FOX Sports Exclusive
McREYNOLDS: Petty Enterprises shouldn't use drivers as scapegoats
Share This Story
Gentlemen, please your sponsorsLast Friday on "Trackside", we discussed the gentlemen's agreement with NASCAR president Mike Helton, who basically agreed that until NASCAR makes a rule, the gentlemen's agreement simply will not work. It worked back in the day when only six to ten cars could win a race. It was easier to pass, and the field was very strung then. Today, more than 24 cars a race have a legitimate chance of winning. The competition is much tighter, and the pressure from sponsors and owners is much greater. The purse for finishing a race is really peanuts compared to what a good finish and lots of exposure means to those sponsors. Winning races also gets you into the winners' circle program which is more money and points bonuses at the end of the year. Many sponsors even have performance bonues, like I did with Lowe's at Richard Childress Racing with Lowe's. There's so much riding on a team's performance, money -- and potentially lots of it -- and exposure for your sponsors. They are looking for the return on their investment, and if the performance isn't there, the sponsors won't be there long either. Therein lies the issue with the gentlemen's agreement. You can't just let a guy have his lap back because that guy may very well come back and beat you at the end of the race. When I was his crew chief, I told my driver that, short of intentionally wrecking someone, we would do anything at any time to win a race. But don't expect a new rule or changes to the agreement in the near future. Unless it becomes a huge problem, Helton said NASCAR won't implement a "field freeze" when the yellow comes out. CART and IRL do it, but they generally only have 20 or so cars on the lead lap when a caution comes out. NASCAR has 43 cars, and most of them are on the lead lap until very late in the race. The gentlemen's agreement is in no way a formal agreement and certainly cannot be upheld. The competition is simply too great to "give" anyone his lap back.
Who's next on soft wall list?After working with the University of Nebraska, the Loudon and Richmond tracks will now be getting the soft walls. It's a great day for the sport, and I stand by these tracks getting soft walls. Martinsville, Pocono and Phoenix should be next in line to receive these walls. With different banking and setups, it will take time for soft walls to go up at all Winston Cup tracks, but sometimes I just cringe when we visit tracks that could definitely benefit from these walls. Safety is very important, and I hope that this is the start of every track getting the safety features it needs. FOX race analyst Larry McReynolds has more than 25 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, crew chief and broadcaster. He and his fellow Crew Chief Club members take you behind the wall at
"Larry McReynolds: The Big Picture" is on bookstore shelves now, or you may order your own autographed copy from www.DWStore.com.