(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Friday Faceoff: Who Should Hold NASCAR Participants Accountable?

1. If a team member openly expresses racial bias, should NASCAR take action or does that responsibility fall on the individual team?

Erin Campbell: 
It is the team’s responsibility to set standards for racial bias. Teams have the responsibility to creating the culture in which their employees operate. They give or take away the team member’s ability to be vocal on those views. If the vocal team member steps around beliefs of the team or does something to make themselves an example for those beliefs, that is when NASCAR should step in and say something if those views do not match up with its advertised beliefs.

Jared Haas: There might be some gray areas in this topic, but I want to follow America’s Constitution. If there is clear and present danger to a person’s life, NASCAR would need to step in and make the decision to seek action against the offending party. For example, if someone actually hung a noose in the No. 43 stall as a threat to what Bubba Wallace, it would fall in NASCAR’s jurisdiction. If there is no clear and present danger, the responsibility should fall on the teams. One example is Kyle Larson’s comment on iRacing. Larson did not make any malicious threat to someone’s life. The team would make the decision of what action it would take with the person who committed openly racial bias.

Alex Gallacher: Racism isn’t OK in any light. It is NASCAR’s responsibility to enforce these rules against racism. Being racist isn’t expressing an opinion, and while, sure, you can legally say whatever you want, it will be up to NASCAR to launch an internal investigation and properly disciple the person as outlined by the rule book and NASCAR’s community guidelines. NASCAR is the big boss, and at the end of the day, the big boss gets the final say no matter what the teams say.

Adam Cheek: It hinges on the team member’s actions. If the team doesn’t take the initiative to remedy the problem and this was a known case of racism around the garage, NASCAR should take action. If NASCAR doesn’t do anything, it’s the team’s job to fix it. However, at its base the team has the immediate liability for removing said racism from the racing environment.

Mark Kristl: It should be collaboration. The teams should handle it with protocols set forth by NASCAR. Teams also should report those team members to NASCAR so it can ensure those individuals both receive fair judgment and the situation is properly handled.

2. Matt Kenseth has finished outside of the top 20 in six out of his nine Cup Series races this year. What’s wrong with the No. 42?

Cheek:  It’s an adjustment period. The guy had been out of NASCAR for around a year and a half or so prior to jumping in the No. 42, and I don’t blame him taking some time to get adjusted. Granted, I would’ve thought it would have been quicker, but he’s had a ton of issues in some of the races so far and hasn’t seemed like himself. It might take a little while longer for him to get settled.

Haas: The only race that Matt Kenseth was not a lap down in during the race in 2020 was at the first Darlington Raceway event. In his 2018 return to Roush Fenway Racing, he ran on the lead lap for seven of his 15 starts. The problem lies  the team for which is he racing. Ganassi picked someone who has the exact opposite racing style of Larson with Kenseth. As a result, CGR is not building cars for Kenseth to handle well. In the next three races after his Darlington debut, he was involved in five different incidents. Kenseth has been slow in order to keep from wrecking his car. The only other lead-lap finish was at Bristol Motor Speedway, during which he got the free pass. Sometimes it can take a little bit to adjust to a new team, but Kenseth and Ganassi have a lot of work to do.

Joy Tomlinson: Kenseth and the team are still figuring out the new rules package, as things were quite a bit different than when he competed. He definitely doesn’t have the same style that Larson had, so it’s an adjustment for everyone. Of course, the lack of practice really hasn’t helped things either. Also, some things occurring on the track really weren’t his fault, like what happened at Talladega Superspeedway. Perhaps once he and his team adjusts a bit more to the car’s handling, he could start earning more top 10s. By then it may be too late to get into the playoffs, but you never know.

Christian Koelle: This seems to be common ground here with the No. 42 car. Either Larson would do really good or really bad, and it’s the same with Kenseth. Also, Kenseth missed a transition year (2019) when NASCAR added a ton of new things to the car that he hasn’t been able to experience and take notes on. Instead, he’s getting a crash course, and without practices that hurts him even more. Kenseth is an old school racerm so even a simulator isn’t going to get him up to par. He’s a seat filler for Ross Chastain until the 2021 season because Chastain was already obligated to pilot the No. 10 in the Xfinity Series for Kaulig Racing.

