Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

David Ragan Opens Up About His Final Two Races

AVONDALE, Arizona — When the checkered flag waves at the conclusion of the Bluegreen Vacations 500 at ISM Raceway, there will only be one event remaining in the 2019 season. In conjunction with that, the series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway will also signify the final race for 14-year series veteran, David Ragan, as a full-time driver.

Although the driver of the No. 38 machine may not have had the most storied career, he’s had a sustainable one. With only two races remaining, the Georgia-native is not overly upset to see his profession as a full-time driver come to an end. His intentions upon walking away are putting an emphasis on spending more time with his wife and children.

“I don’t really have a lot of thoughts or emotions going into my last final races,” Ragan told POPULAR SPEED. “It’s business as usual and obviously we want to finish the year on a good note. We’re going to race hard and race for a good finish.”

The 33-year old is not racing for anything of utter importance in terms of Playoff implications, but he would like to close the year out on a strong note to help Front Row Motorsports learn more about their equipment for the 2020 season.

As Ragan gears up for what will be his final race as a full-time driver at the 1.5-mile oval, he offered kind words about the track and reminisced about a few memories throughout his career at the track formerly known as Phoenix International Raceway.

“This is such a unique racetrack – I really enjoyed coming here when they first had that new layout,” said the Front Row Motorsports driver. “Turns one and two are so different from turns three and four and there’s a lot of great race fans out here. I haven’t really had cars that could’ve won a race here, but I’ve got some top-fives and top-10s in the other divisions. I just remember coming out here and it being a really unique racetrack and having fun.”

While this is the end of the road for Ragan as a full-time driver, he revealed in a press conference at the track that he is not done racing completely. The series veteran expressed interest in running a few races part-time and even alluded to the possibility of filling in for teammate Matt Tifft in the 2020 season if asked.

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management to other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered and endorsement.

 

Categories
News

NASCAR Community Offers Help to Hurricane Irma Evacuees

With Hurricane Irma apparently heading for a direct hit on South Florida over the weekend, the NASCAR community is reacting.

Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway are all opening their campgrounds for evacuees fleeing the path of the devastating storm closing in on Florida.

Some specific information:

“With severe weather forecasted to directly affect numerous states throughout the Southeast in the coming days, Bristol Motor Speedway’s campgrounds are open to evacuees of Hurricane Irma,” track officials said in a statementFriday. “Evacuees may call toll free 866.415.4158 for more information. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those in the path of the hurricane.”

Charlotte will open its Rock City Campground off Bruton Smith Boulevard. Evacuees can enter through Entrance Z and will have access to bathhouse facilities on speedway property. “We are happy to open our doors to help those needing a place to seek shelter during this difficult time,” said Greg Walter, the executive vice president of Charlotte Motor Speedway. “We look forward to showing them the hospitality for which we’re known and they deserve.”

At Atlanta Motor Speedway, those interested in RV or tent camping should enter the facility at Entrance “E” off GA Highway 19/41. The Unreserved Campgrounds will be on the left. From I-75 and GA Highway 20, campers should see signs to AMS and follow Lower Woolsey road to Entrance “H” and the Speedway Credential Building. Make a right into Speedway property and then another immediate right onto Richard Petty Boulevard. Follow Richard Petty Boulevard and turn left into Entrance “G”. The campgrounds will be on the right.

For on-site assistance or directions, visit the ticket office/gift store building. For more information, contact Atlanta Motor Speedway at (770) 946-4211 or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.

Talladega Superspeedway will offer campground space with hot shower and restroom facilities, as well as water hookups on gravel and grassy areas – free to evacuees seeking temporary refuge.

“Our track is committed to helping our friends in Florida and the surrounding states during this time of need,” Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch said. “We hope to provide a sense of relief by offering a place to stay for no charge for evacuees during this time of adversity. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in the path of the storm.”

For more information, please contact the Talladega Superspeedway guest services department at (256) 761-4709.

Meanwhile, at Richmond Raceway, site of Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, several drivers including Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth are carrying paint schemes dedicated to victims of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Houston, and the anticipated damage Irma will cause.

