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Yellow Line Rule Change Would Make Little Difference

Following last weekend’s wild last lap wreck [1] during the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, a lot of attention has been given to safety — not only for drivers, but for fans as well.

By now, we’ve all heard the quotes. Edwards said:

Brad [Keselowski] did a great job. Congrats to him on the win, but [NASCAR] put us in this box and I guess we’ll race like this until we kill somebody. And then they’ll change it.

He also said:

I was very fortunate we hit the wall in a way that it didn’t crush my roll cage down on my neck because that would have been a lot worse. NASCAR just puts us in this box. I’m glad the car didn’t go up in the grandstands and hurt somebody.

Keselowski talked about the yellow line rule, saying:

The yellow line is there to prevent us from running underneath each other and prevent us from being crazy. But the bottom line is, that’s who we are. We are all crazy race car drivers and we are going to run into each other. The yellow line could be six feet high or six feet low and we would still run into each other. That’s what we do. It’s a give-and-take sport and as races go on, it’s a challenge of who is going to lift and who is not, and it’s testing each other every moment.

We all remember what happened last year when Regan Smith went below the yellow line [2], so there was no way Keselowski was going to make the same mistake [3].

And while I completely agree that it is a tragedy when fans get injured [4], I’m not sure that the yellow line rule should be changed.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think that yellow line rule triggered the accident. I also think it leads to more aggressive blocking. But, if NASCAR decided to get rid of the rule, drivers would go below it to pass, and other drivers would go below it to block.

Taking Sunday’s wreck into consideration, do you think that if Keselowski dipped below the yellow line (assuming there was no penatly for doing so) that Edwards would not have practically driven him into the grass to win? I’m willing to bet he would have.

If the two had made contact at the same place, at the same time and in the same way, below the yellow line, who’s to say Edwards’ car would not have made it to the catchfence?

Sunday’s wreck was a freak accident that was the result of many different circumstances. Keselowski got a huge run on Edwards and put a good double move on him. Edwards didn’t realize how far alongside him Keselowski got.

When he spun, Edwards’ rear tires came off the ground, but were on their way down when Ryan Newman hit him, sending him airborne. If Newman was not there, Edwards would have just spun out and it would have been the end of the story.

Again, it’s tragic that fans got hurt. But, in the grand scheme of things, it could have been worse. Edwards’ car could have made it to the stands if the fence had not held. But, it didn’t because the safety device did its job.

I’m all for making changes to improve safety, but let’s not change the rules in a knee-jerk fashion just because of a freak accident. After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And the yellow line rule ain’t broke.