Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Speak Your Mind: Two-car drafts vs. pack racing, and the yellow line rule

Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR

With Talladega in the rearview mirror, the racing provided the NASCAR community with a lot to talk about. The biggest issue has been the two-car draft vs. pack racing. Here at Skirts and Scuffs, we decided to tackle the following questions: Which do you prefer: two-car tangos vs. pack racing? Does the new style of racing affect your opinion of restrictor-plate tracks?

Another issue that comes up at restrictor-plate races is the yellow line rule. With Jimmie Johnson's win tying for the closest finish in NASCAR history, it seems like the yellow line rule has taken some of the focus away from the incredible finish itself. So the question is: should NASCAR should drop the yellow line rule? Why or why not?

Here's what our contributors at Skirts and Scuffs had to say:

Holly Machuga: I definitely prefer pack racing. It's just so much more fun to watch! With the two-car tangos, you see a lot of the same drivers with each other, but with pack racing you see a bunch of different drivers working together and it's interesting to see what combinations of drivers and car manufacturers work the best together. In two-car racing you see a lot of teammates working together.

The new style of racing doesn't affect my opinion of the restrictor-plate tracks. I still love tracks like Talladega and Daytona just as much as I used to!

Melissa Wright: Personally, I like pack racing over two-car packs. I think the advantage that the tandem racing has was proven on Sunday by teammates Jimmie Johnson and Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. With those two working together, their spotters and crew chiefs - that's what I believe it takes now to win a plate race. I didn't really see much evidence of manufacturers being a role in the case. From a spectator's point of view, I could see how it would be a little bit "boring," so to speak. That's of course my opinion. It doesn't affect my opinion, I suppose, but I'd rather there truly be one Daytona 500. This is too similar. If the racing is the same, how can fans say they saw "the Big One" if they all look that way at a plate race?

In regards to the yellow line rule: If the rule is implemented they should stick to it. If the driver advances his position for the win by dropping below it, that makes for a bad day for them. "If you're not first, you're last" - Ricky Bobby

Summer Dreyer: After watching two different races this year with the two-car draft, I definitely have to say that it has grown on me. I do still miss some of the pack racing, but the two-car draft provides so many interesting and different strategies. I do hope that after a while we do see the return of 30-car packs with the cars three and four wide, but I definitely think the two-car draft is a blast to watch and I have no complaints if it sticks around. I'm now very much looking forward to Daytona in July.

As far as ditching the yellow line rule, I am very much in favor of it going away. Though I don't feel Johnson did anything illegal on Sunday, he had every right to use that part of the racetrack to make the winning pass. If NASCAR feels there are safety issues with allowing cars to pass below the line, then they need to address the safety of the car itself rather than adding unnecessary controversy. Plus, if safety is an issue, then they need to take a look at the Carl Edwards/Brad Keselowski incident from a couple of years ago. Call me crazy, but I think letting a driver dip below the yellow line to try and win the race is safer than having a 3400 lb. car flying into the grandstands.

Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR
Whitney Richards: I enjoyed the bigger packs we're used to seeing at tracks like Talladega and Daytona. I think it made the races more exciting. Of course, that doesn't mean that I don't think the two-car drafts are all bad. It left a lot of drivers searching for partners who may not have been their teammate. It also gave drivers, like Dave Blaney, a chance to find a good drafting partner and get out front. Let's face it, how many times have we seen Blaney out front lately? I thought it was really cool how the drivers who are usually in the back were able to team up with drivers with better equipment and move toward the front. My biggest problem with the two-car drafts is the safety issue. Matt Kenseth, after being involved in a crash, said that he couldn't see past the car in front of him due to the spoiler. I think if they switched to the clear, plexiglas spoilers like some tracks require, that might solve part of that problem. I just don't like the drivers' safety being compromised.

Now, as far the double yellow line goes, this is twice in the last three years it's really come into focus as the checkered flag waved. I've watched the replay of that last lap from Sunday, and I honestly don't think Johnson did anything wrong there. However, I don't think dropping the rule about passing below that line would be a good idea. I think it would only cause more trouble than it already has. Drivers would be diving below it to try and block the driver behind them and it could cause a major crash. I think, for now, the rule needs to stay as it is.

Unique Hiram: As the type of car has changed (COT), I think it is only appropriate that the style of racing has been evolving with it. Although I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the pack racing from the previous years, it has been interesting to see the choice of drafting partners that various drivers had to choose with the new style of restrictor-plate racing. I think the “two-car tandem” has actually been great to see because it has forced the drivers to figure out who they can work best (e.g. teammate or newfound ally) with in order to either win the race or garner a great finish.

In regards to the yellow-line rule, I think that it should remain intact; otherwise, there will be some over-anxious drivers trying to take some possible unfortunate risks. Granted all the drivers are out there to ultimately win races, but there should still be some rules that will ensure the most amount of safety especially with restrictor-plate racing. Also, this rule definitely showcases the driving skills of these phenomenal athletes – case in point: Jimmie Johnson/Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Rebecca Kivak: I admit I prefer the pack racing to the two-car drafts. In the packs, I liked how the drivers could duck in and out of the lines to advance position, and how some drivers would start lines to race for the win. The swift movements among the cars were exciting to watch. With the two-car drafts, I don't like how strung out the field gets during the restrictor-plate races. Also with the two-car tangos, the conditions haven't been favorable for drivers to make those last-moment slingshot moves to take the win.

With that said, however, the tandem racing has still allowed for lots of lead changes and a variety of drivers still able to challenge for the lead. We've seen drivers who would normally run in the back be able to hook up with some of the best in the sport and go on to lead laps or get great finishes. As the drivers work to see whether they run better with teammates or new partners, it's been fun to watch, and listening to the drivers on each other's scanners has been informative and entertaining. We're still able to see multiple cars challenge for the win, leading to Sunday's thrilling finish. Whether it's pack racing or the two-car tandems, I still think restrictor-plate racing is some of the most unpredictable and exciting racing you will see.

I've looked at the replays and stills of Jimmie Johnson's finish, and while he was on the line, he didn't go below it. He may have gained momentum but he didn't actually make the pass while in that spot; it looked like he came off the yellow line before passing Mark Martin, which is legal. As for the yellow line rule itself, I've thought a lot about this. If NASCAR removes the rule, I think a lot of drivers would try to use that area to pass for the win and it could cause more chaos, as some drivers might be pushed or spun out of the way and either into the grass or the rest of the field. I think we might see more torn-up racecars than we usually do at the restrictor-plate tracks just from drivers trying to use all the ground they can to go for the win. Therefore, my position is that the rule stay in place.

Amy McHargue: I enjoy both styles of racing. I feel that the two-car draft gives some variety to the way races are run on oval tracks. Smaller tracks still have pack racing - it works best there. With the restrictor plates present at superspeedways having a different style of racing that "works best" gives drivers an opportunity to show their skills in a different way - finding the other driver on the track with a set up that will complement their own and get the pair of cars to the front. For years I have heard people complaining that "all the races are the same." With the discovery that at some tracks, two cars are better than one we now have pairs racing for diversity among other ovals and road courses. It gets me excited to see how the drivers respond to this pairs racing - like the fans it seems some love it, some hate it, and some are left not sure how they feel about it.

Personally, I think they should do away with the yellow-line rule. If the surface is there, it was made to drive on - have at it, boys.

0 comments :

Post a Comment