Does NASCAR have ‘Junior Rules’?

NASCAR has decided not to penalize Dale Earnhardt Jr. for spinning out Casey Mears on the cool-down lap of Saturday’s race at Phoenix International Raceway. ESPN.com’s David Newton writes that fans and some members of the media believe that NASCAR has one set of rules for Junior and another set of rules for the rest of its drivers.

ESPN’s Newton cites several examples in which drivers were penalized for actions similar to Junior’s, including the incident when Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards were placed on probation for bumping each other on the cool-down lap at Bristol last August.

Here’s my take. Maybe – maybe – NASCAR employs Junior Rules. Or maybe the guys at the top realize this year’s races have been less-than-exciting. Maybe they finally are going to allow for more aggression on the track. Maybe letting Junior slide on this one is actually a signal from NASCAR brass that it wants its drivers to drive hard again.

Let’s see what NASCAR does when Busch or Tony Stewart or anyone else pulls a similar stunt.

Update: On Tuesday NASCAR gave Earnhardt Jr. and Mears a six-race probation. The drivers were not penalized any money or points.

The Junior-Mears incident happens around 2:20.