Scenedaily posted an article today about Nascar re-evaluating its "Boys Have at It" policy. (Scenedaily has been absolutely loaded with great articles during the offseason by the way). Anyway, thoughts on the situation? Was it time to re-evaluate? Should there be new lines drawn, and what would they be? Can they ever actually draw absolute lines for this?
Here's a copy of the article....
CHARLOTTE - NASCAR officials plan to re-evaluate its "boys have at it" policy going into the 2012 season and could strengthen its stance against drivers retaliating on the track.
NASCAR loosened the reins on drivers in 2010, allowing them to police themselves on the track and retaliate when they believed another driver had intentionally wrecked them.
The incidents intensified in 2011, and NASCAR officials acknowledged that things might have gotten out of hand near the end of the season.
"We reflect on that at the end of the year and the season hasn't started yet, but there are some things that a group of us will sit down and talk about, and that is one of them," NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said Thursday.
"There were times that it got out of hand, and we're going to discuss what out of hand really is moving forward."
NASCAR officials came down hard on Kyle Busch in November for retaliating against Ron Hornaday Jr. in a truck series race at Texas. Busch turned Hornaday into the wall under caution after the two had a run-in under green.
Busch, who had been on probation earlier in the year and was involved in a yearlong feud with Kevin Harvick and his teams, was parked during the race at Texas and suspended for the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races that weekend.
Pemberton said Busch's actions crossed the line for two reasons: he wrecked Hornaday under caution; and he hooked him in the right rear bumper, sending Hornaday's truck nose-first into the wall.
"It's the type of retaliation that you want to look at," Pemberton said. "That happened under caution, that's one thing. Green-flag retaliation is another thing. Each case is different enough that we have got to sit down and get our heads around it as a group.
"The one thing that sticks in people's mind is hooking a guy in the right rear. Giving a guy a bumper shot and doing different things, there are differences in that. But the thing that becomes more clear to those of us who are discussing these matters, when you hook a guy in the right rear, that's something that needs to get looked at."
Busch was involved in several incidents of retaliation last year, most involving Harvick or Harvick-affiliated drivers after the two tangled at Darlington in May.
But he wasn't the only one. Brian Vickers retaliated against Tony Stewart at Infineon Raceway in June and against Matt Kenseth in back-to-back races at Martinsville and Phoenix near the end of the season.
Juan Pablo Montoya, Kurt Busch and even five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson also were involved in acts of retaliation.
Pemberton said he doesn't believe the trend of retaliation in general got out of hand, although specific incidents may have crossed the line.
"You have these one-off spontaneous things that happen," he said. "It's what happens inside the cockpit when a driver gets enraged and loses control, and quite honestly, it only happens a few times.
"You have to remember, there are thousands and thousands of miles of racing with a lot of competitors in all of our national series, and we only get in the headlines a few times for these things."
Pemberton pointed out that there is a big difference between retaliating at a short track like half-mile Martinsville and at a 1.5-mile, high-speed track like Texas.
"You're under caution at Martinsville and you're running 35 mph and at Texas you're at the end of the straightaway at 170 mph," Pemberton said. "The intent of doing something may be the same, but the results and the lack of understanding of your surroundings and what happens aren't always right."
Pemberton, who coined the phrase "boys have at it" in 2010, believes NASCAR's original position of allowing drivers to police themselves still works.
"It's working pretty well. It goes in stages," he said. "It works pretty well, then somebody gets outside the box and everybody gets the message and it goes back to working pretty well. But we can't take all of that for granted."