Matt Kenseth won the Federated Auto Parts 400 and the 16-driver field for the Chase for the Sprint Cup was set Saturday night at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. In other big news coming out of Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at RIR, Kenseth jumped a restart with 18 laps to go in the 400-lap race en route to his fourth win of the season.
It was obvious to race fans watching Saturday night’s race that Kenseth’s No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota jumped that restart, so I think it’s a pretty safe bet that NASCAR officials saw it too, or at least one of them did.
After the race, a few fellow competitiors, including car owner Roger Penske was critical of, or at least questioned,NASCAR on the no-call.
Beginning on Monday on the various call-in shows on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, the topic du jour was said jumped restart and NASCAR’s said decision to not penalize Kenseth. Many callers provided ideas on how to better police restarts, ideas that included scoring loop-type transponders in and near the restart zone to increasing the size of the restart zone.
Here’s my take:
The aforementioned fan-provided solutions may help detect violators, a.k.a. restart jumpers. But is that really the problem? I don’t think so. As I mentioned above, obviously, fans were able to detect the jumped restart with their naked eyes; it’s a pretty sure bet NASCAR officials saw it, too.
The issue, here, is inconsistency in officiating. Sometimes jumped restarts are penalized, but sometimes they’re not. It seems to depend on the point of the race in which the violation occurs. Therefore, all the detecting equipment in the world wouldn’t make a difference here, or at least it wouldn’t have made a difference Saturday night.
I get NASCAR not wanting the result of a race, especially one weighted as heavily as Saturday night’s race at Richmond with Chase spots on the line, coming down to a penalty on a late-race restart. But if a jumped restart is wrong early in the race, shouldn’t it be equally as wrong late in a race?
I’m willing to compromise on this stance. By that, I mean that I think Penske had the right idea, an idea he mentioned in an interview on Wednesday. He suggested waving the yellow flag for a restart do-over. Would that have been too much to ask? I don’t think so.
After all, Joey Logano must’ve been right when he said that drivers can’t police themselves.
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