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In football, there's a so-called Roy Williams rule outlawing the horse-collar tackle and back in the day, the introduction of a shot clock in college basketball was largely regarded as the Dean Smith rule because of the legendary coach's slow-down four-corners offense.

Now, in IRL, they have the new Danica Rule.  It's a way to handicap race cars with extra weight so that lighter drivers -- Danica Patrick weighs about 100 pounds -- don't have an advantage over their competitors.

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Even IRL president Brian Barnhart thinks it's a lit nit-picky making the point that in hoops, they don't make taller basketball players shoot at a higher basket.   Ok, so that's an example flawed by its impracticality but the point this: How far do you go in artificially leveling the playing field over a perceived advantage?

To her credit, Patrick doesn't whine about the rule change.

"They don't do that in other sports. But on the day that everything matters, it's not going to be an issue," she said.

The IRL's big day is coming up, the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.  Some cars in the field, including Patrick's, will carry extra weight near the fuel cell.  In her case, it will be 35 pounds.

Patrick isn't the only driver who will feel the impact of the rule that is administered somewhat oddly. On Team Penske, for instance, there are two drivers who are within two pounds of each other -- Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe -- but Briscoe gets 10 pounds added to his car.  Presumably, that's because of the sliding scale system used in figuring how to handicap the cars.

IRL is not unique in having a weight handicap system.  NASCAR does it and so does Champ Car.

Photo: Associated Press

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