New rules allow NASCAR, Denny Hamlin to put safety first

2 cents

Denny Hamlin’s blurred vision and headache were caused by a sliver of metal in his eye. While that forced him to miss last Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway, he’s been cleared to drive again Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.

What’s important here is NASCAR’s new rules that allow drivers to miss races for medical reasons. That loophole protects the driver’s health, as well as those around him. It’s common sense.

Until this year, a driver essentially was eliminated from championship contention if he missed a race. There are classic stories of driver’s competing when they weren’t healthy. Ricky Rudd drove with duct tape keeping his eyes open after he sustained a concussion. Donnie Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Terry Labonte and Darrell Waltrip all drove with broken bones, and Hamlin drove less than two weeks after knee surgery.

All Hamlin has to do to make the playoffs is win a race during the regular season. If not for changes in NASCAR’s rules, he would have been eliminated from the championship picture — or he would have raced with blurry vision caused by metal in his eye.

This time, common sense — by NASCAR and Hamlin — prevailed.

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