ve had to date. At that moment though, the frustrations should’ve been kept to off-air conversations and not the interview. Watch Joey’s interview. He was concerned about you *before* he got out of the car, whereas you wanted to go kick his ass. Did you really think that he dumped you in the fastest part of the track? But I digress.

Next, you sent out this tweet:

A fan corrected it for you:

Now, this you can’t be defended on. You’ve seen the replay. You know it was a part failure that caused the accident. You know that Aric was cut out of his car and was injured. It’s possible that you knew before the rest of the world that he had a broken back. While you weren’t at fault for the wreck, bringing up your bad luck at this time is bad form. Internalize or discuss offline the problems with your luck and your results. Don’t put the focus on yourself.

Look at Joey’s tweet by comparison:

Simple. To the point. Compassion for his competitor. Joey is really running for points and a championship. The crash hurt his night and standings in the points. He was likely very upset about that too, but his first concern was to you and Aric. Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Dale Jr, etc all had well wishes. None of them mentioned their finish or anything about themselves.

I can take it a step further into a non-racing related tweet. Your Mother’s Day wish to your mom the next day:

You wished your mom a Happy Mother’s Day, then again returned the focus to you. Maybe I’m reaching here, but the point remains.

It’s not all about you.

You’re a polarizing figure in racing. Your gender and the fact that you are breaking into a male dominated world means you get more scrutiny than you otherwise should. So you have to mind your p’s and q’s when you speak and when you tweet. In some cases you are in a damned if you, damned if you don’t situation, which stinks, but it is life.

Kyle Busch and Joey Logano are also polarizing figures in the sport. People love to hate on them both. Here’s the difference. They have results to back up their attitudes. They are truly competing each week. They eat, sleep, breathe and live racing all the time. They put in the work. They’ve paid their dues and earned the right to complain. You haven’t. You have been given tremendous opportunity time and time again and have little to show for it. Yes, you have been in the wrong place at the wrong time and been the victim of targeting once in a while (James Buescher at Fontana is one,) but you give interviews with the arrogance of a champion when you are nearly last in the standings. There are 35 drivers in Cup right now that have run all 11 races. You are in front of 2 of them.

We’re past the point of bad luck. Something isn’t working here and I have a strange suspicion that it’s you. Put in the time to be with your team and really honestly work at being faster and better on the track. Stop trying to fight everyone and stop complaining when you don’t get the results that you want. Do work and the results will follow. Look at Ricky as an example. In your own words you said he’s one of the hardest working people you know, constantly working to improve himself. When he’s been wrecked out of something, he’s not whining about it. He picks himself up and works harder next week.

Now, you probably don’t care about my opinion. But it’s not one that I hold alone. If you really want to be a racer and you really want to win and be successful in NASCAR and not flop like most open wheel converts you’re going to have to prove it. You’re going to have to work to win over fans and sponsors. If you don’t want to race anymore though, if your heart just isn’t into it and you don’t want to do the work, then announce that you will retire at the end of the season. Nobody will fault you for it. NASCAR is tough. Many before you have tried and failed. Don’t hold a seat that could be used for someone who wants to win though and is willing to put in the work to do it.

Ok. ¬†I was wrong. ¬†This isn’t going to be Danica’s best season ever. ¬†This might actually be her worst and her last in NASCAR.

We know that Stewart-Haas Racing can build fast cars. ¬†Even with the switch to Ford and the learning curve there, the other three cars for Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer have been competitive. ¬†Kurt Busch won the Daytona 500 and while they haven’t been at the level they were last year, they are still very good.

Except for Danica.

Let’s be honest. ¬†She’s just horrible. ¬†She’s getting outrun every single week by teams with less resources and drivers with less experience.

Nate Ryan, commentator for NBC Sports, said in an interview on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the new points/stage system shows how you run through the race, not just how you finish. ¬†Some thought this might be a benefit for drivers like Danica, where she could use strategy to win a stage and get some points, but instead it’s showing the truth. ¬†She’s running in the very back of the pack every week. ¬†She’s running 30th or worse nearly every week and if she’s not caught up in a wreck (which isn’t always her fault) she might gain some spots due to attrition. ¬†She’s not even remotely competitive.

