The Frontstretch: Talladega Blights: Smith Disenfranchised, Johnson One Step Closer by Vito Pugliese -- Tuesday October 7, 2008

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Talladega Blights: Smith Disenfranchised, Johnson One Step Closer

Voice of Vito · Vito Pugliese · Tuesday October 7, 2008


I am going to forego the normal flowery introduction to this week’s column with a decidedly blunt statement: Regan Smith got screwed out of a win Sunday at Talladega.

As I see it, the rules are pretty clear… even if the interpretation is not. You can’t go below the yellow line unless you are forced below it — and that’s exactly what millions of fans saw unfold. Smith faded high coming to the checkered flag in the tri-oval, and Tony Stewart drifted up to block him; when he did, Smith turned down the banking and got a fender inside of Stewart’s quarterpanel. Stewart then turned down in an effort to block once again, made slight contact with Smith, and knocked him below the yellow line. Stewart then continued to run down to that yellow line itself, preventing the rookie access to the racing surface he needed to make a “legal” pass. But Smith continued on his path, coming back up onto the track inside the yellow line, and made it to the flagstand first with some awesome moves on the apron. Stewart, however, was flagged the winner instead.

How on earth is this possible?

The whole situation is fraught with more irony than a Mark Twain novel. Here you have Tony Stewart, wheeling a Toyota in a state where they build Hondas. And he’s is not all that popular at Talladega — fans not wanting to forget his “Obnoxious Talladega Race Driver” T-Shirt following his taunt of “Obnoxious Talladega Race Fans” from a few years back. As happy as he was to visit Victory Lane for the first time in central Alabama on Sunday, Stewart dedicated his win to his fans in attendance — a move that led to a chorus of boos and only a small smattering of applause. And the man was not driving his familiar orange car on this day, but rather, a yellow one — one promoting sandwiches that advertise their propensity to promote weight loss. Suffice it to say by Smoke’s generous girth, they only make an appearance a couple of times year on both his car and his dinner plate.

On the other side of pit road, we had Regan Smith. Driving an unsponsored DEI machine, Smith is one of DEI and Mark Martin’s protégés, having split time with the veteran driver last season in the No. 01 car. They started together as the new drivers for the then-Ginn Racing operation, before that franchise went Wachovia and was absorbed by DEI in the summer of 2007.

Martin’s first race in the No. 01 wasn’t much different than Smith’s. Making his debut for the team in the 2007 Daytona 500, that race marked the first time since 2003 that cars were allowed to race back to the yellow flag amid the mayhem and devastation of a green-white-checkered finish in The Great American Race. But as virtually the entire field was involved in a fourth-turn calamity, the No. 01 of Martin was clearly ahead of Kevin Harvick’s mustard yellow and hemorrhoid red Monte Carlo when the caution flag should have come out. Keep in mind that during this time, Clint Bowyer was on fire, sliding shiny-side down along the frontstretch while flipping and flinging sod. But Martin made a move to get ahead long enough for the yellow that never flew; so, Harvick nosed him out at the line instead once Martin checked up just a bit too much.

Of course, the reaction from NASCAR Nation wasn’t exactly all that great. Fans groaned and tilted their heads in confusion like your dog does when you change his food on him. But that’s to be expected.

Now, this time around it was the same car, same number, and the same wishy-washy interpretation of NASCAR’s loosely-stated litmus test. Had they not capriciously applied the rules in regards to which driver would be affected best by the outcome, Smith would indeed have been the one “doing burnouts out there,” as he flatly stated after the final decision came down from on high. Burnouts aside — assuming the Goodyear tires didn’t go Fat Man and Little Boy and Ginsu a corner of the race car — it is even more of a disaster for Smith, as his car is in desperate need of sponsorship to keep afloat for 2009. And what better medicine would there be than for an unsponsored DEI car to win at a track that is nearly synonymous with The Intimidator, with his final, and arguably most impressive, win coming at the 2.66-mile superspeedway? As it is, following yesterday’s cruel and crass decision, the only products that could now fittingly be applied to the flanks of the No. 01 car would be what can best be described as “personal” lubricant or any number of prophylactics.

