NASCAR Race Hub Explores 'The Gray Area' and the history of cheating in NASCAR
It’s known as ‘The Gray Area,’ the mysterious places where NASCAR’s rule book can be ‘interpreted’ according to its race teams. Hall of Famer Junior Johnson liked to think of it as innovation, while others call it cheating.
Whatever the terminology, every sport seems to struggle from time to time with participants who try to gain an edge on the competition. NASCAR Race Hub explores ‘The Gray Area’ in a three-part feature beginning tomorrow on FOX Sports’ SPEED at 6 p.m. ET.
“Beat the inspection line, that was the fun part of it,” said former crew chief Buddy Parrott, who sat down and interviewed for this piece. “Cheating is cheating - if you get caught.
“We would have five or six things,” Parrott continued. “We would get caught with three, but we still raced the other two or three. It wasn’t just one race, it was all of them.”
Parrott joined NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson and NASCAR on FOX analysts Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds in discussing the past, how NASCAR combated it, and what the future holds when it comes to the rule book.
“There were nitrous bottles littered down the backstretch of Daytona,” said Petty, talking about racing back in the 1970s. “Where a guy would mash it (a nitrous bottle) and sling it out the window. We didn’t have TV cameras back in ’73, ’74 or ’75. You had to cheat. You had to cheat. Peer pressure made you cheat.”
Petty went on to say, “The guy that raced back in the 70s and the 80s who sits in a chair and tells you they didn’t cheat – step back, lightning is going to strike.”
Today, NASCAR’s rulebook is infinitely larger, and much more explicit in nature. How strict?
“Glad I’m not racing right now,” Johnson said. “They’d catch me every day.”
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