The other drivers don’t respect her. ¬†The fans have lost interest. ¬†I’m pretty sure the team doesn’t even respect her or care. ¬†I’m pretty sure SHR is just riding out the contract year and hoping to break even on destroyed cars and minimal purse winnings.

I thought that maybe she’d have a fresh start this year and be competitive with it being a contract year. ¬†I thought wrong. ¬†She’s more interested in her off the track activities like pranking twitter with April Fools engagement jokes, getting her clothing line, yoga video and winery off the ground than she is with racing.

This will be her last year racing, probably in any form.  She will hang on to some bit of celebrity with her other ventures, but will fade into obscurity.

Unfortunately she’s likely set back any progress for drivers to convert from Indy to NASCAR or for women to break into the sport. ¬†It’s sad really, because if she had been successful then she could’ve paved the way for more women in the sport, but now it will be a long time before anyone takes a chance on a woman in NASCAR.

She’s also proven the haters right. ¬†I hate that because they were against her from the start. ¬†I’m sure there were some of them in the garage that felt the same way, that she had no business being there and was taking a ride away from someone who deserved it.

I had thought maybe she’d show some improvement here this year and maybe move to Penske or Ganassi and get a fresh start with a new team, but nobody will hire her now. ¬†Her performance doesn’t warrant it and she can’t get/keep sponsors like she used to, so she’s a liability and not an asset to anyone. ¬†I think some of this apathy from her team is likely the result of the Nature’s Bakery fallout. ¬†SHR is likely losing money on her, especially since Nature’s Bakery didn’t pay. ¬†Of course, that fallout is no surprise because the CEO of Nature’s Bakery had posted on Instagram that she had no talent.

It’s unfortunate really. ¬†I’m going to keep rooting for her, but I’m no longer surprised when she fails.

Why @danicapatrick will have a good 2017

Posted: February 26, 2017 in NASCAR

The 2017 NASCAR season is upon us and there have been a lot of changes to the rules and the sport to digest. ¬†There’s a new scoring system, including the introduction of stages that pay points, new aero packages, new rules about fixing broken cars and a new sport sponsor in Monster Energy.

Little of that though, will have an impact on Danica’s year I believe. ¬†While she may be able to score some points in the stages due to strategy, the rule changes should have little impact on Danica’s year.

Here are a couple of reasons why I think Danica will have a good year in 2017.

  1. She’s in a contract year. ¬†Athletes typically will perform better in a contract year. ¬†If she plans on continuing racing, she’ll need to either prove to Stewart-Haas that she’s worth keeping or prove to another team that she’s worth picking up. ¬†She’ll also need to attract more sponsors, although that’s an ongoing thing for any driver.
  2. Stewart-Haas switched to Ford. ¬†While she’s never driven for anyone other than Chevrolet in her NASCAR career, switching to Ford should be an immediate upgrade. ¬†Stewart-Haas has a new engine relationship and now will be making their own chassis, whereas before they were getting them from Hendrick. ¬†When Danica switched crew chiefs and teams with Kurt Busch she was using second class equipment, often rehashed from old cars. ¬†Kurt Busch had been using that equipment before and had mediocre results, then immediately became competitive when he switched to the newer equipment. ¬†Giving Danica new, quality equipment will help her be more competitive.
  3. She’s on the second year with Billy Scott. ¬†Consistency with crew chiefs have been a problem for Danica at Stewart-Haas. ¬†She did a partial schedule with Greg Zippadelli, then did nearly a full season with Tony Gibson before being switched to Daniel Knost, who lasted a year with poor results and then switched to Billy Scott. ¬†Having that relationship for a second year, along with the pit crew, can only help.
  4. She’s starting Speedweeks positively. ¬†She finished 4th in the Clash, largely by staying out of trouble and 6th in her Duel, again, by staying out of trouble. ¬†We’ve seen in the past drivers that have crashed out of every race during Speedweeks, Danica included, and that just gets the year off to a crummy start. ¬†By keeping her cars clean in practices and the prelim races is a confidence boost.