Regan Smith may have forged ahead of Tony Stewart heading to the finish line, but it was that dreaded yellow line that allowed NASCAR to make a controversial penalty call which took away his first career win in the series.

While this injustice was taking place at the head of the pack, about a quarter of a mile behind the Stewart/Smith saga was a race of quiet competence. Jimmie Johnson soldiered on to a ninth-place finish Sunday, fourth among the championship Chasers at ‘Dega. But more importantly was how he got there… and who among the other six he eclipsed.

Johnson started the race in the back after an engine change following Saturday’s qualifying session. Unfortunately, the new engine was just as flaccid as the old one, and although he was able to avoid trouble early in the event, Johnson promptly lost the draft and was overtaken by the field and lapped on the 25th circuit. But starting in the back probably wasn’t all bad considering the carnage that ensued on Sunday. After all it was Johnson, who, for all of his success, still carried a bit of a stigma for being involved (if not the cause) for a few “Big Ones” in his restrictor plate tenure. However, Johnson battled back with a car that was lacking some steam under the hood, as the nut behind the wheel had his game as tight as always. As a result, Johnson was seemingly dodging wrecks and tire carcasses all day, including the “Big One” on Lap 175 that left main rivals Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards sitting in the garage. Chalk it up what you will: destiny, divine intervention, or driving with your eyes closed; but the fact is that the No. 48 car seems to have what the No. 24 car had in its heyday of the mid to late ’90s… Dumb Luck.

No matter what the Chad Knaus-led crew does or touches these days, it turns to gold. If they aren’t winning their 10 races a year, they’re contending for wins in races they had no business competing in. If they aren’t doing that, they are taking a car that was an absolute sled — like the one they had all weekend — and have it missing wrecks and detonating tires en route to manageable Top-10 finishes. It’s the little things that win championships in this sport, and yesterday was a prime example. This team will get their wins, poles, and Top 5s, to be sure; but they can also take a bummer day and still get a respectable finish out of it.

Surprised? Don’t be. Keep in mind that Knaus was one of the original students at the University of Evernham, and Johnson is cut from the same mold as Jeff Gordon. Together, they are orchestrating a three-peat season that has not been accomplished since Cale Yarborough and Junior Johnson did so in 1976-1978. It’s a performance that is punctuated by preparation, persistence, and luck not seen since it started pouring after Jeff Burton knocked the wall down at Darlington while leading in 1999.

Yes, this weekend was an exercise in the study of two drivers on decidedly different ends of the spectrum. On the one hand you have Smith, the hard-luck case that became the stock car incarnate of Charlie Brown having the football pulled on him by Lucy at the last second. His ride in jeopardy, a win in his unsponsored DEI car would have certainly gone a long way towards retaining the seat for him in 2009 — or, at the very least, landing a decent gig elsewhere. But that was ripped from him by another NASCAR eye-roller of a judgment call, one that favored a popular Chase driver who is in danger of going winless as he moves on to start his own team next year.

And on the other end of the spectrum you have Johnson, the driver who is California cool and unflappable in seemingly any circumstance. Johnson had it all on display yesterday as he threaded through the eye of the needle on two occasions, thereby preserving, and ultimately extending, his points lead over the Roush Fenway duo of Edwards and Biffle.

If only Smith had a sliver of the good racing fortune that Johnson has. Perhaps he can pick some up at a Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse the next time he’s there; because chances are after Sunday’s result that dropped him from a win to 18th, he might end up working there next year. And, it’s safe to say, he won’t be seen shopping at The Home Depot anytime soon.

Or Subway.

Contact Vito Pugliese

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Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


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10/07/2008 04:41 AM

I’m sure Reagan Smith appreciates your concern over his loss , but i’m sure there have been many times this season when he could have used some mentions from you . Had you and other writers paid any real attention to him over the course of the season he wouldn’t be on the verge of losing his ride for lack of sponsorship . Where were all of the writeups that would have caught a sponsors eye ? Truth is , until Talladega , Smiths name was only mentioned in passing . Now suddenly hes your one and only concern . Along with hyping Jimmy “ i think i’ll just ride around and points race “ Johnson .

