Yellow Line Rule or No Yellow Line Rule?
I bid you welcome gentle readers, and as always, a very cordial greeting goes out to our assigned reader of all things NASCAR on this cool and cloudy day (Welcome change) in the hills of North Georgia.
You’ve probably noticed there has been a lot of talk lately about the “Yellow Line Rule” that NASCAR initiated on what we used to call “plate tracks”, those being Daytona and Talladega. How about you, gentle readers? Are you “fer” it or “agin” it?
NASCAR thought they had a reason for it when it was established, though we’d been running those tracks for many years without it before that happened. In going back and reviewing several instances of yellow-line penalties, which I won’t bore you with at this time as I’m sure you’ve seen more than you cared to already, one thing strikes me over and over.
I’ve read the rule and understand it, though that is not to say that I like it. The problem, as I see it, is that there is a total lack of consistency in enforcing it! More times than not, the driver that is obviously forced below the line is the one that gets penalized, while the forcer goes on to race unhindered. That is flat wrong!
Then we have the “favorite son” syndrome. A driver goes below the line, completes a pass and comes back on track. NO penalty! (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) In another instance, Joey Logano forces Chase Elliott below the line. Chase rides there for a time before returning to the track. NO penalties issued on either driver.
The rule clearly says you cannot go below the yellow line to advance your position. That is ignored as often as it’s punished. It also says it’s a penalty if you force another driver below the line. That also happens frequently and is seldom called. One gets the impression that either NASCAR doesn’t understand the rule or that (perish the thought) they play favorites.
As with the two separate instances this past weekend at Talladega, NASCAR will remind us that it’s a judgement call, which is clearly at their discretion. In that case, I vote to do away with judgement calls entirely.
In another glaring instance, we have Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards nearing the wire. Carl throws a block and attempts to force Brad below the line. Brad refuses to go there and pushes back. Brad wins the race and Carl flies into the catch fence injuring several spectators in the bargain. In that case, the yellow line rule CAUSED the wreck and ensuing injuries.
There was a big question mark on a penalty to Denny Hamlin that cost him a win in the Bud Shootout or whatever they were calling it that year. Penalty is “supposed” to be for advancing your position while down below the line. Denny was the LEADER at the time and was still the leader afterwards. Just going there, and he had a bit of help that was not judged forcing, is not a penalty in and of itself. Denny’s win was taken away. WHY? This to me is reminiscent of the “Pass in the Grass” by Dale Earnhardt on Bill Elliott. It never was a pass as Dale was in front the whole time.
We’ve seen drivers penalized for going below the line when to stay above it would obviously have caused a multi-car wreck-fest! IF… and that’s a BIG if… NASCAR could be consistent in how and for what the penalties occur, it would be livable, but that has never been the case. The directions in which they’ve gone are many and varied.
With that in mind, my thought would be that it harms more than it helps. Things like the Keselowski – Edwards melee would not happen. I’ve heard folks from NASCAR defending it on the grounds that it stops “Big Ones” from happening. I don’t know what they are watching, but we saw THREE very Big Ones on Monday. My answer to that is, they happen anyway. They are the stepchild of restricted engines that tie all cars together in a high-speed mass. One tiny thing goes wrong and Mayhem rules… and I don’t mean the guy on TV. All of that has nothing to do with the yellow line!
My summation then would be, if you can’t issue the penalties properly, and that has been proven over and over again, then just drop the rule, erase the yellow line and end all conversation about it. It doesn’t work and for sure and certain, it doesn’t stop the big wrecks.
I apologize if this piece is a bit short this week. It’s been the week from Hell and I’m hoping it’s over. Didn’t think I’d even get a chance to write this much. Now let’s go to our Classic Country Closeout, and this week we have another collection of awesome Country from long, long ago. I hope you all enjoy this one!
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!