NASCAR Needs More Black Flags To Curb Over-Aggressive Driving At Daytona, Beyond

NASCAR: Coca-Cola 600

Bubba Wallace waited on the temporary track’s shoulder for the target of his anger to come into view. The hard-luck NASCAR Cup Series driver wanted to be sure Austin Dillon knew just how he felt during the closing laps of the Clash at the Coliseum on Feb. 5. 

Sure, it was an exhibition, but Wallace was not about to let the moment – or Dillon – pass without serving notice.  

Like so many of his peers in the past few seasons, Wallace executed intentional, on-track retaliation. With over-aggressive driving becoming in vogue, race officials can fight back. They could issue a delayed reckless driving penalty, as they did to Wallace, or they can get serious and start waving black flags.

Starting with Sunday’s Daytona 500.

Black Flags Could Detour Over-Aggressive Driving

Chris Gabehart, Denny Hamlin’s crew chief, said Cup Series officials need to resort to the drastic tactic to help curb the rising trend of vengeful driving.

Black flags could be the antidote.

If an on-track penalty is assessed and a black flag flies, drivers must report to pit road, losing time and laps. It could prove to be the ultimate deterrent, said Gabehart, whose driver was involved in a series of mix-ups during the Clash.

With confidence in the Next Gen car’s durability, drivers are taking greater liberties, bumper-to-bumper.

Wallace can vouch for that.

After Wallace led for 40 laps at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum’s quarter-mile track, Dillon deliberately bumped the halftime leader out of contention with seven rotations remaining. Frustrated, Wallace didn’t attempt to join the end of the pack. He sat and waited for Dillon to pass. And when he did. BAM!

Message sent.

NASCAR needs to send its own.

Chris Gabehart: ‘Put Some Teeth’ In Black Flags

The Clash’s second edition turned into a bumper-car event. Granted, it was a non-points race on a track that is about one-fifth of the 2.5-mile track at Daytona International Speedway, but drivers do not appear to respect the sport as they once did.

Tough driving used to be an art form.

Now, it’s commonplace. Everyone thinks they can be “The Intimidator.”

Gabehart knows a remedy and discussed it during an appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

“The black flag is used in every other form of racing that I’ve ever been a part of and, yes, it is a subjective use,” he said, using other sports to prove his point. “So are balls and strikes, (and) so are pass interference calls in football. That’s part of it.

“But if you put some teeth in the hands of the flagman or race control with something as simple as a black flag and you tell the drivers that — get out of line, we’re going to use this subjective means to course correct you live, and in the event, like other racing series do. Instantaneously you’re going to see the drivers behave differently because that fear is now put in them.”

Lost time and laps.

The drivers’ ultimate deterrent.

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