Now, with all of that being said am I picking her to win the Daytona 500, a few other races, making the Chase playoffs and winning a championship? ¬†Nope. ¬†Not at all. ¬†I think she’s going to be slightly more competitive than previous years, mostly running and finishing between 10th and 20th. ¬†I think she’ll be in the group with Jamie McMurray, Aric Almirola, Paul Menard and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ¬†She will run with them mid-pack for the most part and have a few races that she may run top 10 for a bit and will be somewhat competitive. ¬†I don’t think she’s going to win a race, but she may win a couple of stages, pick up some top 10s and maybe a top 5 if the circumstances play out right.

All in all I think she’ll end up finishing about 16th-20th in the standings this year. ¬†I don’t think she’ll make the playoffs, although anything is possible. ¬†It should be a better year to be a Danica fan.

This is a difficult blog for me to write. ¬†For many years I’ve been following Danica Patrick in both IndyCar and NASCAR. ¬†It was thrilling to see the close calls and competitive racing she had in IndyCar, along with the eventual win she had at Motegi. ¬†It was exciting when she announced that she was going to try out NASCAR in what was then known as the Nationwide Series. ¬†She had an exciting debut in an ARCA race, followed up by her first NASCAR start at Daytona. ¬†She had a near pole win one year, followed up by an actual pole win at Daytona the next year. ¬†Victory Lane eluded her, but she was on a part time schedule to start and hey, many others had come from open wheel racing to NASCAR and hadn’t done nearly as well.

She’s had a few races at Daytona in the Nationwide Series that were notable, but, as restrictor plate races often go, she was caught up in wrecks often not of her own doing. ¬†Still there was hope.

When the announcement was made that she would be joining Stewart-Haas Racing and following in the steps of Tony Stewart and working with his team and former crew chief Greg Zippadelli the hope continued. ¬†She would have excellent equipment, a strong sponsor, teammates in Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman that both had open wheel backgrounds and a solid crew behind her. ¬†Again, a part time schedule to start at some of NASCAR’s toughest tracks, just to get her some seat time. ¬†We as fans were frustrated when she was running at the back of the pack, literally qualifying dead last in many cases and running laps down if she wasn’t wrecked out. ¬†However, we were assured that this was all part of the plan. ¬†She was learning, getting time in the car and learning the system. ¬†Turmoil on her Nationwide team with her crew chief getting fired and the team taking on a new direction didn’t help matters much, but the season ended and she was moving on to bigger and better things.

Her first full year Sprint Cup start at Daytona was interesting. ¬†She won the pole (which many say was rigged) and drove her car to the back of the pack in her Duel race to prevent losing her starting spot. ¬†She didn’t lead the first lap of the race, although she did eventually lead a lap, making her one of 13 to lead laps at the Indy 500 and Daytona 500. ¬†After running 3rd throughout most of the race, she got shuffled back in the last lap and finished 8th. ¬†Not bad, so there was hope. ¬†But Daytona isn’t like the rest of the season.

She would go on to run pretty awful with the exception of Martinsville, where she raced her way up to 12th. ¬†Otherwise though, she was in the low 30s, high 20s, finishing laps down and not competitive at all. ¬†Towards the end of her first full season, her team was swapped with Kurt Busch’s team and she was given a new crew and crew chief, as well as the hand me down cars that they were salvaging from when Ryan Newman was with the team.

Her year with Daniel Knost as crew chief again was disappointing, but with flashes of decent finishes.  Communication was a struggle, whereas in the offseason it was thought to work well with her technical background coming from IndyCar and his engineering mindset.  While she lagged behind in the 20s and 30s, getting caught up in wrecks with guys like Landon Cassill and David Gilliland, Kurt Busch and her former team were at the front of the field and winning races.

She is on yet another crew chief, and her pit crew, which had won the fastest team in an internal SHR pit crew competition, was swapped out again.  The change is noticeable, because any progress she may make on the track is lost by horrible pit stops and mistakes.  Billy Scott seems unable to unload with a fast car, tweaking it to make it better, and instead rolls off 30th in practice and has to make huge swings to try to the car to live up to the potential of the equipment.

As fans, we are frustrated, especially when Kevin Harvick is one of the fastest on the track each week and winning races and championships. ¬†Kurt Busch is winning races and contending for championships. ¬†Tony Stewart isn’t doing so well, but his personal struggles off track with injuries and legal issues can be contributed to that as well. ¬†After coming back from a back injury he’s running better than Danica has all season long. ¬†We hang our hats on the little things though, like the top 10s at Kansas and Atlanta, only to have them crushed when she returns back to the same track. ¬†We get hopeful that experience and Hendrick power will propel her to a win at Daytona or Talladega, or that her road racing experience will help her at Sonoma or Watkins Glen, but we’re consistently disappointed.

