Every story I tell and every article I write on here is told through the eyes of a NASCAR fan. Not a driver, an owner, or a member of the mainstream media.
Which is why my opinion on the Juan Pablo Montoya v. Ryan Newman incidents Saturday night will likely differ from everyone else’s.
By now we all know the story. If you don’t, here’s the video:
For starters, in my opinion, Newman did nothing wrong and Montoya’s acts were completely unjustified. I don’t care if it was just a quarter of the way into the race; Newman had every right to attempt to pass Montoya on the outside coming out of a corner.
Likewise, Montoya had every right to throw a block on Newman, or “slam the door”, if you will. However, when he elected to do that, Montoya bore the risks. If his move was unsuccessful, it was he who would have to pay the price, which is exactly what happened.
Therefore, when Montoya elected to retaliate on Newman some 130 laps later, his actions were, indeed, unjustified. Does that mean Montoya, who was not penalized for his actions Saturday night, should have bore some sort of punishment?
NASCAR introduced the “Boys, have at it” mentality at the beginning of the 2010 season, and this was just the second time it was put to the test. That unwritten rule puts situations like that between Montoya and Newman in the drivers’ hands. It is up to them, not NASCAR, to determine how to handle conflicts and whether or not to take matters into their owns hands.
Justifiably or otherwise, Montoya did just that. Legally.
What both Montoya and Newman have to be aware of now is what extending this rivalry will do to both of them and their Chase hopes. At this point, Newman owes Montoya one. But should Newman decide to even the score, Montoya may very well strike back once again.
And should Montoya decide to go two up on Newman, Newman may not have a choice but to do to Montoya what Carl Edwards did to Brad Keselowski last year at Atlanta.
Personally, I like the rivalry. I feel it adds an element of uncertainty that makes NASCAR a bit more exciting; something that never hurts. And I feel that if NASCAR continues to let these boys “have at it”, that would be the right thing to do.
As far as the boys actually “having at it”, I hope they do. However, if they continue to “have at it”, they will have to do so at their own risk.