From your description of the end of the race , i suggest you watch the tape again . You missed a lot . But the only fact that bears on the pass by Smith is that he was below the line when he did it . The rule does not deal with how Smith got below the line . The rule states that once hes down there , HE CAN NOT PASS ! He had other options , he just didn’t use any of them .He passed Tony and was penalized for it . And other than Johnson , every other driver in the race sure seemed to know the rule . Its been around for a number of years .

10/07/2008 07:35 AM

Nicely stated! And I add two (2) points everyone is seeming to miss:

1. according to the drivers, such as JJ, at the morning drivers meeting it was stated, and then verified by NA$CAR, “that when the checker is in site, anything goes”! (in response to drivers questions re: the below-the-yellow-line-thingy)

So, NA$CAR says one thing, yet does another!


(and remember, generally in racing your allowed one move to block, either up or down, but cannot go up and then down to block, in an IRL race, Helio was immediately penalized for weaving down the track blocking, at least the IRL has guts to do what the rules say)

2. It “is” totally a GOODYEAR responsibility to supply tires that do not explode! Has nothing to do with the ARCA series, or HOOSIER, or anyone else!

GOODYEAR has contracted for, and paid for, the right to supply CUP tires!

And they have proven over the years they know not what they do!

Shayne Flaherty
10/07/2008 08:04 AM

I’m glad Marshall was able to paint a black and white interpretation of NASCAR’s rulebook. Those of us not drinking the Kool-Aid are questioning NASCAR’s subjective interpretation of their own ambiguous rules.

10/07/2008 08:27 AM

I don’t understand how so many fans can put up with this—this is why I only watch a handful of races a year anymore (in Cup), and every damn race I do watch has some bullshit like this. Smith was robbed, pure and simple—France was shitting his pants worried that a no-name, no-sponsor rookie with some (gasp) TALENT was gonna beat one of his golden boys in the Chase, and waved his magic finger to say “NO.” It doesn’t MATTER what the rulebook says one way or the other, because NASCAR has ignored the rule book arbitrarly for the last half-dozen races at this track in all three classes. Complete bullshit. And worse YET, they drop him to 18th. The hell with NASCAR.

Bill B
10/07/2008 08:41 AM

From what I can see, the only people that don’t feel there was any problem with the call NASCAR made are Stewart fans.

10/07/2008 08:45 AM

From a post on NASCAR.COM this morning:

In February of 2007, after a Truck Series race in Daytona, another prominent NASCAR spokesman, Ramsey Poston, went on a Sirius radio show and was asked by hosts Marty Snider and David Poole about a three-wide finish in which Johnny Benson went below the yellow line and passed Travis Kvapil for second in the event won by Jack Sprague (watch video). Poston’s response appears to be, at least in large part, what fueled the belief of some drivers that “anything goes” on the final lap of events sponsored by NASCAR.

I rest my case.

10/07/2008 08:46 AM

nascar has left the drivers with only one choice…punt the other driver into the fence and let the cars fall where they may.

10/07/2008 08:57 AM

John, its great that Poston took the time to fill everyone in . But first , it was concerning a truck race , not a cup race , same rules , maybe , maybe not . More important , it is not now or has it ever been Postons job to make , or enforce the rules . He is an overpaid press agent for NASCAR . He has no authority to interpret the rules and the racers know that . And the fans should know that too .

10/07/2008 09:07 AM

Hey Marshall!


“will the real NA$CAR please stand up”?

Is this why NA$CAR has “various” spokesman, because they can then go back and say “he did not have the authority to say this” when it becomes inconvenient to NA$CAR?

10/07/2008 09:13 AM

Douglas , i’d say thats a very good possibility . Or , it could well be that these underlings are so full of themselves ( i speak for the great NASCAR , bow before me ) that they just naturally feel the need to pretend to be in charge .

10/07/2008 09:21 AM

And, as I scan various writings on Jayski, it appears now, (see, give NA$CRAP time to think and they can come up will all kinds of things, and people actually believe this crap), anyway, NA$CAR now says, “Smith could not see the checkered flag, so his pass was illegal!


Ever heard of spotters? A known, constant commodity at every race informing the drivers whats going on?

“spotter to Smith” “the checker is out, go for it”!

Maybe NA$CAR needs to eliminate the spotters now!

