NASCAR President Mike Helton delivered the news during the drivers meeting before the race — No bump drafting or push drafting in the corners on ANY, including the final lap. Should it happen, drivers will be penalized.
If it happens before the last lap, drivers will have to pass through the pits — if it’s their first offense. On the last lap, NASCAR will have to react, Helton admits.
Here’s what Helton said and the questions from drivers in the meeting:
HELTON: One of the things we want to make clear in this drivers meeting that will be part of us regulating the race today is what that means in the turns. I think you got a taste of it on Friday, but today we will not allow doubling-up, pushing, locked up, bump drafting or whatever you call it in the turns. So, all the way through turns 1 and 2, all the way through turns 3 and 4, you will not be allowed to push someone, to bump draft them or to shove them through the turns. Remember the aggressive driving will still be watched very closely on the frontstretch and through the trioval. We have seen the progress, particularly in Talladega of two cars hooking up and basically locked up all the way around for a lap. You will not be allowed to do that through the turns. That’s from the green flag all the way through the checkered flag. So even on the last lap, coming through (turns) 3 and 4, you’re not going to be able to push a guy or hook up in a two-car tandem like we’ve seen progress through practice. Juan, did you have a question?
MONTOYA: Yeah. If somebody passes you on the last lap … and they’re hooked up in 3 and 4, you’re going to do something about it. You guarantee you’re going to do something about it.
HELTON: Yeah. Now, understand we’re not going to throw a black flag with the checkered flag because the rule book gives us the ability to adjust the finish order based on incidents that may unfold during the conclusion of the race. We’re not going to make a big whoop-to-do over it until you get to the hauler. Until the the driver who might be involved in it.
MONTOYA: If the guy being penalized is in Victory Lane …
HELTON: Then we’ll figure that out before. We’ve got 2.6 miles to get the word to them. To Juan’s point if the race winner or the guy that takes the checkered has got that position by drafting up through the turns and you could be the guy in front, then that’s going to be an issue with us. The guy from the back will catch the penalty most all the time but if you win the race by drafting through 1 and 2 with help then you’re going to have a problem and the guy that pushed you is going to have a problem.
MONTOYA: (He asks another question) … I don’t want to make a big fuss out of it. I want to make sure it’s clear enough by the time the race starts.
HELTON: The way I understand it and I don’t drive one one of these race cars, thank goodness, but the way I understand it, in order to do that the lead car has got to play a role in this too. Now we understand the guy in the back does the shoving. It feels to me like that the guy up front plays a role in this too. Now that doesn’t mean that the guy in 1 and 2 can’t get approached from the back, pushed. If we feel like he didn’t have a role in this, that comes into play, but it’s going to be harder for us to do. We tried to avoid this all along because this isn’t easy and we’re going to stay on top of it the best we can and that doesn’t we’re going to catch every one of them but if somebody is hooked up long enough, it’s going to be pretty obvious. And you have to stay hooked up long enough and it’s going to be obvious throughout the race. It will be more obvious to us on the last lap because we’ll be watching it very close. Michael.
WALTIP: I think it has to let the guy in front have a role in it especially if it’s teammates … because the guy in front benefits. Both people have to bear responsibility. It’s obvios when it happens and we all know it. It can’t happen unless it goes a long way. You can’t just get on somebody for a little bit and make it work. Anything that is spread out over any lenght of time is obvious that’s what’s going on.
J.GORDON: This was not in effect yesterday in the truck series race?
HELTON: It’s different in the trucks in that we warned the guys a lot yesterday to back off. If there’s doubt today during the race, you may get a warning but you also may not. If it’s obvious to us, you may not, but there were a couple of incidents yesterday where the drivers got warned and they stopped.
J.GORDON: But the (Truck) race was won by one pushing another.
HELTON: Here’s the key point. We’re talking about 1 and 2 and 3 and 4.
MONTOYA: You can push in the trioval?
HELTON: You can push down the backsteretch. Now, remember, gosh, I hate this. There is a point where it becomes aggressive. If we think it’s too aggressive. What we’re talking about, where we want to see sunshine between the cars is in 1 and 2 and 3 and 4.
EDWARDS: Mike, how wouldy you have ruled the spring race?
HELTON: Well, you’re asking specificially about what happend in the trioval?
EDWARDS: No in general.
HELTON: Carl, to be honest with you I didn’t go back to look at what happened in 3 and 4.
EDWARDS: We were pushing.
HELTON: Then we would have had an issue based on what I’m telling you today. If you push in the turns or you set out to be pushed in the turns, then we’re going to have an issue.
MONTOYA: (asks if it will be a drive through penalty)
HELTON: Yes. We’ll just make that clear now. It will be a drive through penalty if you do it during the race for the first incident. The second one, we’ll be … we’ll decide.
NEWMAN: (notes that in the spring race there were 2 2-car drafts and asks if NASCAR is prepared to penalize 4 or so cars at the finish of the race)
HELTON: It comes down and we understand what this opens up and we’ve avoided trying to do it but we think we’re at a point where we need to get into the middle of this. If you push through the turns, we’re going to get involved. It could be the first four cars. It could be three by six cars. So the slickest thing guys is not to do it. What we’re asking you right now is not to do it. We’re also telling you not to do it.
SALDER (asks about reaffirming where you can make contact)
HELTON: YOu can’t make contact until you’re out of the turns.
SADLER: (Asks what Kyle and Almirola did in the sense that pushing in the trioval is OK)
HELTON: What we’re talking about not doing is in the turns. That’s correct.
Dustin Long | 01 November 2009