Saturday, August 20, 2011

Is this NASCAR or a schoolyard rumble?

NASCAR's mantra has been "Boys have at it," but I do not think this is what they meant by that phrase:


Upon the conclusion of Saturday's Nationwide Series race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Steven Wallace was met on pit road by the crew chief for the No. 99 team, Jerry Baxter. Baxter leaned into the window of Wallace's car and grabbed him, pulling his hair.

Understanding the fact that Baxter was running on emotion after his driver Patrick Carpentier was eliminated from his final race due to damage sustained in a wreck with Wallace (Carpentier is retiring from racing to spend more time with his family), this is still not an allowable action for a crew chief in NASCAR.

I saw people on Twitter (if you do not tweet during races, you are missing out) saying that Wallace deserved this, after all the wrecks he has caused in his career, but in my opinion, that is not the case. If life was such and everything was an eye for an eye, we would all have targets on our backs. Racing involves wrecking. In no way am I defending Wallace's past wrecks, but everyone deserves a clean slate at some point.

Today Wallace showed that he can race up front and was within the top 5 or 10 throughout most of the race. When the accident with Carpentier occurred, Wallace was attempting to pass Carpentier for position entering the tight space of the hairpin. Carpentier was already committed to his line and attempting to pass the car ahead of him at the same time, making it three wide. To no one's surprise, it did not work. Wallace locked his brakes and went sliding, sending Carpentier around as well. Carpentier later left the race due to the damage sustained to his car and watched a bit of the race from a nearby stand until the pace car picked him up. That was definitely not the way Carpentier wanted to end his racing career.

Interviewed after the confrontation with Baxter, Wallace said, "I thought only girls pulled hair." Wallace handled it well; he did not further incite any fights and should be proud that he walked away from it.

What this all boils down to: was the action of crew chief Jerry Baxter out of line? In my opinion, yes! Should NASCAR fine or punish him? Again, I am saying yes as well. Boys have at it maybe the mantra that NASCAR is preaching, but for a crew member to physically touch a driver in any way is out of line.

NASCAR By the Numbers and In the Rearview Mirror (looking back at NASCAR's history) are Amanda's two weekly columns with Skirts and Scuffs, but as an Associate Editor her duties are limitless. Amanda also strives to provide exclusive interviews for the readers of Skirts and Scuffs. To read her past columns and interviews click here.. Feel free to contact and follow Amanda on Twitter.

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