A major rule change is coming to NASCAR in 2018.
The sport announced it will cut the number of pit crew members who can go over the wall from six to five, and the gas man can’t be involved in other pit stop duties. So, the other four pit crew members going over the wall have more responsibility, and more pressure will fall on them during pit stops.
For safety reasons, the rule makes sense as less people over the wall is a much safer option than 6-7 people going over the wall. Making the sport safer is never a bad idea, and NASCAR officials believe this will be a step in the right direction in that regard.
But aside from safety, this rule change was designed to create more parity in NASCAR. It was designed to level the playing field for each team.
Do fans really want to see a race where every car and team and driver is equal? Or do they want to see the best cars and drivers rise to the top?
If parity is your goal, then this is a step in that direction. But sports aren’t about parity. Sports are about seeing the best athletes or teams fight their way to the top and compete for the championship. Why practice or train hard to win a championship when the sport wants everyone to be equal each year? That defeats the purpose.
It would be like if the NCAA decided all college football teams had the same amount of money to pay their coaches to level the playing field. Let the best be the best.
Martin Truex Jr. had the best season of any driver in 2017, but it still wasn’t a foregone conclusion he was going to win the championship. That’s what makes NASCAR — or any sport, for that matter — entertaining. The unexpected can happen at any time. Sometimes the favorites win, but sometimes upsets happen on their own. NASCAR doesn’t need to step in and change the pit crew rules to level the playing field.
NBC Sports analyst Kyle Petty said it best when discussing the new rule.
“There’s been lots of innovations on pit road, and almost always when a change is made on pit road, it’s for safety,” Petty said. “But the problem I have for this announcement is parity, to change the sport and make it equal.
“We’re dumbing the sport down.”
And he’s right. And there’s no point in it. The safety aspect to the change is reasonable, but that’s not the only motivation for changing the rule.
Parity in sports isn’t always a good thing. NASCAR doesn’t need it. It’d be different if the same two or three drivers won every race, but 15 different drivers won a race in 2017 and eight different drivers won multiple races. There’s already enough parity, and creating rules to add more of it isn’t in the sport’s best interest.
What do you think?