Then it went really nuts when Cole Custer leaped over the pit wall and tackled Nemechek near the start/finish line.
Since that time, many drivers and other have voiced their opinion if Nemechek was too rough on Custer. One of those was Kyle Larson, which is funny given how he won a Late Model race at the Battle of the Beach in 2013.
We have seen it at the Cup level all the way down to our weekly street stock levels. How much is going too far in order to get a victory.
Some people do look at the “big picture” in each situation. For the Nemechek/Custer situation, some are saying that Nemechek didn’t need to get that aggressive because he already has clinched a spot in the Chase while Custer was looking to lock up his spot with the win. Nemechek didn’t need to be that aggressive for that reason.
We heard this last year when Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano got together in Kansas during the Chase. We saw the end result of that situation a few weeks later at Martinsville. Many even referenced in their social media post that Custer “owes” that to Nemechek now.
Some would wonder why Nemechek was that aggressive given that situation.
One thought would be that people within the Nemechek camp would tell you that they are an under budget team and victories could lead to sponsorship opportunities, thus their aggression to get the win.
Custer going after Nemechek after the race, for many, was a surprise. But compare Custer to Kenseth, both took so much from other drivers that the patience gets to a point to where aggression takes over valor.
This isn’t the first time that Custer was taken out of a victory. Gray Gaulding got aggressive on the final lap in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West finale in 2013 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Even when you look back at the Battle of the Beach 2013 events, two of the three main event races had a “bump & run” pass for the win.
Many would say that it makes for great television. It will definitely make the highlight reel on the news where the stick & ball sports anchor would usually leave it as the last thing, try to find humor from it or throw in the Benny Hill theme music.
Aggressive driving is a staple in motorsports, and depending whose side you are on, your opinion will never be the same.
Officials making decisions on whether or not a driver should be disqualified for aggressive driving will always be in a gray area. Each situation has been looked at on an individual basis.
John Hunter Nemechek fans would tell you he did everything he could to win the race. He didn’t dump and run him and easily drive to the checkered flag, he dragged race him.
Custer fans would say that he did a bump and run but went too far when he drove him into the wall and kept his steering wheel to the left.
If the roles were reversed, Nemechek fans would probably be saying that he had to do what he had to do because they need the big paycheck to keep going and Custer has a solid sponsor, oh well.
While we may never see this pattern of aggressive driving change, the attitude after could probably get better.
If a driver purposely admitted to aggressively driving for a win, just admit it and if an apology is needed, apologize. But don’t do it a smart aleck, egotistical way. Be respectful and realize that you have one coming at you.
Drivers expect some aggression when it comes to racing, and they realize there is a fine line to it. The argument comes in to how much is too far, and that is sometimes tough for officials to say as well. Officials do take into the background of the parties involved to make a decision. If both parties have a history of aggressive driving, the penalties will be higher than a first time offender.
What’s funny is when someone is not too aggressive and gets questioned about it, for example, Kyle Larson racing Matt Kenseth at Dover a few months ago. Many said if Larson was a little more aggressive, like he was at the Battle of the Beach in 2013, he would have won that race.
But, Kyle Larson taught something to everyone that day. He matured and looked at the big picture. He showed respect that day and when he won at Michigan a couple of weeks ago, just take a look at how many drivers came to congratulate him.
Did his Battle at the Beach victory three years ago play a role to how he drove at Dover? Be an interesting question to ask him.
How will John Hunter Nemechek and Cole Custer act going forward? Will Custer give him a payback and then be over or will Custer take a last stand and not retaliate but show Nemechek who wins more by being a respectful driver in future races?
They both have our attention now; we just wait and see what each of them does next. It’s like that cliffhanger from the old Batman show, we have to wait until next week or the next race event.
Each situation is unique and pretty tough to compare apples to apples.
Aggressive driving, if done right, can make or break someone’s career. There is an art to it, and for many it takes years to master. Drivers expect to do it and be victims of it.
In the end, the respect comes from how each driver handles themselves after the race. Take a moment and think about those finishes and how drivers handled themselves. One can guess where you notice a difference on your own opinion of each situation.