DARLINGTON, S.C. — While some Cup drivers say they should be allowed to fight as in pro hockey, NASCAR will not adjust its guidelines to permit that.
A NASCAR spokesperson told NBC Sports on Saturday that series officials are directed not to get involved in a conflict between drivers but let NASCAR’s security team handle the matter. NASCAR relies on its security team members and their decades of law enforcement experience and training to assess situations and react.
Some drivers are disappointed that NASCAR security stopped Noah Gragson from retaliating after Ross Chastain punched him on pit road last weekend at Kansas Speedway.
“I feel like security stepped in about 10 seconds too quick,” Kyle Busch said Saturday at Darlington Raceway. “You let one guy get a hell of a hit and then you block the other guy from getting a hit back. You got to at least let the guy (punched) try (to punch back).
“I would seriously urge NASCAR to go with some hockey rules: Once you get to the ground we’re going to break it up, or once one of you guys looks gassed, we’re going to break it up.
“Let them get a good 30 seconds in. It’s going to be way better for TV and ratings are going to go off the charts.”
Daniel Suarez said he felt security stopped the incident between Gragson and Chastain too early.
“I think they should have let them go for a little bit, maybe not as much as in hockey, but a little bit because they have to get their emotions out,” Suarez said.
William Byron also said he’s for drivers fighting but that it should be done in a designated area.
“This sport is so emotional,” Byron said, explaining why drivers should be able to fight. “You guys don’t see a lot of the emotion that we carry inside the helmet. That’s the part of this sport that is different from every other sport. Sometimes letting some of that emotion out after the race is healthy.
“Like Ross said, it kind of got them on the same page after the fact. Kind of being able to scuffle a little bit and get some emotions out kind of gets you past it quicker.”
Kevin Harvick isn’t convinced that those who say they want to fight really do.
“I think they’re all full of talk, personally,” Harvick said. “There’s only a couple of them that aren’t. Until they stand there and brawl, let’s see if that’s actually what they want. I’d say most of them don’t want that.”
Harvick admits it might not have been fair for Gragson to have been hit with a punch and not had a chance to counter “but he also went down there (to Chastain). I’ve always been told to swing first, swing hard.”
Harvick also notes that if drivers were left to fight, what would happen if one got hit in the face, fell and smacked his or her head on the ground.
“It’s not as cool anymore,” Harvick said.
Harvick can help dictate how one racing series reacts in such situations.
Harvick is a co-owner in the Cars Tour with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton and Justin Marks. Harvick was asked what would happen if drivers in that series fought.
“The thing that we’ve talked about as a group is that we’d throw them out,” Harvick said. “If that was the Cars Tour, there would most likely be a penalty.”
A fight, though, would bring attention to that series, Harvick was told.
“If you need attention that way,” Harvick said, “we’re doing something wrong.”