Tandem drafting has produced some of the wildest finishes in NASCAR history, but also has resulted in some very violent wrecks. NASCAR’s Robin Pemberton stated earlier today that any driver that partakes in two-car tandem drafting from this day forth, will consequently be black flagged and penalized. The decision to ban the practice in the Nationwide and Truck divisions came about after concerned car owners went to the sport’s executives. In 2013, we saw some brutal, vicious wrecks at the conclusions of a few plate races and unfortunately, people were hurt.
The Kyle Larson crash at Daytona (over 30 fans injured) and the wreck on the final lap of last fall’s Truck race at Talladega (Miguel Paludo flipped and Justin Lofton suffered a broken wrist) are the incidents that many believe prompted NASCAR to make this decision. I can’t help but wonder, though, what makes a snarling pack of 30 cars racing toward the checkered flag any safer than 20 in two-car tandems?
Along with banning the act of tandem drafting, NASCAR plans to make a few altercations to the cars that will take the advantage of drivers hooking up in that fashion away. It’s similar to the steps taken to ensure that tandem drafting would end in the Sprint Cup Series. The main changes being looked at involve reducing the front grille openings, which will cause the cars to overheat quicker and implementing smaller rear spoilers so that the front car doesn’t punch such a big hole in the air. NASCAR said that although tandems are now illegal, bump drafting is still allowed.
I understand where they are coming from here, but it’s going to be a difficult policy to enforce, especially in the closing laps of a race. Personally, I think they should just let the drivers do it until they figure out a way to take the advantage of it away. It’s an extra boost of speed that could mean the difference between 20th or a win, so as long as the temptation is there, racers are going to attempt to do it. It’s like giving a child candy, but telling them that they can never eat it. As a result, we’ll see controversial penalties and situations where there was no action taken, but there should have been. It’s really an unnecessary headache in my opinion.
We tried to control drafting a few years ago in Cup … that didn’t work out too well.
Nick DeGroot is a Contributing Writer For Rant Sports NASCAR. Connect With Him on Twitter @ndegroot89