Bump and Run: Should NASCAR penalize crew members for interceding in fights?

NBC Sports Staff

After another driver altercation featured crew members swarming and escalating the situation, should NASCAR create a rule that any crew member who intervenes in an altercation be fined or suspended? Or is there another way to address the matter?

Nate Ryan: No. If people get injured, react accordingly. Otherwise, no discipline for shoving matches, provided they don’t become a weekly recurrence for a driver or team.

Dustin Long: Suspend any crew members a minimum two races for getting involved. Leave it to NASCAR and security to break it up if two drivers want to fight.

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Daniel McFadin: Absolutely. The bigger the altercation, the more dangerous it is. The only exception I can think of is if crew members are trying to keep a driver from going after another driver who is still sitting in their car (like Clint Bowyer and Ryan Newman in the All-Star Race).

Jerry Bonkowski: While watching fights between drivers and teams is high drama and makes for good TV, yes, NASCAR should implement a rule that prevents crew members from becoming involved in altercations that begin with drivers. However, it’s understandable if team members want to protect their driver, especially if the fight becomes one-sided — either the one driver dominates the other, or team members jump in to outnumber the other driver. But if other sports can eject/fine players that leave the sidelines/bench/dugout to be involved in brawls, why can’t NASCAR do the same?

In Saturday’s Xfinity race, a car five laps down got in the way of the leaders and caused them to crash late in the event. To avoid a slower car impacting a race like that in the future, should NASCAR have a rule that any car more than three laps down with 20 laps left is parked? Or is there a better solution?

Nate Ryan: I think Kyle Larson is onto something about raising minimum speeds. But lapped cars always will play a role in races with at least 30 cars and a three-hour duration.

Dustin Long: No. If you think a rule like this is necessary, then maybe you should look at the approval process for drivers. Lapped cars are part of racing. What are you going to do next? If a team has a mechanical issue they get a do-over? Stop with the nonsense and overreaction. Quit trying to micro-manage things!

Daniel McFadin: No thank you. Incidents like Saturday’s don’t happen often enough to warrant that. Also, if you take away lapped cars, you’re removing an element that can help set up exciting finishes or a dramatic lead change.

Jerry Bonkowski: While I understand the rationale to park out-of-contention cars late in a race, does any other sport allow non-playoff teams to compete with playoff teams? Or do other sports force teams to end a game early if one team is so far behind it has no realistic chance of catching up in a limited amount of time? Of course not. If cars three or more laps down are parked, is it fair to see them intentionally sidelined, particularly at short tracks where they — in theory — have the potential to make up one or two laps in the closing laps? Again, of course not. Short of NASCAR forcing out-of-contention cars to only run below the white line wherever possible (not factoring in a place like Talladega) in the final 20 laps, thus keeping those cars out of the way of playoff cars as much as possible, is there really a viable other option?

Who are the four Cup drivers you think will make it to Miami and race for a Cup title?

Nate Ryan: My Championship 4 picks on Feb. 12 were: Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin. Before the playoffs began, I subbed Martin Truex Jr. for Elliott.

Dustin Long: Joe Gibbs Racing reunion (Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr.) and Chase Elliott.

Daniel McFadin: Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson

Jerry Bonkowski: This year’s playoffs has been one of the most unpredictable ones to date under the current format. Drivers you thought might make it to Miami have either been eliminated or didn’t even qualify. That being said, I predict Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch will advance to Miami.

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