Vaccinations have been a hot topic in the NASCAR garage this week.
It all started when Corey LaJoie, driver of the #7 Chevrolet for Spire Motorsports was forced to sit out this past weekend’s race at Michigan.
LaJoie, who is not vaccinated, was sidelined after coming into contact with somebody who tested positive for COVID during a taping of LaJoie’s podcast, “Stacking Pennies.”
Under NASCAR’s protocols, an unvaccinated person must undergo a mandatory seven day quarantine after coming into contact with somebody who tests positive for COVID. Vaccinated individuals, however, have no mandatory quarantine and must only present a negative COVID test within three to five days of contact to return to the track.
This thread explains current #nascar protocols on COVID-19 exposure, quarantine and vaccination.
An unvaccinated driver is out at least 7 days if exposed. A vaccinated driver could be cleared to return in 3.
Given the current guidelines, an unvaccinated driver is guaranteed to miss the next race after contact with someone who’s positive for COVID, while a vaccinated driver could present a negative test after exposure and not have to miss a week of action.
And with the Cup Series playoffs coming up in just one week, this policy could have major championship implications.
With so much on the line under the current policy, vaccinations were the talk of the NASCAR garage this past week, with several drivers weighing in and expressing their concern over the guidelines.
Most notably, Joey Logano revealed that seeing LaJoie forced to sit out a race convinced him to get the vaccine for himself.
“It definitely pushes you. Whether you want it to or not, it’s pressure to do it.
Does it force you? No, but it could in a way. It made my decision for me. It’s backed you into a corner where you have to make a decision on what you think is best. Everyone is entitled to whatever that is.
Either way it’s fine. It’s your decision. But it needs to be your decision. You can’t be forced into it. This is just pressure to that, though.”
Joey Logano on the impact the Corey LaJoie situation had on his decision to get vaccinated. A vaccinated driver would sit out 3-5 days instead of at least seven days for a non-vaccinated driver if a close contact tests positive for COVID-19. pic.twitter.com/dpiy6DiTmk
Logano, who’s locked into the playoffs, also said that he would be putting public appearances on hold for the near future.
One common theme throughout the garage, though?
Drivers don’t want NASCAR to force them to get vaccinated – with Martin Truex Jr. saying that he doesn’t think it would be fair for the sport to mandate drivers get the vaccine.
“There’s no real facts that say vaccinating or unvaccinated is really any different these days.
I’m really happy that they haven’t went down the mandatory road (of vaccinations) because I don’t think that’s fair from any perspective at all. I just don’t think it’s fair you can force someone to do something that they don’t want to do.
If they want to take the chance, they take the chance.”
Defending Cup Series champion Chase Elliott was also critical of the double standard for vaccinated versus unvaccinated drivers:
“I feel like if you don’t have COVID, I’m not sure why you can’t be here. It makes sense if you have a negative test, logically speaking. Why can’t you be around? I don’t know.”
But as for the driver of the #10 Stewart-Haas Ford, Aric Almirola? Well, don’t ask him if he’s vaccinated:
“That’s like me asking you if you’ve had a vasectomy.”
Even Kyle Busch, who’s usually pretty outspoken about…well, everything, doesn’t think that it’s any of NASCAR’s business whether he’s vaccinated or not.
“I look at all of that stuff as very personal, very choice-driven and nobody needs to know what people’s choices are.
But now everybody’s asking for vaccination status cards and everything and where you go, so I guess HIPAA doesn’t exist any more.”
For now, NASCAR doesn’t seem like they’re going to mandate vaccinations for their drivers – and it doesn’t sound like the policy will be changing any time soon either.
So at this point the best drivers can do is make their own personal choices and hope for the best once the playoffs roll around.
But damn, it’s really going to suck if a driver gets knocked out of the championship hunt because of contact tracing – especially if they’re asymptomatic and don’t end up testing positive.