McREYNOLDS: Petty Enterprises shouldn't use drivers as scapegoats

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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.

I think the world of the Pettys, and Richard Petty is called "The King" for a reason. It is a well-deserved title. However, there have been a lot of driver changes and unrest at Petty Enterprises, but hopefully they will realize that the problems are not necessarily driver-related. was not the problem this year, and was not the problem last year. I just hope they can look at the entire organization and see it's a lot of little things from all areas and the blame for poor performance can't be placed on the pilots alone. There's always more to it, and they need to evaluate all the areas of operation. On the competition side, if you are off just a wee bit on motor, a tad off on chassis and just a tick off on aero, it will all adds up. You will struggle, and unfortunately, sometimes you will go home like the 43 and the 44 did last week in Daytona. The 43 car is out of provisionals, and that's a lot of pressure on a young driver like . The No. 4 Morgan-McClure team is in the same boat, and they are putting in that car for this weekend's race at Chicagoland. Without provisionals, it's a lot of pressure for a young, new driver attempting to make his Winston Cup debut.

Gentlemen, please your sponsors

Last 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 www.crewchiefclub.com.

"Larry McReynolds: The Big Picture" is on bookstore shelves now, or you may order your own autographed copy from www.DWStore.com.

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