NASCAR America: Is NASCAR ‘dumbing down’ the sport for ‘parity’?

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NASCAR will see a number of changes in 2018, from Dale Earnhardt Jr. being officially retired to an even greater presence of young drivers.

There’ll also be rules changes, particularly the number of crew members that will be allowed over the wall to service race cars. One of those changes will include gas men being unable to do anything else but just fuel cars (in the past, they’ve been able to make adjustments and help out their fellow crew members, if needed).

On Monday’s NASCAR America, analysts Dale Jarrett, Steve Letarte and Kyle Petty all gave their thoughts on the new rule changes, particularly the over-the-wall limits.

Here’s some of what they had to say:

LETARTE: “Going from six to five, in my opinion, I’m not a fan. I don’t like it. I liked pit stops better than there were seven (over the wall members). While parity is the goal and while the rules should be in place to give every team the opportunity to go out and compete, I don’t see how limiting the number going over pit road is helping this at all.

“Now there is no argument over safety. Less people over the pit wall is safer, there’s no argument. But going from six to five and basically making the gas man only the gas man, means the other four have to be the most elite athletes, the best of the best, and I don’t think that creates parity.

“If anything, I think it’s the opposite. I think that the biggest teams, the ones with the deepest pockets, the ones that can get the best of the best, the Tom Brady’s of tire changers or jackmen, will have a distinct advantage. If anything, I think this separates the playing field more than it levels it.”

JARRETT: “I just see this as being something I’m not going to be a fan of. We’ll see how it works out. NASCAR has done a lot of good things to enhance the competition over the years, but every year we seem to get in a cost-saving mode, these owners are going to spend whatever it takes and some people will probably make better money because of this.”

PETTY: “There’s been lots of innovations on pit road, and almost always when a change is made on pit road, it’s for safety. You’ll never hear me arguing about safety. … This is 2017, 2018. This is the way the game is played.

“But the problem I have for this announcement is parity, to change the sport and make it equal. We’re dumbing the sport down. We’re taking Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing have worked their rear ends off to develop (air) guns and things and to be better, now we’re saying, ‘That team over there, they can’t do that, so guess what, you don’t get to use it this week.’

“(That’s like) the Patriots play and the other team’s quarterback doesn’t have the same quarterback rating as (Tom) Brady, Brady doesn’t get to play because we’re just going to dumb the sport down so we play it to the lowest common denominator.

“That’s my problem with parity. We should not have it. It’s up to the teams to go out and know how to win, to work towards winning. It’s not NASCAR’s job, and I’ve never felt to make me a winner. … If I can’t do it, that’s life, dude. I go out of business. That’s life in the coffee, farm and grocery store business. It’s not their (NASCAR’s) job to equal the field. It’s my job as an owner or driver to put the right people in the right places to go out and win races.”

For all that Petty, Letarte and Jarrett had to say, check out the full video above.