NASCAR will review making the penalty call faster in the race

A NASCAR executive said Tuesday that it was clear that Ross Chastain committed a foul at the end of last weekend’s Cup race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but that series officials will be looking at ways they can issue the penalty faster to avoid the situation in which the car is . Whoever commits a foul is racing for the lead.

Elton Sawyer, NASCAR Vice President of Official and Technical Inspection, made the comments on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

At the start of extra time, Chastain was outside heading away into Turn 1, the right corner. With three cars to his right, Chastain chose to drive straight to the escape route. He was fifth at the time and out on the track next to Tyler Riddick, who was leading.

While Chastain had four points, some of that was due to the field mixing up in Turn 1. The cars running in second, third and fourth entered Turn 1 in tandem and fired the track. Ryan Blaney, who was fourth, rolled into the second turn. His car blocked the underpass and slowed the cars outside.

Riddick later said he wasn’t sure if Chastain would be punished or if he was racing Chastain for the win. During their duels, Austin Cendrick closed in on the two. In the end, Riddick got Chastain and won the race without incident.

When asked on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio by NBC Sports’ Nate Ryan about whether NASCAR could make that call faster, Sawyer replied, “I’ll answer that with a short yes.

“We’ll start today by debriefing from the event, the things we did well, the things we didn’t do well, and the things we need to do better moving forward.

“Track limits on this type of course are always a challenge for us. We want to get it right. When these situations are presented to us, we come back to replay. Just remember we are running a race. The competition is still going on. It doesn’t happen in 10 seconds. We want to get it right. We want to make the right call. That’s why the rules are written the way they are.”

Sunday’s end was similar to last year’s ending when Chase Briscoe was knocked out in the first round in the last reboot. He cut across the grass and was alongside Denny Hamlin in the lead. Hamlin earned by Brisco.

NASCAR announced the penalty just seconds before Briscoe, unaware he was being penalized, turned around Hamlin. With Briscoe punished, that meant AJ Allmendinger, who was third on the course was the leader. Allmendinger went on to win.

This situation could have been repeated with Chastain and Reddick but they never made contact in a duel.

“Fortunately, this hasn’t happened like it did last year,” Sawyer said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We are happy with that. We will continue to look at what we can do to try and eliminate these situations as an opportunity for the drivers.

We want to make sure to give them a replay area. In the past, we’ve had tires or a bulkhead there and that doesn’t sit very well in the runoff area. … Yes, we will look at what we can do internally to estimate the punishment faster, but the first thing is that we want to implement it correctly.”

Sawyer also explained why Chastain was being punished.

“(The Track Limit Guidelines) say if you cut too much of a racetrack, there will be a penalty,” Sawyer said. “If it’s at the end of the race, it’s 30 seconds (added to the driver’s time). All of these points, if you will, are well communicated to the industry, to the drivers’ garage.

“So what happened there at the end there, obviously rebooted and they went into Turn 1 and got four or five widths. Ross, you can go back and look at his optics and you can also look at the data, he’s really accelerating. He hasn’t (slowed down). He hurried through the run-off area. Again, we explained, and we felt like we made it really well about what you can and can’t do and what to expect from the boundaries of the track.”

When Ryan asked him if the drivers could use the access road if they missed the first turn but when they got back on the track they couldn’t get any ground, Sawyer said: “Sure.

“Again, you can’t cut as much of the course and get an advantage. When Ross came back, he was along with the captain, and they ran into the corner and he’s fifth. Just simply put, you can’t do that. This area is there for a reason – if you go in a bad spot. And you couldn’t turn, i.e. you had a brake failure, and you got in there too hot for whatever reason – you could run in there, but that shouldn’t be used for gain.

“Obviously it was. If he (Chastain) got out of the run-down area and merged somewhere around where he was running or the fifth or sixth or eighth or tenth or that area, no harm done. If we let that happen… it would be… That’s the natural line around the racetrack.”

After the race, Chastain said he thought he acted correctly because he was unable to turn around and used the access road.

“The way I understand it is if you cut (the corner) and you didn’t take the access lane and you came back out (on the right track) and you didn’t get any ground,” Chastain said. “I took their arrival lane. If I misunderstood their rules…I realized there was no way we’d make it into the first turn, I couldn’t turn it over, I’d be in the grass. So I took the swing.”

Chastain crossed the line in second place but finished 27th after the penalty kick.

“It’s their call,” Chastain said of NASCAR. “It’s their sandbox. They say we have a penalty, we have a penalty. I thought I knew the rule, though. I thought I stuck to the rule.”

“I didn’t do it maliciously. I didn’t do it proactively. We didn’t plan for it. With three cars to my right and everyone bumping into each other and I was turning around, I couldn’t see how to make it and I would be on the grass.”

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