There was actually less hand-wringing and pleading for NASCAR drivers to avoid all other forms of racing than might have been expected following Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s fiery sports-car crash Sunday.

Of course there was some. That was no surprise.

Because it was Earnhardt and because the video was so dramatic, the accident drew much more attention than a similar incident involving, say, Jason Leffler in an open-wheel dirt show somewhere.

Inevitably in these cases, people are quick to opine that highly paid NASCAR drivers should not risk their careers -- and their sponsors' and teams' investments -- by racing in non-NASCAR events.

Not only do such admonitions come off as arrogant -- as popular as it is, NASCAR is not the only form of racing that matters -- they also ignore the basic makeup of real racers. Drivers willing to try other disciplines do it primarily for the challenge and the thrill.

You want to discourage that?


It's important that drivers understand the risks and take proper precautions, especially when they're driving unfamiliar equipment like Earnhardt was in that situation.

Still, birds need to fly and fish need swim.

No Changes

No rule changes are forthcoming in the American Le Mans Series in light of the Earnhardt incident.

The series runs essentially under the rules put forth by the ACO, the organizing body of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and that group is consulted on any deviations, said Tim Mayer, chief operating officer of the International Motor Sports Association, which sanctions the ALMS.

ALMS cars have an extinguisher system aimed at the engine and battery that can be activated by the driver in the cockpit or safety crew from outside the car. But the Earnhardt fire started after an impact to the fuel filler neck at the opposite end of the car.

GM Racing, which runs the Corvette program, is analyzing the accident, and IMSA officials will consult on any design changes.

"It was a very particular kind of crash that involved a specific spot on the car," Mayer said. "You could do that same crash 100 times and probably never have this happen again. So we have to determine is there a problem or was this just something that happens, a racing incident."

The ALMS comes to Road America in Elkhart Lake in two weeks, following its races in Portland, Ore. this weekend.

Seeking Right Formula

Proposals made last week for 2005 Formula One rules would reduce downforce on the cars by about 25 percent, limit drivers to two sets of tires per weekend and require an engine to last two race weekends.

For 2006, the governing body would limit engines to 2.4-liter V-8s, require many specifications that would keep current engine components useable and ban exotic materials in the engines.

Teams unable to obtain such engines in 2006 and '07 would be allowed to continue with V-10s restricted by a rev limit. . . .

The three sessions of Brickyard 400 testing, the last of which concluded this week, involved 38 drivers logging 15,710 miles around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Jeff Green ended up fastest at 181.641, a lap turned in the first session on July 7. . . .

A shake-up in Rusty Wallace's new team will have the Miller-sponsored driver competing in the Busch Series again.

He and Jamie McMurray will take over for rookie Billy "Catfish" Parker, who will continue to test with the team. . . .

As part of a responsible drinking campaign instituted by Jim Beam, the Michael Andretti Foundation will donate $20,000 to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Sunday to help fund alcohol education at the school. . . .

Despite NASCAR's positive comments on a possible race in New York, the notion of a track on Staten Island ran into opposition from a state assemblyman, who cited traffic and environmental concerns. . . .

IRL driver Darren Manning finished third in the Monday pro-am for the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s crash last Sunday shouldn't stop drivers from racing in non-NASCAR events, such as the American Le Mans Series.