NASCAR to drivers: We're still in charge
By Lee Montgomery, Turner Sports Interactive June 20, 2004
2:48 PM EDT (1848 GMT)
BROOKLYN, Mich. -- NASCAR president Mike Helton issued a stern warning to drivers and teams during the pre-race drivers' meeting at Michigan International Speedway.
Don't mess with us, we're still in charge.
NASCAR has come under fire the last two races for several snafus. At Dover two weeks ago, it took 24 laps of caution to sort out scoring when the yellow flag waved during green-flag pit stops.
Later, leader Kasey Kahne and several other drivers spun in fluid on the track that had been there a lap before NASCAR waved the yellow.
At Pocono last week, after changing the procedure for opening pit road, the flagman mistakenly waved the flag to open the pits. Leader Jimmie Johnson did not pit, following what NASCAR said in the drivers' meeting. The error was not corrected.
"Don't misinterpret some of the issues we may have with any weaknesses to challenges," Helton said. "We will still police the sport, we will still police what goes on on the racetrack and we will still enforce the rules and regulations of this sport.
BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Tony Stewart ducked out of the pre-race drivers' meeting Sunday morning at Michigan International Speedway, apparently disgusted with the length of the meeting.
• Complete story, click here
"Don't misinterpret anything that may be going on right now as an opportunity to take advantage of any situation. We're not going to let that happen."
Helton had told the drivers and crew chiefs that NASCAR "is what it is because of its longevity, its efforts to be correct and fair and the participants that make it up and the officials that run the races and the racetracks that entertain us and the sponsors that become involved.
"It's still the greatest form of motorsports, if not one of greatest forms of sports in this world."
Helton also said "50 years from now, as they're still having drivers' meetings at racetracks, there won't be many of us around to remember this conversation."
Helton later addressed what NASCAR perceives as too much aggressiveness on the racetrack. Perhaps referring in part to the Kevin Harvick-Matt Kenseth confrontation under caution last week, Helton said the cycle of respect between drivers is on the downside.
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"I think we're getting back into the bottom of that cycle where it seems like there's a lot of beating and banging going on on the racetrack that's causing aggression, that's causing cautions, that's causing things that shouldn't be caused," Helton said.
"I would suggest, drivers, that you would be more respectful on the racetrack to start with with each other. That should go a long way in a lot of what goes on on the racetrack and what we may have to get involved in."