NASCAR President Steve Phelps offered comments on the altercation; EVP also explains the purpose of meeting in the hauler
Steve Phelps: “They want that intensity. They don’t want vanilla. The raw emotion is great.”
On Friday, knockout qualifying brought drama to ISM Raceway. A group of drivers waited until the last minutes to hit the track for timed laps.
With the group on the track, they were left minimal opportunities to turn a quick lap as time ran down. There was a traffic jam of sorts and McDowell held up Suarez.
Suarez worked around him. As he came to pit road he all but parked on the race track, in the racing groove. That forced McDowell to swerve around him which in turn ruined his lap as well.
After qualifying, Suarez exited his car and went to McDowell’s machine for a conversation. He was met with hands around his throat.
Suarez then tossed McDowell to the ground. Soon after, McDowell’s crew tossed the fun-sized Suarez on the hood of McDowell’s race car.
Initially, McDowell was attempting to pull Suarez off the hood with a tug to the racing shoe of Suarez. Soon after, things calmed on the pit lane and the drivers were able to talk it out.
“I’m the kind of driver that I’m going to give a lot of respect to you always, if you give me respect back. If you don’t give me respect, I’m going to go kick your ass,” Suarez stated ahead of the race to Bob Pockrass.
NASCAR details the meeting with Daniel Suarez and Michael McDowell
On Saturday morning, both drivers were called to the NASCAR hauler for a meeting with officials.
What was the meeting like in the hauler?
“Oh, we gave them a quick bonus,” NASCAR Executive Vice President, Chief Racing Development Officer said with a laugh.
“Just kidding,” O’Donnell confirmed with laughter all around.
“No, we got criticized in the past. Rightly so, if you go back to Martinsville with Matt Kenseth, that we had never talked to the drivers after we saw something.”
“From that perspective, lesson learned. The meeting from us lasted about 30 seconds.”
“It was just, ‘Hey, don’t let it play out on the track. Take care of your business off the track. Love the passion and see ya later.’ “
“Those two guys elected to stay and talk amongst themselves for a little bit. But, for us, it was about a 30 second meeting.”
NASCAR President Steve Phelps on the altercation
For a Friday qualifying session, it sure was exciting from the fan perspective. But, how does the NASCAR president view the altercation?
“Seeing the passion and the emotion, that’s what our fans want to see,” Phelps told The Republic on Sunday morning.
“They want that intensity. They don’t want vanilla. The raw emotion is great.”
“Leading to a physical altercation probably wouldn’t be my first choice, but these guys need to express themselves the way they want to express themselves.”
Pace car ride together
After qualifying, the drivers drivers were set to lineup side by side in the race. Ironically, that would put them in the same truck for the parade laps.
They would start 27th and 28th. And that’s exactly how it always works out. But, it gave them another opportunity to talk.
“It was a little awkward,” Suarez stated of the pace car ride.