When a Sprint Cup Series driver injures himself in anything other than a Cup race, like Tony Stewart did, it starts the debate over whether or not owners and sponsors should restrict drivers’ activities to protect their investment. It’s a fair point.
Drivers are what drive NASCAR, both literally and figuratively. Johnson, Earnhardt, Keselowski, Hamlin… these are the guys among others who are pushing merchandise – funding their teams and the sport. The majority of fans don’t tune into a NASCAR event to see a car or team win; they want to see their driver win. So, it is only natural for sponsors and team owners to want to protect that money-maker.
But, I think that’s really the wrong conversation to have right now.
Racers like Stewart are never going to stop competing in sprint car or modified events. It’s a way of life for these guys. So, attempting to restrict their ability to compete isn’t really worth discussing, to me.
Instead, I think the more beneficial conversation to have is about safety at these smaller events and venues.I’m hoping things like Jason Leffler’s tragic death and Tony Stewart’s injury lead to more safety innovations in these smaller series that will benefit all drivers.