NASCAR: Why Drivers Shouldn’t Settle Issues With Their Bumpers


At the FedEx 400 at Dover on Sunday, Martin Truex Jr. had one of the fastest cars in the field, a common occurrence in 2015. When it came to the final restart, he had a shot at passing eventual winner Jimmie Johnson. However, when Johnson’s teammate Kasey Kahne cut down across Truex’s nose, Truex responded after the checkered flag by delivering a shot to Kahne’s rear bumper on the backstretch. It was a small shot, but nonetheless there is a reason why drivers shouldn’t settle their issues with their bumpers.

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When cars are used to settle the score between two drivers, the result is nothing more than embarrassing. Race cars are precision instruments of science, and to see a race car battered because someone is angry is unsettling. It takes away credibility from the sport of auto racing, and considering that auto racing isn’t taken as seriously as it should be in this day and age we can’t have that happen.

Case in point? Bowman Gray Stadium, also known as “The Madhouse.” Why that name? Because a strong portion of the people who come to the track don’t come to see racing, but rather the fights. Fights are plentiful at Bowman Gray, and it isn’t uncommon to see a pair or a trio of cars chasing each other to deliver a stout hit through the infield.

Aside from the fact other people can be put at risk by these actions, battering these cars can seem wasteful to aspiring racers. For every car demolished or battered in such a senseless act, there’s a future driver out there who knows they could take care of that equipment and get the most out of it. By doing that, they’ll save money and countless, headache-inducing hours.

Also, it’s a slap in the face to the guys at the shop. They bust their backs and slave over their machines to provide the best car they can. But hacking over the damage of a wrecked race car is one thing. Working on the damage done by an angry driver is needless and insulting to the crew. It is pointless and it is redundant.

Many will argue the point, saying that the sport was built on such actions. They cite the 1979 Daytona 500 and the ensuing fight between Cale Yarborough and the Allison brothers, Donnie and Bobby. “It’s old school,” is the most used argument they’ll say. Well, if hairs must be split, the 1979 Daytona 500 fight was a fist fight.

The foundation of NASCAR was built around an old-fashioned brawl. It wasn’t a couple of guys chasing each other trying to plant their bumper through their opponent’s gas tank. They used their fists to settle the matter and to be quite honest, that’s a lot more entertaining than beating on each other’s cars. If an issue has to be resolved during or after a race, a face-to-face confrontation is a lot more exciting and drives the point home a lot easier.

That’s one reason respect for Jeff Gordon soared following the 2014 AAA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Obviously he was angry with Brad Keselowski. But instead of bringing home more work for his guys to take care of at the shop, he got out of the car, approached Keselowski, going as far as taking his helmet off, and kicked off one of the most entertaining melee in recent memory. Gordon has always been one to take care of his equipment, and there is no doubt his crew loves him for it.

There are countless other examples, but the bottom line is that settling scores with your bumper is not as effective as settling scores face to face. Granted, violent action is frowned upon and overall should not be taken. But if a driver feels that they’ve been wronged, they need to get out of their car, approach the offending party, and hold court. It doesn’t matter if it is on pit road or in the garage, as long as they don’t act like Keselowski at Charlotte in October of 2014, they should be fine.

With that being said, Truex should have waited until both he and Kahne were out of their cars to discuss that final restart.

Feel free to comment and weigh in below on whether or not scores should be settled out of the race car.

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