Is the aggressiveness level increasing with the move to the Next Gen era of NASCAR? There have been many drivers and team members expressing this opinion, especially after the trip to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The list includes James Small, who said that drivers can get away with not using their brains.
Small, the man atop the pit box for Martin Truex Jr. and the No. 19 team, made the comments during an August 5 appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. He said that the Cup Series will keep making trips to the various road courses and that this is just what racing is now.
“And then obviously, on road courses now, there’s just no consequences for anybody to drive like that,” Small said. “Even with the old car, if you ran into somebody, you’d get a tire rub because the body would bend. You’d kinda do some damage. But now, people can just not use their brains, drive like idiots, and get away with it. It’s frustrating, it’s not really racing, it looks stupid on TV.”
Small continued and said that you don’t see some of these aggressive moves from the veterans such as Denny Hamlin, Harvick, or Truex. He noted that it has trended in this direction with the younger drivers coming into the sports.
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Truex Finished 21st at IMS’ Road Course
The 2017 Cup Series champion is someone that has excelled at road courses in the past. He has four career wins on this style of track, headlined by three at Sonoma Raceway, so it was understandable that he would enter as a name to watch.
Truex earned points in Stage 1, but he also dealt with issues late in the race after starting the final stage 15th overall based on his pit strategy. He was caught up in the middle of some chaos on Turn 1 after working his way into the top 10, which resulted in a flat tire on the No. 19 Toyota Camry TRD.
Instead of fighting for a strong finish during overtime, Truex had to deal with a tire issue during the caution for Austin Dillon being stuck in the gravel. This incident on Turn 1 derailed his afternoon and contributed to the strong comments from Small.
Another Crew Chief Weighed In After the IMS Race
Small was not the only crew chief that had strong comments about the style of racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Greg Ives, the crew chief for Alex Bowman, also weighed in with comments after a wreck ended the No. 48’s day early.
Ives made an appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio after the road course race. He said that he sees better racing out of his seven-year-old child and that there are penalties for avoidable contact on the track. He doesn’t see any consequences in the Cup Series for some of this aggressive racing.
“It’s not good for racing, it’s not good for professionalism,” Ives said on August 1. “Ultimately, NASCAR has to figure out how to make it so… like I said, one of these bodies don’t have hardly any detriment for running the next guy over in front of you. Maybe a bruised nose or a black eye might help.”
Granted, Ives noted during an interview with Heavy that some of these on-track incidents are out of his control. Instead, he and the No. 48 team can only focus on controlling the quality of the setups, the moves on the track, and the strategies.