Debate: NASCAR's burning questions

Turn 2: Two days after his involvement in a wreck that resulted in the death of sprint car driver Kevin Ward Jr., Tony Stewart pulled out of an upcoming dirt-track race in Plymouth, Indiana. Should NASCAR drivers in general stop dabbling in other series for recreation?

Hinton: No. It keeps them in touch with the grass roots, and both they and the fans need that. If an owner wants to stop his driver from short-tracking, that's easy to stipulate in a contract. Stewart is his own owner, so Gene Haas and the rest of the SHR management would have a hard time stopping him. To me, a driver who "dabbles" in local track racing is just showing his love of what sent him to the big leagues in the first place.

James: They should. I'm not here to quash their joy or outlet or passion. But they are not only professional athletes at the crest of their progression, but figureheads for sponsors and teams, and in the case of Tony Stewart, an employer to hundreds. They should step away, defer, not only for their good but that of anyone depending on them. Accidents happen. Accidents not of their doing happen. NASCAR drivers need not be involved.

McGee: Yes. I've changed my tune on this. In the past I'd always been one to defend these guys for moonlighting, even calling out the Cup series bosses who contractually prevented their drivers from doing it. I deeply appreciate the passion behind it. But the reality is that they can still contribute to grass-roots racing in other ways, whether it be buying up short tracks or fielding sprint car teams, both of which Stewart also does. When it's a special event like his Eldora Prelude, which NASCAR openly supported and drew a big-name entry list, perhaps that's different. But there is too much at stake for too many people for these guys to risk it all. As old-school cool as it might be, it doesn't really fit in the modern world of big league motorsports. There will be plenty of time for that after NASCAR. Just ask Red Farmer and David Pearson.

Oreovicz: The answer is no on principle, yes for practical reasons. Stewart is an extreme example because of his stature as a Cup series champion and team owner, but journeymen like Ken Schrader moonlighted throughout their NASCAR careers and secured a future as short-track draws for life. The presence of national stars is a boost for local and regional track owners, too. But there's no denying it's dangerous for NASCAR stars to step back to a level of racing where the cars and tracks are simply not as safe as they are at the Cup level -- and they often have no idea what to expect from the local drivers they are racing against.

Turn 3: What would be more surprising: Rookie Kyle Larson making the Chase or Kasey Kahne missing it?

Hinton: Neither would be surprising to me. If anything, I'd be surprised if Kahne made it, given his inconsistencies and his inability to close a deal even when he leads laps. Larson is inside the Chase grid, and a win to seal his deal would be surprising, but only a little.

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