After winning the Most Popular Driver Award in the Nationwide Series she’s not done much from a fan standpoint in the Sprint Cup Series. ¬†She’s won the fan vote a couple of times for the All Star race, save for the time she lost it to Josh Wise, but the entry has mostly been a waste. ¬†Her experiences at both the All Star race and the Sprint Unlimited during Speedweeks have been lackluster to say the least. ¬†She runs last, save for the cars that blow up or get wrecked and isn’t competitive at all.

I don’t like to agree with the detractors, but they are right. ¬†She’s no All Star. ¬†She’s done nothing in NASCAR to be worthy of that moniker.

I understand that NASCAR likes to have her in the races because she brings in a fan base. ¬†It’s good to have diversity and she is still the only woman to have won a closed circuit race in a major national series, which makes her the best female in the sport. ¬†However, she still needs to perform to be in the seat and thusfar, she hasn’t earned it.

I want her to succeed. ¬†I want her to win. ¬†I want to see a turnaround similar to Dale Jr., where he got paired up with a crew chief who demanded more of him and asked him if he wanted to be Dale Jr. or if he wanted to be a winning race car driver. ¬†I want to see selfies in Victory Lane rather than headstands and puppy pictures posted to Instagram. ¬†I don’t want to see her settle for 20th place as a good day. I want her competitiveness on the track to match her popularity. ¬†I want her to stop being a celebrity and really focus on being a racer.

I want her to truly *be* an All Star. ¬†I’m not giving up on her, because I think that as a true fan you have to be there when your driver/team/player sucks as well as when they are doing well, but it’s hard to defend her week in and week out when we see the same thing over and over again.

It’s another season and while we’ve seen some amazing races and finishes in the Sprint Cup Series, we’ve seen Kyle Busch dominate three out of the four races in the Xfinity Series. ¬†After his injury last year, Kyle Busch isn’t running restrictor plate races anymore in Xfinity or the Camping World Truck Series, so of the four races we’ve had, he’s won all three that he’s entered. ¬†This brings up the question/argument about Sprint Cup Drivers racing in the Xfinity Series.

First we have to ask the question of why they are racing? ¬†The majority of these drivers race in multiple formats when they aren’t racing in NSCS on Sundays as well, since they have a passion for racing. ¬†However, those events aren’t NASCAR events, so their regulations are different. ¬†They love racing. ¬†They live for Victory Lane, the trophy and thrill of winning. ¬†For some, pulling double or triple duty can also increase their experience and growth for their NSCS careers.

The main reason they are racing though, is because sponsors and fans want them there.  Sponsors get TV time when they have a popular driver in the car and the fans can see their favorite Cup driver either multiple times in a weekend or for a lower cost than a Cup race.

The Xfinity regulars, at least in public forums like news and twitter, seem to be in favor of having the Cup drivers there because they like the competition. ¬†On the rare occasion they do win a race, they beat a Cup driver or ten to do so. ¬†Cup drivers don’t get points for racing in NXS, so there is still competition among NXS regulars, but they are still missing out on trophies, wins, prize money and exposure.

Often you’ll see dominating performances from the Cup drivers as well. ¬†They win the pole then lead most of the race, if not all of it, with little threat to the lead and coast to Victory Lane, making for a dull event. ¬†As we’ve seen this year, Kyle Busch has dominated so much of the races it’s almost predictable that we’re going to see the same thing week after week if he’s in the race.

I don’t want to restrict the drivers from racing. ¬†They want to race and in some cases, like with Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson and other new-ish drivers to NSCS, the extra laps in NXS can help further their careers. ¬†However, we have to do something to level the playing field.

One of the major advantages that the NSCS drivers have is they have the support of the NSCS team behind them. ¬†Kyle Busch isn’t racing for just anyone. ¬†He’s racing for Joe Gibbs Racing and his pit crew are the same guys that pit for him on Sundays. ¬†When Dale Earnhardt Jr. races for his Jr Motorsports team (which is just Hendrick Motorsports NXS team) he has his same spotter, crew, and at times he had Steve Letarte on the box for him too. ¬†This is the first step to level the playing field.