“We saw what happened down in the Houston area and the devastation that is there and also looking in the future the next few days of what Florida looks like could possibly happen there,” said Logano. “Obviously we need all hands on deck. If we are able to help out in any little way we should. It is what we should do as contributing members of our society. We should be thinking with our heart at this point. There are a lot of innocent people getting hit hard by these storms lately.”

We got the Red Cross on there (sponsoring his car), the St. Bernard Project to give money to both of those places, so, yeah, it’s obviously a terrible thing in Texas,” said Kenseth. “Toyota moved their headquarters to Texas here recently, so they’re not real far removed from that. Obviously with another one (hurricane) coming, there’s a lot of people that need a lot of help.”

Categories
Commentary

Stage Racing Brings New Era of Competition to Talladega

Strategy is an essential element of restrictor plate racing. With the draft equalizing the competition, a team’s distinct plan to differ their approach could be what leads to victory.

For many years, riding in the back of the field until the closing laps had been a widely used method. It worked well during the tandem drafting days as track position could be made up quickly with two cars locking bumpers.

However, when pack racing returned, the move from the back to the front became challenging to perform in a short amount of time.

As the strategy changed, drivers began bidding their time by running single-file throughout the field during periods of the race. With survival key to success, the competitors opted not to risk crashing before the finish by implementing this approach.

The single-file line of cars often didn’t break up until the closing laps as drivers didn’t want to lose their position by trying to form a second drafting lane.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. benefited from this strategy in May 2015 at Talladega Superspeedway as he led every lap from the final restart with 26 laps to go until the finish when a single-line formed.

The riding around approach may change this weekend at Talladega. With stage racing first being introduced to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Daytona, teams had yet to grasp a strategy associated with the stages fully.

Now having experience under this new format, it could showcase unique techniques in Sunday’s GEICO 500.

Ryan Newman has often preferred to hang back but admits the new race format will impact his game plan.

“I think the stage racing will definitely change the strategy of how I will race this race,” Newman said. “In the past, I would drop to the back and make a run at the front when there was less than 50 laps to go. I think we’ll see what we saw in Daytona earlier this year. I think you may see a few guys drop back for just a little bit but at some point, they will run to the front or at least run to their best position to get points.”

In the DAYTONA 500, some drivers backed out of the draft at times when they saw other competitors making bold moves early in the race but returned to the front once things calmed and end of the stages neared.

Newman believes drivers will approach the stages in the same way as they do at other tracks as it is all about being up front when the points are awarded.

“It really is no different than any other track,” Newman said. “You still have time to kind of put yourself in position or wait to put yourself in position.”

While some competitors may still prefer to ride in the back and improve their chances of being in contention at the end, the points up for grabs following each stage will make running in the top-10 crucial throughout the race.

Newman’s Richard Childress Racing teammate Paul Menard hasn’t been a driver to bide his time at plate tracks. However, he says it will now be harder for those who do to validate that strategy.

“For plate tracks, it really makes it harder to justify riding around and waiting to the end, which is something I’ve never been in favor of under normal circumstances anyway,” Menard said.

There will also be less of a chance for single-file racing to develop as competitors will begin making moves towards the end of each stage to put themselves in a position to battle for the points awarded to the top-10.

Once the first two stages end, drivers will begin positioning themselves for the race win as passing has become increasingly difficult in recent years on plate tracks.

In three of the last four Talladega races, the winner has led over 40 laps. The driver who leads the most laps has often ended up in Victory Lane or finished in the top-five.

Stage racing is ushering in a new and more competitive era of restrictor plate racing. With the strategy of running at the back and waiting until late to make a move being phased out, drivers will now focus on being at the front and collecting stage points throughout the race.

Threatening rain led to intense racing for the lead throughout last May’s race, but it could now be the game plan all competitors use and lead to one of the most exciting Talladega races in recent history.

