The Frontstretch: A Yellow Line Rant Of A Different Color by Jeff Meyer -- Thursday April 30, 2009

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A Yellow Line Rant Of A Different Color

Voices From The Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Thursday April 30, 2009


What a difference a half a year makes!

A little over six months ago, we had a lot to write about after the race at Talladega. Seems that a mostly unknown rookie almost won a Cup race at Talladega. That man was Regan Smith.

Without rehashing the whole ordeal, in short, Reagan was forced below the (then single) yellow line by Tony Stewart, but yet still managed to pass him for the (supposed) win! Alas, it was not to be, as NASCAR ruled he was below the yellow line, which is out of bounds…yada yada yada. We all know the story.

Ironically, the results of that race, determined the results of this last weekend’s race. Smith himself said last year, and I paraphrase; “I’d have wrecked him (Tony) if I’d have known….”

This year’s first race at Talladega ended in just the opposite!

“I gotta apologize to Carl for wrecking him, but man the rule is you can’t below the yellow line. He blocked, and I wasn’t going below it. I don’t want to wreck a guy but you’re forcing the situation. This is NASCAR racing, and this is cool. I can’t believe it,” said Brad Keselowski after his first Cup win in his fifth Cup start.

That is what happened on the track during the race, but that is not what I am writing about. The problem with the yellow line that I am writing about, happens before the race even begins.

You see, I happened to tune in to the qualifying laps for Talladega as they where about in the middle of the pack, maybe towards the end, I don’t remember and I don’t care. What I care about is the qualifing lap I saw Max Papis lay down.

Now let me get this point right out there, I am NOT picking on Papis! He did what he had to do to qualify his car for this race, and what he did was perfectly within the rules, but yet, I cannot remember ever seeing it, or at least it never registered in my brain, until his qualifying laps.

During his qualifying run, Papis ran for a long while, on the apron of the track, UNDER the now DOUBLE yellow line.

As it turns out, after checking myself, and having my BOSS check it out, running under the double yellow, OUT OF BOUNDS line is perfectly legal during qualifying!

Now, as a member of the human race that still posesses some common sense, and after all the hype of the dreaded ‘yellow yellow line’, the thought occurred to me…why is running UNDER the yellow line legal in qualifying and not during the race? As it turns out, there IS no logical reason, it just IS!

NASCAR’s own rules state that at Talladega and Daytona, you cannot pass another competitor by going below the yellow line, thus improving your position.

Yes, I realize that Max Papis did NOT pass another car on the track, under the yellow line, improving his position during qualifying. How could he? He is the only one on the track at the time. However, it is at this point that I say that this is a GLARING point of how stupid NASCAR has become.

My point is simply this: A qualifying lap(s) is made to determine you startining position in the field. Max Papis had to ‘time in’, as did a number of others to even make the race. Papis did just that. However, in this game we call NASCAR, where HUNDRETHS, even less, of a second, can mean the difference of being ‘in’ or ‘out’, how can shortening the track by going below the yellow line (and I don’t mean just ‘dipping a wheel’, but the whole car below the line for an extended period of time), NOT be construed as ‘improving your position’?!

The simple fact is, you are racing on TIME for a POSITION! It does not matter if another car is on the track or not. By riding below (and yes, Papis was RIDING) the yellow line, he is shortening the track and PASSING other cars to improve his starting position! It is just not right. Either below the yellow line is out of bounds or it is not! Where is the gray area here?

Yes, the other cars can do it too, as the rule stands, and if they don’t do it, to shave a few seconds off their time then they are ignorant. But that is not the point.

The point is, NASCAR brass needs to look at this obvious over sight on their part, and I have no doubt that that is just what it is, an oversight.

Surely the powers that be are not so obtuse as to not see that a car passing on TIME or ON THE TRACK to improve their position is the same thing! I have more faith in Brian and Mike than that!

Yeah right!

Stay off the wall and above the yellow!

Jeff Meyer

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©2000 - 2008 Jeff Meyer and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

Sharon J
04/30/2009 07:32 AM

Never,ever expect Nascar to use common sense then you will never, ever be disappointed.

04/30/2009 07:56 AM

One of the very best analogies of “the yellow line rule” I have read!

INDEED! Papis “passed” other cars by going “below” the yellow line.

BUT! We all know just how STUPID NA$CRAP really is.

And can you believe Jim Hunter saying “we are not going to change anything”???

I have been to Talladega many, many times, but not in the past ten years or so. Used to tell everyone that if you went to one race, it would have to be Talladega.

NO LONGER! It simply ain’t racing!

04/30/2009 08:19 AM

First we get the “ casual fan “ and now we have the “ casual writer “ . I take it you haven’t been watching Nascar for very long . You and your boss should have paid attention to all of the cars during qualifying , they all ran below the doble yellow . Its an old trick to cut down the distance traveled . In fact its used at most of the larger Nascar tracks .
In qualfying , only one car is below the yellow line and the driver has the option to go as low as he wants before getting into the grass . In a race situation , the driver is trying to pass another car that does not want to be passed . Therefore , the passing car is going to be forced all the way down into the grass if necessary , causing the passing car to lose control and take out other cars as well . It isn’t rocket science guys , its common sense .

bob lewis
04/30/2009 09:18 AM

quite possibly the stupidest “article” ever posted to this site, and you got paid for this?no wonder it was late!

Kevin in SoCal
04/30/2009 12:29 PM

Michael’s right. Most everyone went below the yellow line onto the apron on their qualifying lap.

04/30/2009 12:47 PM

I kinda agree that the rules should be the same for both qualifying and racing.

Bill H
04/30/2009 01:02 PM

I don’t think you quite get what the yellow line rule is about. The line marks the transition from the flat apron to the high banked racing surface, and making that at high speed can be lethal. It’s relatively okay on the straight where the bank is less, but really dangerous in the turns. Drivers used to be self limiting when they went below it, but were becoming more and more reckless and pushing the limits; staying below the line into the turn and losing it coming onto the bank. I very well remember watching cars below the line and staying there too long, trying to come back up onto the banking and losing it. I would even watch someone and predict that they were going to lose it. NASCAR talked to them in meetings, but it kept getting worse and the drivers kept causing wrecks by abusing the line. Finally NASCAR made the rule about not going below the line. The yellow line rule is the result of an increasing recklessness on the part of the drivers.

A driver driving alone during qualifying has far better control and can better transition the car. Plus a single car wrecking is far different that a car taking out twenty or so during a race.

Lunar Tunes
04/30/2009 02:21 PM

It always amazes me how some people can read something and totally miss the whole point of what they just read.

Perhaps Shaq should practice his free throws a liitle closer to the basket. Come game time it should really benefit him.

Kyle Earnhardt, Jr.
05/01/2009 12:13 AM

“I don’t think you quite get what the yellow line rule is about. The line marks the transition from the flat apron to the high banked racing surface, and making that at high speed can be lethal.”

So qualifying is not done at high speed? Your logic is about as good as NA$CAR’s

05/01/2009 09:23 PM

I apologize for Michael & Bob Lewis, and me with the starving pygmies down there in New Guinea.


Contact Jeff Meyer

Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

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