Gallacher: There is nothing wrong with the team — the problem lies with Kenseth. Kenseth is experienced but has no experience driving Chevys. And having been out of the sport for nearly two seasons, it’s not fair to just assume Kenseth will be just as good as he was in 2017. Larson took the No.42 to heights, and his team got into a rhythm with Larson behind the wheel. With Kenseth being most likely a seat filler until Chastain is brought up, the team knows it will probably tank this season in order to learn as much as it can for 2021.

3. Grant Enfinger is the sole Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series regular to win in 2020, but his two victories are his only top-10 finishes. Do you see him as a championship frontrunner?

Koelle: Yes and no. Grant Enfinger has always kicked tail in the regular season and boom, he loses it. It will be all about how he performs in the playoffs. Of all the contenders, though, he does look like one of the best on the surface.

Kristl: Yes, partly because he presently is the only Truck driver with playoff points (11). If he snags some more stage wins, he will accrue more playoff points and have an advantage upon entering the playoffs.

Cheek: Yes. Despite those irregularities in the statistics, Enfinger is consistent when he needs to be and up front when it matters. Drivers like Austin Hill and Johnny Sauter are bigger championship threats, but don’t count that No. 98 out when the postseason rolls around. He won the regular season title last year, so he’ll be racking up points.

Gallacher: Enfinger is not the championship front runner at the moment. Despite being the only regular to win, he only won Daytona International Speedway after dooring Jordan Anderson coming to the finish and Atlanta Motor Speedway after taking advantage of the late-race caution to beat Hill in two clutch performances. Enfinger has shown that while he can come in clutch, he isn’t the the driver I would pick to win the title. The driver that should be on everyone’s radar is Hill. As the season progresses, look for Hill to break out. However, come playoff time it really is a toss up given the new format. Given Enfinger’s clutch nature, it’s possible things might change.

Campbell: Enfinger may not be seen as a frontrunner for the championship right now, but at least he will make the playoffs. That is a start. He will then be given a chance to start over. Since he obtained his win early, he his team has had plenty of time to prepare for the playoffs, giving it an advantage once the championship run begins. He may find his stride though and become that frontrunner should his team tap into that special setup where he is comfortable.

4. Is there another track would you like to see host a Cup doubleheader, and if so, which one?

Tomlinson: Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the road course. The Xfinity Series cars are already going to run the road course this year, so why not Cup as well? Granted, some adjustments to the course may need to be made after the Xfinity race, but that’s normal for new tracks. Plus, it gives drivers two chances to kiss the bricks. Let them try something different at this historic track.

Kristl: Chicagoland Speedway could host a fun doubleheader. The last two Cup races have ended at different times, but both featured exciting finishes. Earlier this year, NASCAR affirmed its commitment to the track; what better way to show it than reward it with a doubleheader following its cancellation this year? If NASCAR collaborated with the short track promoters in the area, it could be a fun Saturday night and Sunday daytime doubleheader race weekend.

Haas: I would like to see tracks to which NASCAR has to travel farther to get a doubleheader. Doubleheaders used wisely can bring in a crowd. Markets that are not as saturated with NASCAR fans can experience NASCAR in two days rather than one. The more exposure that these markets get will cause more fans to come. Instead of traveling twice for two races in a year, fans can travel once and see two races which would save money on travel expenses. Fans will get the value of paying less at the hotel and are more likely to spend on another race ticket and/or more merchandise. Rotating doubleheaders every year could be a good idea, too.

Campbell: The Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL would be awesome as a doubleheader. The racing is tight, it’s something new and it shows off the drivers ability to do more than just turn left. Fans get variety and a unique race. The ROVAL is a fairly new track; a doubleheader would also give the drivers more experience to figure the track out.

Koelle: I’d like to see one host a race that has lights like Bristol Motor Speedway, Auto Club Speedway, etc., where we could have one under the sunshine and another under the lights, that would be special to do. Otherwise, there isn’t a specific track on the circuit I want to see host a doubleheader.

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Frank Velat has been an avid follower of NASCAR and other motorsports for over 20 years. He brings a blend of passionate fan and objective author to his work. Frank offers unique perspectives that everyone can relate to, remembering the sport's past all the while embracing its future. Follow along with @FrankVelat on Twitter.

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One comment

  1. Avatar
    Don in Connecticut

    How naive, Alex. In contemporary America ,
    offering the WRONG opinion is considered
    racist. The problem of course is who will decide
    What opinions are racist and what are not.
    Nascar? Don’t make me laugh. Groupthink
    will be enforced! Thou shalt not upset the
    sponsors lest the golden eggs cease. 2024 is
    coming.