Long: Society’s soft stance infiltrates testosterone-fueled NASCAR

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FORT WORTH, Texas – So NASCAR racing has come to this – grade-school silliness.

Narcissistic drivers who feel they must be called after every accident regardless of fault, smacks of a child who must get their way or they’ll scream.

In a society softened by participation ribbons and sensitive feelings, such things have infiltrated this testosterone-driven sport known for its hardscrabble roots and door-slamming action.

And so two races before the Sprint Cup championship is determined, one of the issues is if and when a driver should call a competitor after an accident.

In some cases, it’s worth calling a competitor after an accident to explain one’s side or apologize. But if a driver doesn’t feel they caused an accident then why is there a belief in the garage that a phone call still should be made?

That strikes as disingenuous.

“What does that mean?’’ Clint Bowyer says with a laugh.

He might not know what the word means, but he gets it on when to reach out to a competitor after a run-in.

“If it was ugly and somebody that you don’t care about or you don’t feel like you owe them anything, don’t waste their time with an insincere phone call,’’ Bowyer said at Texas Motor Speedway, which hosts Sunday’s Sprint Cup race. “If it’s a relationship you respect and cherish, you owe them whatever it takes to make that relationship good, just like in fourth grade.’’

This issue has become a topic since Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth made contact racing for the lead in the final laps last month at Kansas Speedway and Kenseth spun. Logano didn’t call Kenseth. Didn’t feel he needed to do so. Said it was hard racing. What would there be to say in a phone call with Kenseth?

Oh, I’m sorry you wrecked because you blocked me and I held my ground and you couldn’t keep control of your car.

Yeah, that would go over real well.

Even if Logano had called Kenseth, it likely wouldn’t have kept Kenseth from exacting revenge. Running 10 laps off the pace, Kenseth wrecked Logano last weekend at Martinsville Speedway while Logano led. NASCAR suspended Kenseth for two races.

Jeff Gordon admits there are times when a driver doesn’t need to call a competitor.

“I don’t think you should just be calling because you are thinking of the big picture, and you are thinking, ‘Boy I want to make sure that this person doesn’t have payback because I can’t win the championship without it,’ ‘’ Gordon said. “I think that is the wrong reason. I think if you genuinely feel like you were in the wrong and you owe them an apology, and you have their phone number, then it is great if you want to call them.”

Kevin Harvick admits every situation is different and he’s right. There’s a level of respect that needs to be paid. He also says drivers have a good understanding of what happened.

“You look at the situation and hopefully people understand when they go back and watch the tape in situations and know that it wasn’t something that was intentional,’’ he said.

Some will say that by reaching out, a driver does their part and if their foe doesn’t answer or respond, that’s on them. For all this talk, there isn’t a clear-cut method. One driver wasn’t aware of the need to do this earlier in their career. Another veteran admitted that competitors simply are not good communicators.

Carl Edwards goes by a simple rule on when he needs to contact another driver.

“If you do feel bad about it at all, it’s important to let them know,’’ he said. “Going the other way, if something happens to me and someone doesn’t say that was inadvertent; I do assume it was on purpose. That’s how I take it.”

Brad Keselowski laughs about all the talk about calling a competitor.

“The same people that seem to say all the time that they want a phone call when they get wrecked are the same ones that don’t call you when they wreck you,’’ he said. “Make of that what you will.”