NASCAR’s Mike Helton addresses blocking in drivers meeting

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton warned drivers in Sunday night’s drivers meeting about blocking.

Helton explained the genesis of the double yellow line at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway before getting into a discussion about blocking. Drivers are not permitted to go below the yellow lines to advance their position. If so, NASCAR will penalize them. If a driver blocks and forces a competitor below the yellow lines, the driver doing the blocking may be penalized.

“I point to that because blocking is kind of creeping that way here and at Talladega,” Helton said told the competitors. “Last night’s race, I think, was an example of the unintended consequences that can come from a blocking move. I’m not telling you how to drive a racecar. Lord no, I couldn’t do that. But drivers be conscious about the moves you’re making on the racetrack, particularly when it comes to what we call blocking. Be thinking about that in tonight’s race.”

Brian Scott’s block triggered a crash that involved 12 cars in the final laps of Saturday night’s Xfinity race.

Ryan Newman asked Richard Buck, Sprint Cup director, in the pre-race meeting about what constitutes crossing the double yellow line. Newman said he was asking because the SAFER barriers have narrowed the backstretch. Buck said: “That’s the left side tires on the inside of the inside line.’’

Other competitors also had questions.

Jeff Gordon asked about safety vehicles on pit road when it is open and if there is a plan to prevent that from being repeated. Last week, Matt DiBenedetto was clipped by a safety truck trying to enter his pit stall and spun.

Buck said there is a plan to avoid that incident in the future: “It was pretty simply and very clearly a miscommunication,” Buck said. “We communicated to them and the team did not hear the communication, therefore did not follow the directive.”

Gordon then asked about how quickly the pit entry light shows that pit road is open by a flashing green light.

Buck said: “At the earliest opportunity we will turn that light to green and (NASCAR) will say over the radio that the pit road will be open to the caution car. So, you’ll get the earliest warning that you can, the light will go green when pit road is open and you’ll also get the communication over the radio.”

Jimmie Johnson asked if the spotters can see the pit entry light from their new location.

Buck said: “Yes. The light is very visible from the tower where we’re at as well as where the spotters are at. There’s also the audible command over the radio as we normally do.

Carl Edwards asked about the pit entry flag person.

Buck said: “You’re keying off the light. It’s the one signal, the light. If we do have a failure for any reason, electronic, mechanical or anything like that, that’s when the flag will take over. The flag person will be there the whole time. Just will not display the flag.”