Opinion: NASCAR should fine crew members who interfere in driver scuffles

It’s one thing to witness a scuffle following a race, and there’s no doubt it can often times be some of the best excitement following a race weekend. Remember Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski at Texas in 2014? Kyle Busch and Joey Logano at Las Vegas in 2017? Or even Logano and Tony Stewart at Fontana in 2013?

Those are just a few scuffles where excitement was drawn due to the drivers who race on a weekly basis getting heated and throwing hands. What always manages to screw things up, though, is when the crew gets involved. That’s not to say it’s not fun to watch them exchange fists, but it can get out of hand sometimes. Case in point: The Tyler Reddick/Cole Custer scuffle following Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race.

It wasn’t even much of a scuffle at first. First words and a couple of stiff shoves were exchanged. No harm yet. But once the crews came bounding in to pull the drivers apart the emotions were high enough that Reddick ended up taking a few shots to the face and ended up with a bloody patch above the eye.

It’s not the first time it’s happened, but it isn’t necessary. Whatever happened on the track is between the drivers. They’re the ones who usually bring about the carnage and the heated emotions. Sure, it’s up to the crew to have their driver’s back, but they also need to make it a point to save their drivers from themselves. Otherwise on-track issues should always remain between those who are actually on-track: The drivers.

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In the NHL a player is ejected and suspended if they leave the bench to join a fight. This could be a useful approach in NASCAR and an effective way to remind the crews to keep their emotions in check. For every crew member who lands an errant punch on a driver, that’s a one-race suspension effective immediately.

That would be an effective way to keep the crews in check and send a reminder to the teams that their crew better be on their best behaviors. The fights aren’t about the teams, they’re about the drivers and should be settled as such. If the drivers are going to be settling issues with their fists instead of their bumpers (as should be the case), then the only things crews should be worried about is separating the drivers.

That said, the Reddick/Custer scuffle was otherwise handled the way it should have been. The drivers didn’t use their cars as instruments of anger, they used their words and fists. That’s the way a disagreement between drivers should always be handled. The crews need to stay out of it and should only be looking out for their drivers, which doesn’t constitute swinging on the other driver.

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