Anyone who performs a function for a race team in the NSCS may not perform any duties, even if they are different, for a NXS/CWTS team.

That’s a start. ¬†When you’re seeing 11 second vs 14 second pit stops it’s because you have Cup level pit crews doing the work.

Another reason why the Cup drivers are running in NXS is that while they can’t earn driver points for the championship, they can earn owners points and manufacturer points for their respective championship. ¬†There’s plenty of incentive there from the owners and manufacturers to stack the deck with all star rosters to rotate through and win those championships. ¬†Typically the NXS drivers get little to no seat time in those rides. ¬†Step two is take away this incentive.

Any car driven by a driver who has not declared points eligibility in NXS/CWTS is also not eligible to earn owner or manufacturer points.

With some of the incentive by the owners and manufacturers taken away, there will be a greater incentive to put NXS/CWTS regulars in the seats.

This last suggestion is going to be the most controversial I believe. ¬†The major stick and ball leagues have restrictions on the number of franchises you can own in a market. ¬†Mark Cuban, who currently owns the Dallas Mavericks, could also buy the Dallas Stars, Cowboys or Rangers, but couldn’t own more than two at the same time. ¬†NASCAR has a similar rule in that you can’t field more than four teams at a time. ¬†However, this rule is a per series rule. ¬†As the NSCS drivers have the backing of NSCS teams, they carry a significant advantage to the teams that don’t have that backing, further creating a divide of the haves and have nots.

Limit ownership of NASCAR teams to no more than four in any one series, and no more than one in any subsequent series.  

If Joe Gibbs Racing wants to field an NXS or CWTS entry, they can do so, but only one. ¬†What driver they put in that car is their choice. ¬†It could be Kyle Busch or Erik Jones. ¬†There are pros and cons to each. ¬†However, this doesn’t prevent Kyle Busch or Brad Keselowski or Kevin Harvick or any other NSCS driver from starting their own team or hitching a ride with a non NSCS backed team.

I don’t think an outright ban is needed. ¬†I just think we can level the playing field and reduce the incentives for the Cup drivers to drop down into the lower series to race.

The rivalry between Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano came to a head this past weekend at Martinsville Speedway and NASCAR leveled a pretty heavy penalty on Matt for his actions, suspending him for two races. ¬†His crime, as many know already, was wrecking Joey Logano, who is a Chase contender and was leading the race, while Matt was 9 laps down and already out of the Chase. ¬†This was in retaliation for Joey spinning Matt out at Kansas a few weeks prior and Matt feeling like he was wrecked by Joey’s teammate, Brad Keselowski, earlier in the race.

Earlier in the race, Danica Patrick and David Gilliland had a similar dustup. ¬†Gilliland bumped Danica while racing for position, sending her out of the groove and into the wall. ¬†Danica got her car repaired and returned the to track 25 laps down. ¬†While circling around the paperclip she came to Gilliland’s car and decided to enact some revenge of her own, bumping him and chasing his car up the track and into the wall. ¬†She wound up on the worse end of it though as she tried to hit him again and he brake checked her, smashing the front end of her car in and ending her day. ¬†Danica was given a $50,000 fine and a 25 point penalty for her actions.

As I write this, word just came out that the suspension was upheld and Matt is moving to final appeal on that.

To me, this is pretty clear cut and NASCAR has drawn the line on what is ok and what isn’t when it comes to “Boys have at it.” ¬†To others though, it’s not, so let me clarify the differences in the incidents and why some got penalized while others didn’t, why the penalties that were assessed were different and past history.

First, with Joey and Matt. ¬†This started at Kansas when towards the end of the race Matt was in the lead and Joey was behind him with a faster car. ¬†Joey gave Matt a tap on the rear and Matt was blocking to hold his lead. ¬†Joey pushed through and didn’t lift and as a result Matt wound up spinning out. ¬†Joey went on to win the race and Matt didn’t advance to the next round of the Chase through points or wins at either Charlotte or Talladega. ¬†(Joey won both of those races as well for the record) ¬†At Talladega Matt felt like Joey brake checked him during a pit stop as well, fueling this feud. ¬†For the spin at Kansas Joey wasn’t assessed any penalties. ¬†This was determined to be a racing incident and acceptable contact. ¬†They were in the final laps and racing for position (the lead) and neither drive was expected to give an inch. ¬†Both were Chase contenders at the time.