So, in NA$CAR terms, a spotter can tell a driver the yellow flag is out, but cannot tell a driver the checker is out!


I hope ya’ll are not falling for this BS!

I see in my crystal ball a new rule being written for the spotters!

Jeff G
10/07/2008 10:37 AM

So marshall,
Are you saying we now need to ask NASCAR to issue a list of “Spokepersons” for the truck, Nationwide, and Cup series?? AND, what we can or cannot believe coming from their mouth??

Come on man!! Admit it, this is a circus!!

Maybe they will have a pre-race fence climbing, back flipping competition for all the drivers. Maybe let them qualify on who can do the best burnout (the dumbest damn thing I’ve ever seen in sport).

I’m sure Vince McMahon IS Brian France’s TOP advisor!

NASCAR has become a laughing stock!!

10/07/2008 10:42 AM

First off NOTHING was mentioned in the drivers meeting that anything goes on the last lap. It was clear in the drivers meeting that you cannot pass below the yellow line. Regan just assumed since he heard it during a truck race that it was okay. Well that was stupid on his part.

And second. Tony Stewart won the freaking race. END OF STORY!!!

10/07/2008 10:49 AM


So we are to assume that you were present at the driver’s meeting since you seem to know everything that was discussed there?

Also, for those that really care about this sport, this is not the end of the story.

10/07/2008 10:59 AM

Melissa: I believe JJ Yeley specifically stated after the race that HE heard in the driver’s meeting it was okay to pass on the last lap. He was quickly shut up of course. This is run just like the Bush adminstration… Say something, then say something completely the opposite. Deny, deny, deny and then shut anyone up that dares to speak against you. This isn’t a racing series, it’s a dictatorship.

10/07/2008 11:04 AM

By the way, everyone might want to check the NASCAR website. They have a poll at the bottom of the front page on who should have won. I just checked and it was 56% – 44% in favor of Regan Smith. Maybe I am just being a little hopeful, but this poll might be a way to try to send a signal to NASCAR about how the fans actually feel.

10/07/2008 11:09 AM

On Raceday they played Hoots talking about the yellow line. Nothing was mentioned about anything goes on the last lap. And Jimmie Johnson even said it was not mentioned in the drivers meeting. here is the link to that if you do not believe me.

Jeff G
10/07/2008 11:12 AM

Did anyone other than me notice that ABC’s two “Expert” commentators couldn’t get it right on the last lap either?

Didn’t Andy Petree say “anything goes on the last lap”, and Dale Jarrett countered with a pretty much “I don’t think so”.

You would at least think NASCAR would provide the network with their lastest version of the rules, say sometime during the last 50 laps or so….LOL…LOL…LOL

10/07/2008 11:25 AM

C’mon Jeff G , when would you ever pay attention to a paid shill . Do you expect that Poston or Hunter is ever going to tell the truth about anything . And again , Poston does not have the authority to make rules interpretations for NASCAR . No more so than Jerry Punch does .
And at the finish of the race , Dale Jarrett said “ he can’t do that “ and Andy Petree said “ no , i think he can on the last lap “ and Jarrett said “ i don’t think so . And you know what , Jarrett was right .

scott b
10/07/2008 11:39 AM

Umm, Melissa, you wouldn’t be a Tory Stewart fan would you? This is quote is from the very same source you reference:

JIMMIE JOHNSON: “Here’s what happened. Yesterday it was brought up in the Truck Series race. Everybody was watching it. Everybody said, Oh, all right. Everybody went off and asked their questions where they needed to and kept that advice and that knowledge in their back pocket just in case they were in position to win the race.

Evidently Regan Smith knew what the deal was and went for it. He saw the truck race, did some research today and made a move he felt was going to win the race. Where the argument comes in, what I was told is from where you can see the flag. That is a question of where this all falls in place. It’s when you could see the flagman, anything goes. That all started this morning. Like wildfire it went through the garage area. Everybody was kind of worrying about it, keeping it in their back pocket.”

10/07/2008 11:50 AM


I’ve placed my vote—but NASCAR hasn’t listened to fans in 10 years, why start now?

10/07/2008 11:56 AM

Marahall got it right: The rule says they can’t pass under the yellow line—period.

