Play hard, but play fair

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Darrell Waltrip

Darrell Waltrip — winner of 84 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and a three-time champion — serves as lead analyst for NASCAR on FOX. He was selected for induction into the prestigious NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2012. Want more from DW? Become a fan on Facebook or follow him on Twitter.

OK folks. I wasn't going to get my dog in this fight, but because of all of your e-mails, I guess I'll have to give you my opinion on Sunday's race... or lack thereof.

First of all, I want to make it perfectly clear. I'm not defending either Jeff Gordon or Matt Kenseth. I'm not defending anything. I've been accused of being the master of the obvious, and in this case, here's what's obvious to me. What happens on the track is obviously between the drivers, and there's my problem. Drivers should not be allowed to take matters into their own hands. Retaliation, grudges and paybacks are all part of sports. Any sport. That's why you have officials. There's not a sanctioning body in the world that would not have action on what happened Sunday or on any Sunday as far as that goes. And that includes NASCAR. After similar actions this year, NASCAR has shown that it will do something. In a situation just like what happened on Sunday, Carl Edwards bumped my brother Michael going into Turn 3 during last month's Busch race at Daytona, and Edwards was penalized. Good grief, folks! Carl and Michael weren't even racing for the lead. It doesn't matter if you're racing for the win, fifth or 15th, you have to respect the people racing around you.

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  • You don't just run over people because you're faster than they are, or they're in your way. I get so sick of hearing, "Well, it's just one of those racing things. They were just racing hard." Our sports is built on hard racing and competition, but keep it clean and fair. I love aggressive racing. I want to see guys get up on the wheel. I want to see them do everything they can to win, but I don't want to see one driver run over another driver just for the sake of knocking them out of the way so they can win the race. It's just not fair. Not only did NASCAR penalize Carl at Daytona, they did the same thing to Clint Bowyer earlier this year at the Phoenix Busch race when he got in the back of Jason Leffler. They sent Bowyer to the back of the field. They did the same thing to Michael in the Busch race at Las Vegas in March. Folks, I believe most drivers would agree that you've got to respect the leader of any race at any time. He didn't fall out of the sky and get in front; he did something right to get there. It's your job to race him, not wreck him. It's that way for all positions. You don't knock people out of your way just because you're faster than they are. That's not the way it works. NASCAR told the crew chiefs that if they were going to continue to stretch the rules, NASCAR would start upping the penalties. They suspend and fine crew chiefs, and they take away points. Well, if that's what they're going to do to crew chiefs, they've got to use the same rules and procedures for the drivers.

    Ask DW
    Jeff Gordon is on probation. What does that mean? I know that doesn't mean that you lock him up and put him in jail, but you've still got to take that into consideration for any driver. If NASCAR is going to tighten the inspection rules to keep all of the equipment equal, then how about using the same philosophy on the drivers? Probation, fines and suspensions are measures that they've taken, and they just don't work. They say they're going to up them, and that's what they need to think about doing to drivers in the future. My point is for the credibility of the sport, NASCAR needs to keep the cars legal and the race fair.
    Tagged: Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Jason Leffler

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