Now, for Danica and David. ¬†This has gone on pretty much since Danica entered NASCAR and has been rolling around in the back with the backmarkers. ¬†They have beat and banged on each other routinely, often with Danica getting the worst of it. ¬†At Martinsville though, it started with David feeling like Danica was blocking and he bumped her out of the groove. ¬†They were both racing for position on the lead lap at the time and neither are or were Chase contenders. ¬†She wound up in the wall with right front damage that took some time to repair. ¬†She wound up 25 laps down when she returned to the track. ¬†She was very angry about the incident as it wasn’t the first and was determined to get retaliation. ¬†When she got near Gilliland again she did the same that he had done to her and bumped him up out of the groove. ¬†A difference was that she chased after him after he went into the wall and under caution when he came back around she hit him again.

The incidents were similar, but had some differences. ¬†In both initial instances the drivers were racing for position when the contact occurred. ¬†There was no intent to injure or damage, but simply to move the perceived slower driver out of the way. ¬†This is normal racing and part of “Boys have at it.” ¬†That is why there were no penalties for the initial incidents. ¬†In the retaliations both Danica and Matt were laps down, not racing for position and were out on the track with the sole purpose of wrecking the driver that had wrecked them. ¬†This is the reason for the penalties. ¬†There was an intent to damage and/or injure the other driver and they were not racing for position, but using their car as a weapon. ¬†The reason that Matt’s was harsher than Danica’s is because he was a non-Chase driver who wrecked a Chase contender who was leading the race (and likely would’ve won his fourth in a row, punching his ticket to Homestead for the championship race.)

I am surprised that NASCAR didn’t suspend Matt for the three remaining races to prevent him from disrupting Homestead and expect that it will be reduced to a one race suspension and a fine plus points. ¬†He’ll wind up finishing in 12th place for the season as a result.

Danica and Stewart-Haas Racing have said they will not appeal her penalty.

Historically the penalty to Matt is a bit harsh and I think there’s an example being set in part due to the new format of the Chase. ¬†Matt could’ve very likely cost Joey the chance at a championship with his actions. ¬†Previously Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer got into a similar crash at Phoenix where Gordon lied in wait and crashed Clint out and ended his chances at a championship (although he had a very long shot chance that year) and Gordon was given a $100,000 fine without suspension. ¬†A race suspension wouldn’t have done much there as there was one race left and no chance that Gordon would impact the outcome anymore. ¬†I also feel like Danica likely wouldn’t have gotten a penalty or as harsh of one if Matt hadn’t done what he did. ¬†The blatant targeting of another driver though, can’t be tolerated.

So the question becomes, what is acceptable for retaliation to honor the driver’s code? ¬†You hear all the time that payback will come at a short track, where the speeds are low and the chance for injury is also low. ¬†The answer, again, is fairly simple. ¬†Had Matt and Joey been racing for position and Matt bumped Joey and put him out of the groove and into the wall that would’ve been perfectly ok. ¬†The score would be considered settled and no penalties would be levied. ¬†It would’ve been chalked up as a racing incident and while some bad blood may have still existed between the two drivers, it would be pretty much over at that point. ¬†In 2013 there was bad blood between Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano. ¬†Joey and Denny had a tangle at Fontana early in the season that resulted in Denny hitting a wall and breaking his back. ¬†Later in the year though, at Bristol, Denny was behind Joey and took the opportunity to put him into the wall. ¬†No fines, no penalties. ¬†They were racing for position and Denny got his retaliation.

It’s pretty clear to me how it all works.

I may be late to the conversation, and I know it’s one that has been discussed before, but I felt like addressing again since it’s come to pass.

It’s no secret that many NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers race in non-Cup events regularly. ¬†Some do Xfinity or Camping World Truck Series races. ¬†Some do World of Outlaws. ¬†Some do late models. ¬†Some race in the 24 hours of Daytona, etc. While most of the time these activities don’t interfere with their primary job, racing in the Sprint Cup series, there are times when they do.