Stewart did the same thing at Daytona in, I think, ’01, and he got busted for it—no win.

It seems to come down to this: If you don’t like Stewart or Toyotas, it was a bad call. If you don’t have that petty prejudice, it was a good call.

Dale Jarrett said that passing below the yellow is illegal and has been at restrictor plate tracks. He’s right. History shows that’s true.

I suggest that all the whiners get over it and move on. There’s a race at Charlotte this weekend; focus on that.

As Lady Macbeth said, “What’s done is done and cannot be undone.”

Jeff G
10/07/2008 11:59 AM

you made my point!

NASCAR does not pay Jerry Punch to speak for them.

NASCAR DOES pay Hunter and Poston TO SPEAK FOR THEM.. If you can’t believe a paid NASCAR spokesperson, then who do you believe??

Maybe the circus should have a meeting with all their clowns and discuss who can say what when… LOL..LOL..LOL

AND, you also agreed Dale and Andy were not on the same page.

Again, I didn’t care who won. NASCAR just has a REALLY, REALLY, bad history in the consistency department…..

10/07/2008 12:02 PM

Congrats nascar bit by bit your bumbling has eroded my desire to be a fan of your series.I’m sure im not the only fan who feels this was and no i wasn’t a casual fan . Iv’e only missed one race on tv in the last 7 years and that was because i was at the brickyard 400 in person

10/07/2008 12:18 PM

Wow , interesting how many fans Regan Smith had that never spoke up . I suspect that until this incident , the majority of responders here couldn’t even spell Regan Smith . Nice guy , has some talent , hope he stays with it . But lets dump this pretend outrage over a guy you never heard of before .

10/07/2008 12:25 PM

We are not outraged because it is Regan Smith. We are outraged because NASCAR screwed up again and decided the winner of this race by making up their own rules. We would have been outraged no matter which driver was involved.

10/07/2008 12:31 PM

Nice try Jeff G. , but when NASCAR puts Poston and Hunter in charge of interpreting the rules , then i’ll listen to them .
And while i like and respect Andy Petree , he was obviously wrong wasn’t he . Dale Jarrett , being a driver would probably be more familier with the rule than Andy anyway .

Kevin in SoCal
10/07/2008 12:55 PM

1. according to the drivers, such as JJ, at the morning drivers meeting it was stated, and then verified by NA$CAR, “that when the checker is in site, anything goes”! (in response to drivers questions re: the below-the-yellow-line-thingy)

Nothing I have read on any NASCAR site suggests “anything goes during the last lap” was said during Sunday morning’s drivers meeting. The only place that was said was by Ramsey Poston after the 2007 Daytona truck race.

10/07/2008 01:03 PM

Before Regan Smith passed Fat Tony below the line, Fat Tony forced Regan Smith below the line. If the sanctioning body had an iota of integrity, that would have sent Fat Tony to 18th place and Regan Smith to Victory Lane. And, if frogs had wings….

You’ve got to give it to ol’ Tony. He’s got Mike “Fat Bastard” Helton and his little band of whistle-swallowing weasels thoroughly intimidated. With Goodyears popping like popcorn kernels, they no doubt were terrified that the Petulant One would once again wallow out of the Orange Pumpkin (OK, YELLOW Pumpkin in this race) and snarl at the Official Exclusive Tire Supplier of NA$CAR (never mind that Tony’s favorite tires—Hoosiers—had just put a humongous dent in the bank accounts of a bunch of struggling little ARCA teams; we didn’t hear so much as a peep out of him about Hoosiers, did we?).

So, far better for the denizens of the NA$CAR hauler to—ahem—“interpret” their every-changing rules and send Fat Tony to Victory lane for his much-coveted ‘Dega win, than to call a fair race, send Terrible Tony into a frothing-at-the-mouth hissy-fit, and cause The Brian any more unpleasantries with a corporation that sends the France clan an occasional check.

The lessons for rookie Regan (if he can find a sponsor and keep his ride)?:

(1) next time, hold your line and wreck the field, it’s your only shot, and

(2) act like a spoiled two-year-old brat. Heck, the worst that will happen is that you’ll get put on double-secret probation.

