April 5, 2011
NASCAR: Make rules, stick to 'em
By DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - In the aftermath of Sundayís NASCAR Sprint Cup Tumís fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway Jimmie Johnson was jumping up and down like a spanked school boy complaining about being hit with a speeding-on-pit-road infraction that most likely cost him a win.
And NASCAR was digging in its heels, saying everyone knows the speed limit and when a driver breaks it, heís going to get hit with a penalty whether it be a five-time champion like Johnson or a backmarker like Dave Blaney.
The problem, of course, is that like almost very rule that NASCAR brings into effect the speeding rule is neither black nor white but some shade of grey.
NASCAR, for example, declared that the pit road speed limit at Martinsville was 30 m.p.h. and that Johnson was clocked at 35.53 m.p.h. as he entered his pit stall. So it would seem that NASCAR had a clear case to punish the No. 48 Chevrolet team.
Johnson subsequently agreed with the call.
But not so fast ó so to speak ó because NASCAR gives drivers a 5 m.p.h. buffer.
That means the speed limit is actually 35 m.p.h., give or take a tenth here or a tenth there, so Johnsonís infraction becomes not so cut and dried.
The solution, of course, is for NASCAR to post a speed limit and stick to it.
Until it does, drivers like Johnson will have every right to complain loud and long about penalties.