Most recently, Kyle Busch, racing in the Xfinity series for Joe Gibbs Racing at Daytona, was involved in a wreck that broke one leg in multiple places and the foot on the opposite leg. ¬†The result was him missing not only the Daytona 500, but many other races as yet to be determined. ¬†It has very likely cost him and his team the opportunity to run for a championship this year and may affect his future ability to race at all. ¬†Kyle often races in the lower stock car and truck series, often doing double or triple duty over the course of the weekend. ¬†He’s a draw for sponsors and fans to those races, but after this incident, is it worth it?

Kasey Kahne is another who races in non Cup races regularly. ¬†He does the dirt tracks in the sprint cars when the opportunity affords itself and has been in a few wrecks doing that, although so far he hasn’t sustained any injuries from it.

Tony Stewart has had his share of issues with extracurricular racing lately. ¬†Two years ago, in a sprint car, he was in a wreck that broke his leg and caused him to miss the rest of the season. ¬†The following season he struggled in the Cup car and didn’t win a race. ¬†That season was also interrupted due to the accident that killed Kevin Ward Jr. and the subsequent litigation that followed. ¬†The start of the 2015 season hasn’t been kind to Tony either, with him falling behind in the standings early and failing to be competitive. ¬†Some of that can be attributed to the car, but the fact remains that he hasn’t been the same since the accident that broke his leg.

Some extracurricular racing pays off well.  A.J. Allmendinger, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson have raced in the Rolex 24 in the past two years and come away with the victory and the Rolex payday.  No harm there right?  Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and others routinely run Xfinity and Truck series races, bringing in fans and sponsors.  Some of that racing allows them to field their own Truck or Xfinity teams, allowing younger drivers the opportunity to run races as well.

While there are drivers chomping at the bit for a first class ride, sliding into a seat due to injury is never what is best for the team. ¬†Once in a while it will pay off well, but for the most part they are filling the seat to keep the car in owners points for the next season. ¬†It’s rarely as competitive as it was before. ¬†This causes problems with sponsors and with the revenue earned by the driver for wins, making the Chase and higher finishing positions. ¬†In football if you lose your starting QB, you probably lost your chance at the playoffs. ¬†In baseball if you lose your starting pitcher or power hitter, you’re going to struggle. ¬†The new Chase format may give Kyle a chance at the Chase, but he would have to get a waiver (probably not an issue,) win a race (could be tough, depending on how many races are left,) and get into the top 30 in points (getting more difficult as each week passes.) ¬†Now NASCAR could skip the top 30 requirement at their discretion if he wins a race, but other than that I think they are preparing for next year.

Now, NASCAR as a sanctioning body doesn’t care what the drivers do. ¬†They like having Kyle Busch in the Xfinity series because it brings fans to those races. ¬†The local short tracks love having Tony Stewart show up for a race. ¬†Again, it generates buzz. ¬†The drivers obviously aren’t going to regulate themselves, regardless of how many times they get hurt. ¬†Tony has said he probably won’t race a sprint car again after the death of Kevin Ward Jr., but that’s a pretty extreme example. ¬†Should the owners and agents put clauses in that limit the activities? ¬†You can race in Xfinity races as long as they aren’t super speedways like Daytona and Talladega? ¬†You can only race in NASCAR sanctioned events? ¬†Also, what about non-racing events? ¬†Denny Hamlin tore his ACL playing basketball in a pickup game. ¬†He didn’t miss any time if I recall, but it was painful for him to even get in and out of the car. ¬†Should Carl Edwards be allowed to do his backflip if he wins? ¬†Could Jimmie Johnson go sky diving or bungee jumping? ¬†These drivers love the thrill of some of these experiences, but should they be limited for their own safety?

It also brings about the question of the crews. ¬†What happens if you lose a pit crew member due to injury? ¬†I’m sure it happens during the normal course of the season, but the Cup crews for these drivers often pit their Xfinity cars too. ¬†Say some rookie Xfinity driver comes barreling down pit lane and takes out your jackman or your fuel man? ¬†Then later you have a slow stop due to their replacement that causes you to lose a race or championship?

I don’t have an answer, but I’d love to hear the debate.