It's Me!
10/07/2008 01:40 PM

Apparently the “interpretation” doesn’t end at NASCAR.

Everyone seems to “interpret” what Jimmie said as being stated by NASCAR in the driver’s meeting and yet he said that it was a “rumor” going around, NOT IN THE DRIVER“S MEETING. In fact, it has been confirmed on many sites that in the driver’s meeting, it was said “this is your warning, you cannot advance your position by going below the yellow line”. No mention at all that “anything goes” once the checkers are waved. Regan Smith said that NASCAR says every week that you can pass below the yellow line on the last lap… yet the rule only applies to restrictor plate races, so my guess is that Regan was a bit confused by the rule itself.

I don’t know how many times, we are told during restrictor plate races that below the yellow line is OUT OF BOUNDS. I knew that, my friends knew that, geez, I think even my dog knows that. If Regan Smith, an actual driver in the Cup series, does know that, perhaps there are bigger problems here.

As for other quotes from NASCAR officials about Johnny Benson and such…as far as I know, the CUP series and the TRUCK series are two separate entities and probably should be treated as such! I’m sure there’s more than one rule in the Cup series that doesn’t apply to the Trucks and vice versa.

We may not agree with the rule (although, personally I think an “anything goes” rule for the lap last would be very, very dangerous!), it is a rule and Regan violated that rule. Unfortunately he had to pay the price.

don mei
10/07/2008 01:49 PM

Melissa, go get Michael “Nascar ALWAYS makes the right call!” Waltrip a beer. I wonder if I’m too old to become a football fan. Thank god for the motorcycle racing on Speed!

10/07/2008 02:08 PM

Scott B, You left out the most important part of JJ’s comments and that is “it was not bought up in the drivers meeting”. Bottom line is JJ or regan should have spoken up and asked NASCAR during the drivers meeting. It is STUPID to trust that a rumor is true. And it is STUPID to assume that something that was said during a truck broadcast by an announcer was what is allowed in a Cup race.

10/07/2008 02:27 PM

The truck NASCAR spokesman was a PR guy and not a competition official.

And since when does six inches of a bumper equate to getting a fender on someone.

He should have just spun him. Then the 15 would have gotten his 1st win…

Vito Pugliese - FS Staff
10/07/2008 02:28 PM

Back up the truck here. It isn’t as if Smith dove below the yellow in an attempt to skirt the rules (or the apron) – he was ran down there at 195mph by a fat guy in a Camry. You’re going to find this hard to believe, but these cars – particularly these COT sleds – do not change direction very quickly at that speed, especially when you’re ran down from banking to the flat part of the race track. Using that logic, you can legally run anyone down off the track below the yellow line and cause a wreck in the process. The No. 20 car seems to have a habit of doing this. Just ask Matt Kenseth at Daytona in 2006.

As much as you cannot advance position going below the yellow line, you cannot repeatedly block or run other drivers below the yellow line.

What it ammounts to is a judgement call…and in this instance, I believe NASCAR made the wrong decision.

10/07/2008 03:03 PM

Don’t be silly . Of course he went below the yellow line to skirt the rules . HE WANTED TO WIN . The “ mean old Tony forced poor little Regan into breaking the rules “ just doesn’t fly . One last time , no matter what the reason for going below the yellow , a driver cannot then proceed to pass another driver . If he was forced down there by Tony , Regan needs to learn how to race . But no matter what the reason , Smith had the option to back off slightly and stay alongside Tony , thereby ensuring himself a second place finish , or he could have backed off and tried to get back in line . Again , no penalty . Either option was open to him , he took neither .
A driver cannot repeatedly block ?? I take it you’ve never watched a NASCAR race before .
I appreciate your insight into the handling of a COT on the apron , but would i be correct in saying that you’ve never so much as sat in a COT .
You’re letting your hatred of Tony Stewart get in the way of your writing . Not a very good idea for a writer who wants to be taken seriously .

10/07/2008 03:05 PM

We call this situation “crawfishing”, (around statements and the facts”), as best we know them anyway.

As I read what JJ “originally” stated, it WAS discussed in the drivers meeting that morning, and various drivers questioned NA$CAR directly about this issue and were told that if the checker is “in site”, then go for it.

