3 things to note leaving COTA and heading to Richmond

Will Suarez Get Penalized?

Penalties are stealing the limelight again. Between the Phoenix dealings, Josh Williams in Atlanta and now Daniel Suarez for COTA, this is another week of penalty watch.

Denny Hamlin and Ross Chastain may have a truce, but I have a feeling something is still brewing between Trackhouse Racing teammates Daniel Suarez and Ross Chastain. I got the vibe something was amiss last year, and it may have come to a head on Sunday.

Daniel Suarez was pissed at Alex Bowman for contact towards the end and took it upon himself to chase Bowman down on the cool day lap and try to wreck him. It spilled over to pit road.

“He just thought I drove in and tried to drive through him,” Bowman said of his conversation with Suarez. “I had the corner made. Only reason I was inside of the 99 was to protect from the 1. Then the 1 just hammered me in the corner, dumped me, then I ran into the 99, kind of cleaned him out.

“Daniel and I, we’ve been teammates in the past, raced together a long time. I respect the hell out of him. I’m sure he’s still not super happy. Just tried to explain that I wouldn’t race him like that, that I was shoved in there.

“You see that a lot at these road courses. Indy last year, Harvick was super mad at me and crashed me. Then he watched the video, and he was like, Man, I crashed the wrong guy.

“Sometimes just it’s a chain reaction. Fortunately, it worked out for us, ended up with a top five.”

Suarez saw that he got the wrong guy and video evidence showed him going to confront his teammate in Chastain.

He didn’t do much talking of the incident.

“When we got spun, I think we restarted down at Niece Equipment south of town. To come back to a top five was a top effort for our Worldwide Express team,” he said.

“I thought we were a top-five car all day. Thought the 45 had us covered. There was a line of Chevys second through sixth. It was about positioning each other while we were saving fuel, then racing each other, whoever was in front was going to be pretty good.

“Another top five here. I love this place. I love road course racing. But the fight to get better never stops. I know there’s things I can be doing better.

“From everybody from Jockey to Moose, Advent Health, everybody at Trackhouse, Justin Marks’ birthday this weekend. We ended up with a good finish, but it wasn’t the prettiest.”

Trackhouse needs to get ahead of this. Both drivers luckily have their futures secured with them but I can see how Suarez probably felt threatened last year by Chastain getting Trackhouse’s first win and stealing a lot of the limelight. Chastain felt like Suarez was Pitbull and Trackhouse’s main driver and can see where a driver who’s fought for every ride he’s had wouldn’t go down easy.

This has the potential to get ugly if it’s not addressed soon. However, NASCAR may need to step in too. Suarez is facing a penalty and likely will get one this week.

According to rule, intentionally damaging another vehicle on pit road could be a 25-50 point driver penalty and/or a $50-100k fine.

AUSTIN, TEXAS – MARCH 26: Tyler Reddick, driver of the #45 Monster Energy Toyota, and Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, lead the field to an overtime restart during the NASCAR Cup Series EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on March 26, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Driver Code In NASCAR Is Poor

NASCAR races are starting to get out of hand. It’s arguably the worst among the pure “racing” standpoint among the big divisions in motorsports. Formula One is more of a spectacle than actual racing but they still police rough driving. INDYCAR is the best pure racing in all of motorsports with tons of on track passing and no true rough driving allowed.

NASCAR, well there’s no morals. Yes, you can’t bump and bang in an open wheel car, but just because they have fenders, everyone in NASCAR feels like you should use them.

Kyle Busch was well ahead of this a few weeks ago saying that he feels like the respect level in NASCAR is gone to a new low.

“When you intentionally drive over somebody because they made a move on you or something you didn’t like then, you’re going to get punched in the face afterwards,” Busch said a few weeks ago in Atlanta.“ We have completely lost any sense of respect in the garage area between drivers at all.

“That’s where the problem lies. Nobody gives two (expletive) about anybody else. It’s a problem where everybody takes advantage of everybody as much as they can.”

Then, you hear the comments from newcomers Jordan Taylor and Jenson Button at COTA and you get a sense that there’s a real problem brewing here.

“It was an emotional rollercoaster,” Button said. “First, it was terrible. I mean, I must’ve been last by the end of it. And I was just like, ‘Everyone: Go. I just need to drive and find a rhythm.’ I’ve never gone through a corner too wide so often. And trying to place my car in the right place — I just got it wrong every time.

“Normally, if you’re a little bit slow through a corner, nobody tries to overtake you from the outside. Because they’re not going to make it all the way on the next one. But here they do, because they get a wheel inside for the next one, and if you turn in, you turn around.”

Taylor, was in the top 10 on the final restart. He lost 14 spots due to bad driving of others.

“Yeah, it was definitely wild,” Taylor said. “I wouldn’t say I survived; I feel like I’m beat up pretty much. Every restart, you just get smashed in the front, rear, side. So, yeah, it was pretty much just survival. The guys knew I’d be a little bit more hesitant, so they would take advantage of it. At the end, I got more aggressive and made our way almost back to the top 10. On the last restart, I don’t know who went down on the inside, but they were never going to make the corner and used us to stop themselves. I’d say it was a disappointing day. We had good pace, but we just got shuffled back every restart. Tough day.”

Just listen to what they’re saying. Instead of racing clean, drivers are just diving their cars into the corners and using other cars to slow down. It’s not pure. It’s not racing. It’s trash.

Drivers say that if they don’t drive this way, then someone else will. That’s absolute trash. If you feel that way, then speak up and deal with it in the garage because the alternative is complete hogwash.

That’s what NASCAR racing is becoming and I don’t like it one bit.

Yes, I get in cars that are made as equal as ever and with track position meaning as more now than ever, plus with the rules being what they are, drivers think that it’s okay to race over their heads and apologize later. That’s not racing. Never has been. Never was. Can’t happen much longer.

There’s a saying, “you are what your record says you are.” Well in racing, you are what your position on track says you are. You can’t just go from 10th to first because you feel your car is better than everyone else’s. You’re 10th for a reason.

You can’t divebomb the car in front because you feel your car is faster than their’s or that you owe it to yourself, your team and your sponsors to be in front of them. How about maybe passing them clean? If you can’t, then you’re not good enough. Simple. You can’t take what’s not yours and if someone is in front of you, that spot isn’t yours unless you can get by them clean.

NASCAR has to start policing this. Especially when the end of these races become a shitshow of drivers crashing all over each other.

AUSTIN, TEXAS – MARCH 26: Tyler Reddick, driver of the #45 Monster Energy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on March 26, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Tyler Reddick A Championship Favorite

William Byron has won twice this season and had a top two car Sunday in COTA. Tyler Reddick joined him in the early championship conversation on Sunday via his third consecutive top five finish including a win. Over the last 25 races run, Reddick has four wins, most among the garage. 3 of his 4 wins were on road courses which means out of the 6 road courses in 2023, he’s won at half of them.

He’s quickly emerging as a contender for this year’s championship which Denny Hamlin boasted after Reddick’s win, “this is exactly why we hired him.”

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