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EMAIL JASON AT jason.schultz@popularspeed.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Scott, RPM Earn Best Results of 2016 at ‘Dega

It’s no secret Richard Petty Motorsports has had a rough go of it in 2016.

Through the first 31 points races of the Sprint Cup Series season, they had no top 10s and a total of seven laps led.

The organization’s XFINITY Series program shut down after 11 races for financial reasons, and Jeb Burton lost his ride in the No. 43.

All together in Cup, the two RPM drivers Brian Scott and Aric Almirola had a combined 11 DNFs.

But Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway provided the team with much-needed results and Scott notched the best finish of his Cup career.

Scott brought his No. 44 home in second while Almirola finished eighth — his best finish since Dover in October 2015 where he finished fifth.

For Scott, his team’s pre-race strategy went as planned, which set him up for the runner-up finish.

“We had a team meeting before the race,” Scott said. “We knew that we were going to have to be perfect, we are going to have to have no mistakes on pit road. Keep good track position all day and try to make friends throughout the race so they would work with us at the end. Our game plan was executed really well.”

On the final restart, the rookie knew he would need some help to get around race winner Joey Logano. With help from Denny Hamlin, he was able to stay near the front and almost pull off what would have been a surprising victory.

“We had a really solid car, and Roush-Yates Engines were amazing today,” Scott said. “When it came down to the restart there at the end, we’re lucky enough to have Denny Hamlin and some guys work with us to get an opportunity at the win.”

Despite RPM’s struggles in 2016, both drivers have had decent records at the restrictor plate tracks.

Scott won his first career Cup pole at ‘Dega driving for Richard Childress Racing in the No. 33 in May 2014. Two months later, Almirola won his first Cup race at the rain-shortened Coke Zero 400 at Daytona in July.

Earlier this season, Almirola won again at Daytona in July — this time in the XFINITY race with Biagi-DenBeste Racing’s No. 98.

Scott said Sunday’s race helps boost his team’s spirits in what’s been a grueling first, full-time season in NASCAR’s premier series.

“A good finish always helps,” Scott said. “It helps with the team. It helps with the guys at the shop — the morale. Just trying to get any bright spot out of this year has been difficult and I think this has been by far, the brightest spot that we’ve had in a really challenging 2016 for Richard Petty Motorsports.”

EMAIL JOHN AT john.haverlin@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Trucks

Enfinger Makes His Mark in NASCAR With Talladega Win

Long-time ARCA Racing Series driver Grant Enfinger reached a new milestone on Saturday by winning the Fred’s 250 at Talladega Superspeedway.

The victory with GMS Racing’s No. 24 Chevrolet was the first of the Fairhope, Ala. native’s NASCAR career.

Talladega was the track Enfinger attended to watch races as a fan growing up, so winning at his hometown speedway made his first win all the more special.

“My racing career started as a fan up here with my old man,” Enfinger said. “Pretty special and a pretty unbelievable feeling here. A lot of emotions and a lot of friends and family here at this race.”

Enfinger started second at the 2.66-mile track and led 45 of 94 laps in the 250-mile event. He stayed in the top-10 all race long and avoided the “Big Ones,” which collected many of the series regulars in the championship hunt.

When the race came down to the wire with a green-white-checkered restart on Lap 93, the 31-year-old had help retaining the lead from GMS teammate Spencer Gallagher, who finished second, pushing the No. 24’s rear bumper.

Enfinger, the 2015 ARCA champion, only had 12 career NASCAR starts entering Saturday’s race — all in the Truck Series.

After racing several seasons in ARCA, he said his rise in stock car racing’s ranks is a testament to his “stubbornness” to be a successful racecar driver.

Now a part-time truck racer, he is thankful for GMS team owner Maurice Gallagher Jr. giving him the opportunity in both ARCA and NASCAR’s third-tier level.

EMAIL JOHN AT john.haverlin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @The5thJohnHav

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Trucks

Nemechek’s Title Hopes … And Engine, Go Up in Smoke

Entering Saturday’s Fred’s 250 at Talladega Superspeedway, John Hunter Nemechek was one of the two drivers outside the cutoff for the next round of the inaugural Camping World Truck Series Chase.