Now, my assumption is, NA$CAR has issued yet another directive to the drivers to clam up! (please note I said my assumption), but all interviews and such re: this issue now appear “tainted”!

And, as the original article here that started this mess said: “Smith had a bumper under Tony when he was forced down”.

And folks, always in NA$CAR, if your car has a bumpers edge on the inside or outside, such that if the car being passed would hit or clip you if he moved over, YOU RIGHTFULLY HAVE THAT PART OF THE TRACK!

Everyone seems to think, or at least are stating, that a mere bumper does not count, your car has to be totally passed the car ahead.

So? Who is right? And who is wrong? All I know, it is typically NA$CAR and their dastardley method of rules interpretation!


What don’t we understand about this fact?

And, I don’t care what drivers are/were involved, I have no particular ties to any of them I just want to see a winner be called a winner! Be it John Jones or Sam Lewis!

AND!!!! Didn’t Jr. “WIN” a race this way a few years back, and NA$CAR afterward, like the next day, state that yes, he was wrong, but they did not want a riot on their hands by taking the victory away from Jr. Me thinks my memory is correct on this one!

10/07/2008 03:28 PM


Whether or not he was pushed or drove below the line is immaterial. You CANNOT improve your position below the yellow line. The rule has not changed since its inception.

He should have pushed Stewart aside, or got back behind Stewart and raced him from there.

He didn’t…he got penalized…In the CUP series, which has nothing to do with Truck, or Benson, or the phases of the moon.

Shayne Flaherty
10/07/2008 03:34 PM

The verbatim language is: “This is your warning: Race above the yellow line. If, in NASCAR’S judgment, you go below the yellow line to improve your position, you will be black-flagged. If in NASCAR’s judgment you force someone below the yellow line (in an effort to stop him from passing you), you may be black-flagged.”

Regan Smith was robbed because of NASCAR’s subjective interpretation and application of their own statement.
10/07/2008 03:35 PM

attn: marshall needed at the nascar hauler for check pickup.

checking up while everyone is running flat would have caused another big one

smith should have just run over stewart on his was to a win(or not…most likely nascar would take that away too)

10/07/2008 03:50 PM

How would checking up cause a wreck . Smith was the only car down there .

Rusty Rosignol
10/07/2008 03:50 PM

The next restrictor plate race(Daytona)is going to have a hell of a wreck at the start/finish line on lap 199. I like Tony Stewart, but he forced Regan below the line. It would be nice for Regan running 2nd in the 2009 Daytona 500 at the end. Hmm, I wonder who he will wreck to win the race.

Jeff G
10/07/2008 04:05 PM

Just wondering guys… Why do you think the rules are different for the trucks than they are for the cup cars? Several people here have pointed out that there is a difference.

If this were a truck race and the VERY SAME drivers (TS & RS) finished the VERY SAME way would Smith get the win?

As MiK pointed out “you CANNOT improve your position below the yellow line.” But! that doesn’t seem to apply to the trucks. Do you agree MiK?

Please, someone answer this not as a fan of any driver, but as someone looking at NASCAR and how they “explain” themselves….

10/07/2008 04:26 PM

A quote from Jeff G. “Please, someone answer this not as a fan of any driver, but as someone looking at NASCAR and how they “explain” themselves….”

The oceans will part before anyone can explain why NA$CAR does what it does, or decides anything!

10/07/2008 04:51 PM

Smith in no way should be considered the winner. He broke the rules.

However, one could argue that Stewart did to, and they BOTH should have been black-flagged, and Menard should have won.

However, its tough to tell if Stewart intentionally forced Smith down there.

Jeff G
10/07/2008 05:01 PM

I have been a baseball fan longer than I have been a NASCAR fan.

I played orginized baseball from age five. I played in college. That was as far as I made it though.

One thing was consistent. At EVERY level the rules were the same. From little league, to the major leagues, the rules are the same.

I guess the stupid (maybe dumb) people that run NASCAR just don’t understand consistency at ALL levels of their sport.

Max Fan
10/07/2008 05:05 PM


Regardless of what I think about the ruling, “fat guy in a Camry” is the most appaling comment I have EVER read from a media member. Any valid points you made in your article have been underminded by the lewd, immature, “school yard” name calling.

