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Just in: Blocking is not against the rules

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com | ThatsRacin.com
Wednesday, Apr. 03, 2013

This just in: Blocking is not against the rules in NASCAR.

Actually, it’s not just in, but with all the discussion the past two weeks over Tony Stewart’s criticism of Joey Logano’s blocking move at Auto Club Speedway, you’d think the issue somehow remained unaddressed in NASCAR.

For as long as NASCAR has existed, there has never been anything in the rulebook (in any of its three national series) prohibiting blocking.

Other motorsports series do frown on the practice – notably Formula One and IndyCar.

That doesn’t mean it might not always be appropriate, in terms of driver etiquette.

Now, some drivers might decide they won’t tolerate it from their competitors and vow to wreck those who do it, even though they employ the move themselves. Please see Stewart on multiple occasions in regards to that example.

Ryan Newman, during a teleconference this week, went so far as to call blocking “a chicken way of driving.” Yet he often is selected as the driver most difficult to pass.

The newest big story in NASCAR might be the use of blocking, but the bottom line is, the issue of right or wrong lies in the eyes of drivers affected.

As long as there remains no guideline to its use in the NASCAR rulebook, the only ramifications will be from competitors.

For 60-plus years that appears to have been enough to keep the practice in check.

But even if it isn’t, this still is racing.

If someone is trying to get by a driver, why would they expect to complete the pass without being fast enough to do so?

Notes

Vickers returns to No. 55: Brian Vickers will make his second start this season for Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 55 Toyota team Sunday at Martinsville, Va.

The native of Thomasville finished 18th and eighth last season at Martinsville for MWR.

“This team continues to show every time they hit the track that they have something to prove,” Vickers said. “We all sat together at the beginning of the season for a dinner and just talked about our thoughts, goals and plans for the year – and it was to keep the momentum going.”

Jones set for Truck debut: Erik Jones will try to make the first of his five planned starts in the NASCAR Truck Series this weekend at Martinsville for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Jones, 16, is taking advantage of a rule modification this season which allows those younger than 18 to race at tracks 1.1 miles or shorter, as well as road courses.

“I’m used to racing on short tracks, so I don’t think that running Martinsville will be a big jump,” Jones said. “I think the biggest challenge will be getting used to the feel of the truck in practice on Friday.”

Harvick looks to tie record: This weekend’s race is one of two planned starts in the Truck series this season for Kevin Harvick.

He has won three of the past four spring Truck races at the track. A victory this weekend would give Harvick four at Martinsville, tying the record held by Truck veteran Dennis Setzer.

Off-week winner: While NASCAR took last weekend off, Cup driver Dave Blaney scored a victory in the season-opening race at Port Royal Speedway (Pa.). Blaney drove a  10 Sprint car he designed and built.

Next race

STP 500

Where: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway

When: 1 p.m. Sunday

TV: Fox

Radio: Motor Racing Network

Last year’s winner: Ryan Newman

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