Nemechek needed to have a strong finish to advance to the Round of 6, but his race was short-lived after the engine of his No. 8 expired on Lap 13 of the 94-lap race.

Nemechek was running in the top 10 when his truck’s motor went up in smoke. The failure ultimately squashed his championship hopes.

There was no indication of the truck overheating according to Nemechek.

“All my temps were fine,” he told Fox Sports. “I haven’t seen a blow up like that in a while. Definitely disappointing, but that’s how our last three weeks have been.”

The last three races have resulted in finishes of 14th, ninth, and 16th for the No. 8 team, including a 10-point penalty following New Hampshire for a rules violation.

The 19-year-old son of former NASCAR driver Joe Nemechek won two truck races this season at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Although he won’t win the title this year, he wants to salvage the 2016 season with a few more victories.

He said, “Hopefully we can go forward and win some races before the season is over.”

EMAIL JOHN AT john.haverlin@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Trucks

Forrister, Kligerman Find Rides for ‘Dega

Two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers will have new rides this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

Korbin Forrister will be behind the wheel of the No. 5 All Secure Document Disposal Company Toyota Tundra for Wauters Motorsports, and Parker Kligerman will drive the No. 75 Food Country USA Chevrolet Silverado for Henderson Motorsports.

Team owner Richie Wauters will serve as the crew chief for Forrister, and Chris Carrier will be atop the pit box for Kligerman.

“Wauters Motorsports is excited to be going racing at Talladega Superspeedway. We’ve always enjoyed superspeedway racing,” Wauters said in a press release. “I’ve always had good trucks and the Toyota Tundra should be strong this weekend with Korbin Forrister behind the wheel. We are looking forward to getting some good seat time and experience for Korbin this weekend.”

Forrister, a Georgia native, has made two career Truck starts at Talladega, as well as a pair of starts in the ARCA Racing Series.

Kligerman has made 11 total starts this season at the Truck Series level. 10 of those starts came for Ricky Benton Racing in the No. 92 Ford F-150. He also subbed for an injured John Wes Townley in the Athenian Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado for one race.

Though consistent seat-time has been an issue for Kligerman, he should feel confident heading to the largest speedway on the NASCAR circuit. He won the race in 2012 driving for Red Horse Racing, the first win of his Truck Series career. His last Truck start at Talladega came in 2013 and he finished fourth.

The Fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola Camping World Truck Series race from Talladega Superspeedway is set to begin at 1:00 pm Saturday, Oct. 22 and can be seen live on FOX.

Shane Carlson is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist

EMAIL SHANE AT shane.carlson@popularspeed.com
TWITTER: @ShaneCarlson4

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Reed Ready for Cup Debut

Roush Fenway Racing driver Ryan Reed will attempt to qualify and make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut in the Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 23. Reed will pilot a fourth team car for Roush Fenway, the No. 99 Lilly Diabetes/American Diabetes Association Ford Fusion.

“I am really looking forward to Talladega and racing in the Sprint Cup race, he said. “For anyone that has ever had the chance to get behind the wheel of a race car, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the ultimate goal.”

In 2011, Reed was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and doctors told him he would never race again.

The doctors were wrong in their assessment of Reed’s future.

Fast-forward to 2016, and Reed finds himself in his third full-time season at the XFINITY Series level, contending for a championship in the inaugural XFINITY Series Chase. Heading into Dover this weekend, Reed is fourth in the standings and trails points leader Elliott Sadler by 16 points.

“To realize that dream and to have been able to do it properly managing my diabetes means a lot to me and the people that have stood beside me,” Reed said. “My goal is to qualify for the race, have a strong performance and continue to show people that with the proper management and support team you can overcome the obstacle in front of you – even diabetes – and accomplish your dreams.”

In his XFINITY Series career at Talladega, which spans three races, he has qualified inside the top-10 each time and has led 10 laps, with a best finish of 24th.

