Superspeedways can be some of the most exciting racing that NASCAR fans watch all year. Restrictor plate racing can also present an entire set of problems; yesterday’s Talladega race showcased this in the worst way possible. All-day the field was halted due to cautions and red flags; drivers were constantly wrecking and for some that equals a great race. Once we get three or four big ones, that is when my patience starts to run thin.
Not only were the wrecks frustrating, but the double yellow line penalty was issued many more times than I am used to seeing during a race. Perhaps we should’ve taken that as a precursor of what was to come because sure enough the end of the race would be decided by this very rule.
On the last lap, we saw Matt DiBenedetto force William Byron below the yellow line which caused him to be issued a penalty by NASCAR, erasing his second-place finish. We then saw Chris Buescher force Denny Hamlin below the yellow line, but he was not penalized. So already some inconsistency.
The main piece of drama is the fact that Denny Hamlin advanced his position below the yellow line and WAS NOT penalized. Was he forced? Yes, but he made no effort to move back above the line even though he was clear. He essentially ran the entirety of turn 4 below the yellow line unnecessarily.
NASCAR looked at this and determined there was not enough evidence to overturn his win.
Now, did Denny Hamlin do anything wrong? No, absolutely not, in fact, he did exactly what any driver should’ve done. Stay in the gas and hope you don’t get called for it. However, NASCAR has made a critical error in this call.
Erik Jones should’ve been the race winner after the penalization of Hamlin and DiBenedetto.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. said it best during the broadcast, the yellow line rule needs to be done away with, it doesn’t help anyone at this point and only causes more problems than it solves. Drivers are going to have to just start wrecking each other to get a fair call. Instead of letting someone block you below the yellow line and leaving your fate in NASCAR’s hands, they have to just start wrecking someone who blocks.
The idea of the yellow line rule is to keep drivers from running wild all over the track and causing wrecks. As you can see, wild wrecks are happening more often because drivers are having to bottle themselves up to avoid the yellow line. It’s also silly to think that drivers would just go 8-wide down the backstretch; it’s not possible. The apron would still be used as a last-ditch option for drivers.