You have the right to your own opinion, but I believe a two-time champion, winner of 33 races on the Cup circuit deserves a little respect.

Unfortunately, you have lost any you had! I expect more from a so-called journalist!

10/07/2008 05:37 PM

Jeff G-

There really isn’t any difference between the two series’ rules. Just application. The rule is the same in both. Just as in baseball, difference umps make different calls-same here. Benson got away with one last year in Trucks, and Mr. smith didn’t Sunday. No relation to each other-no matter what these blind bats squeak.

Mr. Smith would have been sent to the back in a truck race, too. Unless the Ump blinked.

Jeff G
10/07/2008 06:03 PM

So MiK,
You make a good point in your last post. BUT, please explain your staements..

“You CANNOT (all upper case!) improve you position below the yellow line” (that ump must have had a lot in his eye to blink so much) Or, how about “In the CUP series, which has nothing ( wonder why you didn’t put nothing in upper case?) to do with Truck, or Benson, or the phases of the moon” ( are you saying NASCAR considers the moon in making calls?)

So now, after you make a statement saying the CUP series has nothing to do with the Truck series, you are TRYING to say they both have the same rules???

I guess you are also stopping by the NASCAR trailer to pick up your check…lol…

Vito Pugliese FS-Staff
10/07/2008 06:25 PM

Max Fan –

Hah, appalling??!! Please – it was a joke. I happen to like Tony Stewart – one of the reasons is because he himself pokes fun at it, addressing himself as a, “fat kid”…so lighten up.

Hah, no pun intended. :v p

10/07/2008 08:19 PM

One thing for sure is…Tony didn’t drive a straight line to the checker. It was plainly obvious that he was driving with the rearview mirror…something that he himself has bitched about other drivers doing. I know this because I’m pretty fond of Tony but on this occasion Smith should have taken him out. But…then he would have been the worst no driving SOB on the track had he done that. It appears he would have been a loser no matter how he handled it. I can’t fault Smith for doing what he did. He was forced down and he’s not paid to back out of the gas. If he had backed off then his desire to win would have been in question. The only way to put an end to this stupidity is to do away the yellow line rule on the last lap. Here’s a scenario worth thinking about…Cars 1 & 2 come down the stretch well ahead of the pack…car two attempts to pass but car one moves to block and is clipped. Car 1 careens into the outside wall before the line…car two goes sliding through the grass but still manages to cross the line before the field. Clearly car 2 has advanced his position below the sacred line…does car 2 win?

10/07/2008 10:05 PM

By the way, there was not an engine change on the 48 car. They “took a look inside.” NASCAR said they could look but would have to go to the back it being an impound race.

bob lewis
10/07/2008 11:07 PM

what a bunch of panty waists! If big E was still around and raced like that, everybody would be cheering him and yelling what great racing that was. give me a break, get over it. it is what it is. with the momentum and angle that smith had coming down across the track, i doubt he could have stayed off the apron anyways.

10/07/2008 11:58 PM

Don’t know what the broadcast post-race winner’s speech was like, but on HotPass Tony clearly stated to Phil Parsons that he made Regan Smith go “where he couldn’t go.” Sounded intentional to me.

10/08/2008 12:26 AM

Oh Flaherty, at least someone seems to recognise the OTHER part of the rule. If a driver forces another below the line they are subject to penalty. The lack of enforcement of this part of NASCAR’s “rule” shows their favoritism of select drivers and their desire to make it appear the “Chase” is working. Those who choose to only interpret part of the rule are as biased as NA$CAR in favoring a driver.
BTW I can probably say anything I want since I’m a working West Coaster and my posts are so late no one reads them anyway.

10/08/2008 09:54 AM

And I’m a Tony Stewart fan, btw.

10/08/2008 09:58 AM

that was odd…. I posted a followup to my comment and it REPLACED the comment… that followup was after saying that Tony IS a fat guy in a Camry, sponsored by a fast food chain that’s trying to promote weight loss. The irony is delicious.

10/08/2008 12:00 PM

marshall: why would smith go down the apron(did so because he was forced to) and check up? that would let everyone pass him. If he checks up(holding his line) when tony threw the block, he would have been ran over.

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