DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Richard Petty recently said that the current restrictor-plate format at Daytona Speedway isn't racing, but rather merely 'running.'
NASCAR Hall of Fame member Bobby Allison disagrees.
"Well, I just don't see it that way," Allison told SB Nation on Friday at Daytona International Speedway. "It's the most fair thing going. All 43 drivers are facing the same set of rules and you have to do your best to get to the end of the race -- it's a real test of talent."
Allison added that he doesn't like the way drivers push with their bumpers nowadays, but ultimately concluded past drivers learned to push aerodynamically in the same way in order to make passes.
"I just disagree with this push mentality," Allison continued. "I think it, moreso than the packs, is what causes the wrecking. I would like to see NASCAR create a front bumper that caves in when you push ... that will really create some exciting racing."
Allison explained that he suggested the changes out of both competition and safety concerns, adding that he worries about the aggression levels the drivers currently employ during the restrictor plate races. The 1983 Sprint Cup champion was involved in a crash at Talladega in 1987 which led to NASCAR adopting restrictor plates and then another -- at Pocono during the 1988 season -- that ended his career.
Driver safety has since become one of his chief concerns.
Allison also said he misses the number of short track races that used to be on the schedule, but understands why most of them have gone away over the past 20 years.
"It's a great schooling ground," Allison said, "but it didn't produce the bigger returns and they got moved over. We really need to have the short tracks."
To Allison, short tracks are just another part of the heritage that NASCAR sometimes glosses over in its ambitions to be progressive and cutting-edge. He says there is nothing wrong with that mentality, but notes that it is a positive when the sport pays homage to its history.
That's exactly what brought Allison back to Daytona in the first place -- as a brand ambassador for the Firecracker 250 at Daytona Powered by Subway. The name is a reflection to the old Sprint Cup Series race (the Firecracker 400) that Allison won three times.
"This whole experience was really a pleasure for me," Allison said. "I'm a Subway fan, I love the meatball sandwich and I love the history of this sport. It's just been a pleasure."