NASCAR executive details out of bounds rulings at Talladega
The out of bounds rule once again took center stage over the NASCAR weekend at Talladega Superspeedway with the double yellow line deciding both the Truck Series and Cup Series races.
On Saturday, Johnny Sauter crossed the finish line first but was deemed to have forced Riley Herbst below the line in the tri-oval, himself crossing the line in the process, resulting in NASCAR declaring that Spencer Boyd had won the race instead.
On Monday’s rain-delayed Cup Series affair, Ryan Blaney was forced below the line in the tri-oval in passing Ryan Newman on the final lap. Blaney was declared the winner following an official review but Newman was allowed to keep the runner-up position despite forcing another driver out of bounds.
It elicited some confusion, and NASCAR senior vice president of competition Scott Miller took to Sirius XM NASCAR radio on Tuesday morning to clear up the differences and decision-making process.
“First of all, one guy won the race or appeared to have won the race by making that move and the other didn’t,” Miller said. “When you’re talking about Johnny’s situation, he drove all four of his wheels under the yellow line to force (Herbst) down there. It was obviously a lot more blatant in our opinion than what transpired on (Monday). Blaney was down there, Ryan (Newman) wasn’t down there, but certainly in our opinion drove him down there.
“We reserve the right to call a car that forces another down below the yellow line. We can kind of use our judgement to assess the situation.
“No two ones of those situations are the same. There’s some subjectivity in it, which isn’t the greatest thing for us. But I think we’re very happy with the calls that we made and feel like both of them were right.”
As a result, Miller doesn’t expect his office to rework the rules before Daytona Speedweeks next February.
“The language of the rule is fine,” Miller said. “There’s always going to be judgment unless we put a wall down there or grass there or something like that. Those things would have their own set of large problems associated with them. We’ve looked at the language many times and have landed on where we are to let us make the calls we feel like are necessary for certain situations.
“If we didn’t have the yellow line rule, there’s no telling what might ensue with all the skid paths and everything leading into the back straight being so wide. We would find guys getting to the other end having no place to go but the apron. We have to enforce the yellow line rule and we are where we are. We look at everything every time when we have to make a call, all of our rules, not only race procedures, but technical rules as well.
“We’re constantly trying to get better. … I mean the yellow line rule is not something that we enjoy by any stretch of the imagination. But we have to have it. If we didn’t, there’d be even more mayhem more than likely.”
There were also fan complaints on the matter of consistency when a crash happens on the final lap, as was the case on Monday when both Parker Kligerman and Chris Buescher went head-first into the outside retaining wall in the tri-oval.
Race control allowed the race to play out, allowed Blaney to complete the pass on Newman in the sixth-closest finish in NASCAR history.
NASCAR has long stated a desire to let the races finish under green unless safety officials will be impeded from getting to damaged race cars and potentially injured drivers. Miller said safety trucks were not impeded in this instance.
“When it feels like that it’s not hampering us from dispatching the safety equipment, we’ll let things play out,” Miller said. “That’s kind of our criteria for judging that. Everybody wants to see a checkered flag finish and not a field freeze. We’ll do everything that we can safely to make that happen.”