Monday, March 9th, 2009 1:36pm UTC
By Luke, Thunder Lounge
Published on Thunder Lounge.
This is getting out of hand. Completely.
In case you’ve been in a hole since they ran the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta, let me catch you up real quick.
The scenario: All but 6 cars have made green flag pit stops, early on in the race.
The situation: A tire escapes from the crew of Marcos Ambrose’s #47 Toyota Camry, which quickly takes off and rolls across pit road, and along the “road” of that little flat track in the infield.
So here you have a tire rolling towards cars moving at 180MPH+. Needless to say, it’s a horror story waiting to happen.
In a quick response the Gas Man, Mr. Jimmy Watts, scans for cars coming down pit road, and then hauls the mail after it. NASCAR throws a caution, all but 6 cars are trapped at least a lap down, and the drama ensues.
No, it’s not smart to run into the infield grass when cars are running 180MPH+ on the track. It’s dangerous, and foolhardy.
After quickly scanning the situation (noticing that it was clear to make a dash not only across pit row, but also noticing that there wasn’t and cars wrecking into the infield grass), Jimmy made the dash.
Let’s get a few things straight. As I said, it wasn’t smart. Look at the situation though. A tire is rolling quickly towards the racing surface, and at the time there was no indication it wouldn’t make it. How many cars would it have tore up? Could it have possibly been booted into the stands? Into the infield campgrounds? A lot of people could have been hurt. So the one (Jimmy Watts) sacrifices himself (and his NASCAR credentials) to make an effort to stop it before a lot of people could have been hurt.
Before you call bullshit, I kindly remind you of an incident at Charlotte recently. Remember the tire that got bopped into the infield and hit that camper? Yes, it can happen.
Now, a lot of blame has been placed on Jimmy for causing the caution. Again, that’s bullshit too. NASCAR would have thrown one anyway because the tire was in the infield. Like it or not, the yellow laundry was coming out, regardless of whether Jimmy went after it or let it play out.
It was a quick decision to try and ensure the safety of all, by sacrificing the safety of the one. No, it wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but hindsight is always 20/20 (or Logano/Logano if you prefer). At the time the tire was rolling, there was no way to know it wasn’t going to stop. By the time it was evident, Jimmy was all but on top of the tire.
While he did violate NASCAR rules, this is being way over dramatized. Not only in the garage, but in the media as well. The caution would have come out anyway. Period. So get over it, it was coming. Instead of nailing this guy’s ass to the wall, grow a pair and at least show a little thanks as this situation could have been much, much worse. If you want to hang someone out to dry, the tire shouldn’t have been in that situation to begin with. But things happen. The tire got away, a car knocked it and sent it rolling, and there you have it.
Quit busting this poor guy’s chops over it. It was reckless, yes, but it was also a self-sacrifice to potentially save someones life. It didn’t come to that, but it could have. Something which was unknown until he was well across the infield.
Update: March 10th, 2009
“DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Jimmy Watts, a crew member for the No. 47 team in the Sprint Cup Series, has been suspended from the next four races (until April 22) for rule violations during this past Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Watts was found to have violated Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 9-15-U (crew members must not go on the race track for any reason while the cars are racing or while the cars are running under the yellow flag or the red flag, unless otherwise directed to do so by a NASCAR official). Watts has also been placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.
In addition, Frank Kerr, crew chief for the No. 47, has been placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31 for violating Sections 12-1 and 9-4-A (crew chief assumes responsibility for the actions of the team).”
You know what? That’s just fine. The potential loss of human life is worth it. Hold your heads high, guys. While there are always consequences for our actions, this is by far the lesser of two evils. Don’t listen to all the arm-chair crew chief’s out there, they weren’t there. Sometimes the right thing is the hardest thing to do, and the toughest pill to swallow. Had Jimmy not went after it, and something happened, they would have been bitching that you guys sat there and did nothing. End result, they’re always going to bitch no matter what happens.