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ANDERS: Regulating burnouts a tough task

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Jordan Anders

NASCAR Chicagoland Auto Racing-3
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By JORDAN ANDERS
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Cyndi Lauper once said girls just want to have fun, but boys do too, right?

In a sport that has been ridiculed for being overly restrictive in just about every way, one of the few forms of freedom NASCAR drivers still have is in their postrace victory celebrations.

I love seeing what some guys do. Brad Keselowski always does a victory lap with the American flag, which is awesome. Kyle Larson likes to take his steering wheel off while doing donuts and hang it out the window, which, while seemingly pretty dangerous, is also very cool.

Kyle Busch has his bow — love it or hate it — and Austin Dillon has .... whatever that slide thing is he likes to do on the infield grass.

The point is, victory celebrations are awesome. So, of course, drivers have pushed them to the point where the sport may begin to regulate them.

The subject has been floated ever since it became the cool thing to do to blow out the rear tires while doing burnouts. When the tires blow, it usually damages the rear quarter panels of the car, making it harder for the winning machine to be closely inspected.

Potential rules on the matter were brought up again this week by Dale Earnhardt Jr., who wasn't thrilled that his teammate Chase Elliott was penalized for failing inspection last week, but winner Martin Truex Jr.'s car was allowed despite having the back end mangled by his post-race celebration.

"I have been kind of waiting all this time for NASCAR to eventually say look you know we would just rather you guys not blow the tires out," Earnhardt said. "They talk about not wanting to be the ‘fun police’ — being the ‘fun police’ is not on the radar of their damn problems. You know, I don’t think they need to worry about — that is a cop out in my opinion. But, I think that you can do burnouts without blowing the tires out. That happened for years.”

Burning it down until the tires fail is a trend that is decidedly skewed towards Toyota drivers, with Truex and Denny Hamlin being the most notable culprits this season. Earnhardt's comments seem to be as much politicking as Brad Keselowski's comments on Twitter last week about how Toyota has gotten so much farther ahead than the other manufacturers.

While the idea of policing burnouts for the sake of protecting the integrity of the cars is a noble idea, it's much harder in execution. There's no way to tell when a tire would fail during a burnout, and the end result would probably be NASCAR having to implement a list of things drivers could and could not do when celebrating a win.

That seems counterintuitive for a sport trying to maintain one of the few shows of individuality it has.

PLAYOFFS: Today's race is the second in the Monster Energy Cup Series playoffs, but this weekend also saw the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series kickoff their respective playoffs.

This column was filed Saturday morning, before either one of those series raced, but if you're reading this, odds are a playoff driver has already punched his ticket into the second round.

I remain torn on the idea of the playoffs in NASCAR's lower series. While I believe the playoff system was ultimately the right decision for NASCAR, there is still a small part of me that enjoys watching a championship battle unfold over an entire season.

This is the second year the Xfinity and Truck Series have used a playoff format. Both series have their own interesting storylines and underdogs this season.

In Xfinity, William Byron is the clear favorite, but his biggest competition might come from his JR Motorsports teammates in Justin Allgaier and Elliott Sadler. Personally, I'd give just about anything to see Sadler win a championship. That guy has been around so long and reinvented himself in that series, so to see that pay off with a title would be awesome.

The trucks have a great crop of young drivers like Christopher Bell, John Hunter Nemechek and Chase Briscoe at the top of its standings, with veterans Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter sprinkled in. Seeing which of the young guys can take a shot at unseating Sauter as defending champion is going to be fun.

As intriguing as the Cup playoffs are, the Xfinity and Truck playoffs are shorter, making each race more meaningful. I think both series are primed to give us fun title fights all the way to Homestead.

PREDICTION

Making this pick when NASCAR came to Loudon a couple of months ago almost paid off. I’m riding with it here, because this guy has won at New Hampshire three times and could make some waves with a win this time around, seeing as how he’s still without a ride (an announced one, anyway) for next season.

PICK: Matt Kenseth.

Contact Jordan Anders at janders@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 or follow @ReflectorJordan on Twitter.

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