NASCAR had a really good opening to its season with exciting Budweiser Duel races, a really close finish in the Camping World Truck Series race, an even closer finish in the Nationwide Series race, and also a very exciting Daytona 500 even if it did take 10 hours. The low point of the weekend though was NASCAR's penalty handed to James Buescher, driver of the No. 99 RAB Racing Toyota, during the DRIVE4COPD 300 Nationwide Series race on Saturday.
A new rule has been implemented by NASCAR in the Nationwide Series where tandem drafting will be penalized. The issue is that it is NASCAR's discretion of whether a tandem draft has been performed or if it was just legal bump drafting.
Throughout the race cars were getting on the bumper of the car in front and bumping and then getting off and then getting right back on and bumping again especially down Daytona International Speedway's 3,000 foot backstretch. The outside line was not working at all to keep up with the inside line without very aggressive bump drafting. What Buescher did to get nabbed with the penalty, or at least what ESPN showed, did not look any different from what went on all race long and especially in the closing laps with the while dash to the checkered flag.
The way the Nationwide Series cars' bodies are and rule package is set up makes it so easy to push draft or tandem draft and NASCAR needs a better way to police the act or they just need to legalize the tandem draft again until they make a new Nationwide Series body style that gets rid of it like what happened in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and even what seemed to work in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday night with the new body style for the trucks.
Buescher was baffled by the penalty called on him.
"When they made the rule at the test, NASCAR said no locking of bumpers, front or rear," said Buescher, who won the Nationwide Series race two seasons ago at Daytona. "They said if you bounce off the car in front of you, there's no call. As far as I'm concerned, there was only bouncing. Never locked the bumper. I haven't seen a replay, so I don’t know exactly what they're saying was the time I got called on, but we had been bouncing off everybody's bumpers all day. Everybody had."
Also NASCAR did not pinpoint when they saw the penalty occur or make a video replay available to satisfy Buescher's team and the fans watching the race.
NASCAR did not penalize the car which Buescher was in tandem with which was Brad Keselowski even though they said both could be penalized under the rule. The way the tandem draft worked was with both drivers in cooperation and the lead car usually dragging the break a little to stay locked to the following car.
Buescher was running eighth at the time of the pass through penalty down pit road and was fortunate to catch a caution that kept him on the lead lap. He could only get a 16th place finish out of the day after being stuck back in traffic late in the race due to the penalty.
By taking away the tandem draft NASCAR made a safety decision which is fine. But if the cars are not going to be changed to save the teams money then there needs to be a better way to police tandem drafting. Or at least a better process where NASCAR releases the video footage to the penalized team right away so they can see what they did wrong.
NASCAR made an example out of Buescher on Saturday when the race was getting dicey but it just felt unfair since he was the only driver punished all race long.
- Tandem Drafting to Be Penalized in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series
- Nationwide News and Notes: Cassill in, Wallace Out at JD Motorsports, James Buescher Joins RAB Racing
- Regan Smith Bumped to NASCAR Nationwide Series Win at Daytona International Speedway
- James Buescher Makes Career Changing Decision to Move on from Turner Scott Motorsports
- James Buescher Wins Fan Appreciation 200 at Iowa Speedway
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