Is Blocking in NASCAR Okay?

Formula 1 and Indycar both have strict rules against blocking while NASCAR has none…but should they? People argue that F1/Indycar need blocking rules because of how dangerous wheel-to-wheel contact could be for those open wheel cars but if you look, blocking can be just as dangerous in stock car racing. 3x NSCS champion Tony Stewart has brought this issue to the forefront of all our minds with his recent tirade against Joey Logano who blocked him down to the grass on the final restart at Auto Club Speedway last weekend.

Oct 5, 2012; Talladega, AL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Tony Stewart (14) , Dale Earnhardt Jr (88) and Kasey Kahne (5) are involved in a last lap crash during the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

When Tony Stewart tried to block Michael Waltrip during the final lap at Talladega last year, it triggered a massive 25 car pileup where Stewart flipped over and Dale Earnhardt Jr. suffered a concussion forcing him to sit out two races. Another instance of blocking that is still very fresh in our minds is the horrendous last lap wreck in the Nationwide race earlier this year at Daytona. Regan Smith tried to impede Keselowski in his attempt to pass him for the win which caused a big crash that sent Kyle Larson’s car airborne with his engine and other major pieces of debris piercing the catch fence injuring near 30 fans.

In retrospect, one could say that if there were blocking rules, those incidents would have never taken place. With that being said, should NASCAR consider implementing a set of rules to stop blocking much like its open wheel counterparts? Some say definitely, others say they could to an extent while some say there should be no rules regarding blocking whatsoever. My opinion would be the latter if you were wondering…

I’ve heard a small contingent of fans say that NASCAR needs to institute such polices but that would be a disaster if they opted to do that. I personally believe any rules hindering drivers efforts to protect their position on the race track shouldn’t exist to begin with. I watch open wheel races and every time a driver comes under pressure from a fellow competitor,  they get to choose to either take the inside lane into a corner or the outside to protect their spot and are helpless to defend any other way. Also, NASCAR has enough trouble policing restarts and the yellow line rule so the last thing we need to do is throw a blocking rule into the mix. That would just add more unneeded confusion and controversy.

Can you imagine a NASCAR race where you aren’t allowed to defend your position any more than simply picking a lane; that would be terrible! Don’t get me wrong, I am a big open wheel fan and to prevent the almost inevitable airborne crashes that would ensue, they need these rules. I understand that they are necessary in some forms of racing but that doesn’t mean I have to like them.

Lastly, enforcing such rules in NASCAR would be practically impossible with how much battling there is in a race at any given time. NASCAR races have more passing in 10 laps than most F1 races have in the whole event which is why the FIA can manage such rules with little hassle. Fortunately, it doesn’t look like NASCAR would ever consider adapting those kinds of rules. Blocking is and always has been a part of racing and wrecks are sometimes an unfortunate outcome but outlawing a driver’s right to defend their position is not the answer.

This sport is very safe but there are still weaknesses like tracks that have exposed concrete walls or the gaps in pit road which put Mark Martin in a very dangerous situation last year and of course there is the issue with debris ripping through catch fences. By the way, there is a 4 foot gap in the backstretch wall at Talladega that is pure guard rail instead of safer barrier…I am dreading  the day a car finally finds that spot. There are always improvements to be made, this is a work in progress and everyone knows that. No matter what we do though, you can never make a sport where 43 men and woman race 3,500lb stock cars at 200mph 100% bullet proof. There will always be accidents where people get hurt which is a dark and sad part of all forms of racing that you can’t ever fully prevent but trying to control how the racers drive isn’t going to solve anything. Like the late great Dale Earnhardt once said, “It ain’t always the one with the fastest car, it’s the one who refuses to lose.”

Topics: NASCAR, Nationwide Series, Sprint Cup Series, Tony Stewart

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  • Pingston

    Please, if you’re going to write, learn the language.

    You wrote: “those incidents would of never took place”

    You meant “those incidents wouldn’t have taken place” or even “those incidents would’ve never taken place” (or “those incidents would have never taken place”) but what you wrote is not close to being English.

    Please re-read your writing and challenge your own wording. Your ability to communicate will improve.

    Lots of other errors, especially involving possessives and punctuation. Your content is generally worthy, but not your presentation.

    Tony didn’t touch the infield last week. He was free to do so. He ended up 22nd so he was obviously in over his head and Logano did exactly the right thing and far more artfully than Tony did in Alabama by avoiding the wrecking of the field.

    • http://billsandiego.blogspot.com Bill H

      Tony ended up 22nd because of later tire problems. He was not “in over his head.” Logano did not “avoid wrecking the field,” he merely avoided Tony passing him. You may know English, but your racking knowledge could use some work.

  • Patrick McDonald

    If blocking was illegal Dale Earnhardt most likely would be alive today. He was blocking in the Daytona 500 for Michael Waltrip and his son, something he never did until that day. Except for that race Dale Earnhardt always raced to win, not block.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jed.clampett.9235 Jed Clampett

      Dalr Earnhardt Sr. died because NASCAR never should have let him race after the numerous concussions and physical injuries he recieved especially in the last five years he raced.
      Like a classic ironman,Sr. raced in EXTREME PAIN and that extreme pain caused him to not fuly secure the belts that would have saved his life due the increased pain they caused him when they were fully tightened.
      That is why a seemingly minor impact killed one of the greatest NASCAR racers of all time.
      And in no small part,we fans,in our selfish urge to see our greatest racing heros race in such a state of blatantly ill heath-helped kill Dale Earnhardt Sr.
      If we, fans said together-look we don’t want see you dead-stay out of the car until your health returns-like Dale Jr. did recently-Dale Sr. would likely still be alive.
      So,in no small part-we,as fans share alot of the blame too.
      Which really stinks because the old man deserved to see his grandchildren grow up.
      3 Forever.

  • http://twitter.com/dagsboro1 steve swartz

    The best way to defend your position is be faster than the guy behind you. If your not get out of the way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jed.clampett.9235 Jed Clampett

    Like it or not,blocking is a part of ALL racing.
    When a series uses blue -must let pass-flags to stop it -they stop the racing too.
    The racer who blocks too much,slows himself down so someone else will get by him.
    Happens everytime.
    And there a huge difference between blocking at the front and driving a guy onto the bottom of the track from the side.
    Logano’s block on Stewart was totally from the front of Stewart’s car and therefore just racing for position.
    No matter how much ‘someone’ cries about that.
    WAAAA-WAAAA-WAAA-change my diapy.