Reed has one career XFINITY Series win in 99 starts, which came at the 2015 season-opener at Daytona International Speedway.

The No. 99 Ford has a rich history and was a weekly NASCAR Sprint Cup entry from 1996 through 2014, with Jeff Burton and Carl Edwards, the primary drivers in that span. In those eight seasons, the No. 99 went to Victory Lane 40 times and led over 9,500 laps in Sprint Cup.

The Alabama 500 from Talladega Superspeedway is set to go green on Sunday, October 23 at 2:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN and MRN.

Shane Carlson is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist

EMAIL SHANE AT shane.carlson@popularspeed.com
TWITTER: @ShaneCarlson4

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Commentary

WAID’S WORLD: When It Comes to Talladega, Is It Racing Or Mayhem?

There has been a lot of discussion and debate – even here at POPULAR SPEED – about the carnage that was the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

The general consensus is that while the racing was indeed exciting and gripping, the rash of unwanted multi-car crashes accented the dangers at Talladega.

Thirty-five of 40 cars were involved in some sort of accident and some drivers, while not seriously injured, left their cars staggering and gasping. Some of the accidents were terrifying with cars airborne, flipping wildly or on fire.

Chris Buescher flipped three times. Kevin Harvick slid across the fence on his roof. Danica Patrick crashed with Matt Kenseth and her car burst into flames. There was even a massive multi-car wreck on the last lap just about the time leader Brad Keselowski crossed the finish line to win his second race of the season.

It was what’s called a “Big One” in an event that had many of them.

Reactions have been varied. Many fans say NASCAR was lucky that no one was killed and must do something to prevent any more mayhem.

It was said that if International Speedway Corp. didn’t own Talladega, NASCAR would never sanction a race there. After all, it has pulled out of other tracks for reasons far less compelling.

An aside: That’s never going to happen.

Others say the kind of racing displayed at Talladega is exactly what they want. Cars ran three, even four, abreast lap after lap and for once passing for the lead was, at long last, something that was far from rare or even nonexistent.

In short, it was riveting and refreshing from what Talladega has had in the past.

These fans got what they wanted. Others suggest they be careful for what they wish – it just might be more than desired. That is the dilemma.

First, a brief history. Talladega has been a place with a legacy of strange occurrences. Maybe that’s because a Native American medicine man placed a curse on the valley after Andrew Jackson drove his tribe away. Or so the story goes.

Two cars crashed once. No big deal except they were the only two on the track. One slid in the first turn into the wall and the other, somehow, managed to roar out of the fourth turn and slam into it.

An entire fleet of cars was sabotaged. A driver’s mother was struck by a truck in the paddock area during a race and was killed. An ominous black cloud coupled with driving rain and fierce winds engulfed the backstretch and third turn just as an ARCA car went into the fourth turn and sped to pit road.

Speaking of the “Big One” perhaps the biggest – and certainly the most notorious – of them all came in 1973, when 21 cars were involved in a melee. Like shrapnel, metal flew everywhere. Engines and transmissions littered the track. Cars were crushed like empty beer cans.

Buddy Baker and Cale Yarborough, both involved in the accident, escaped from their cars and hugged each other. They were glad to be alive. As soon as they did another car sailed over their heads.

“I didn’t think it was ever going to stop,” Yarborough said.

“Big Ones” have always been a part of Talladega. Not a race approaches without due notice given to the possibility of mayhem.

Remember that, not so long ago, Talladega races were composed of single-file parades due largely to cars’ inability to avoid aero push, among other things. The car in the lead was the target. But unless another gained some help in the draft with a push, to make a pass was impossible.

Without assistance the car attempting to take the lead fell to the rear quicker than a rock sinks in a swimming pool. As best as I recall, darn few of us liked that kind of racing. But the “Big One” didn’t go away. All it took was a mistake by one car and many became involved.

It’s the same today. But the major difference is that in three, four-pack racing, the situation is far more treacherous. A mere bobble can result in chaos.

But isn’t that something we, as fans, find alluring? We want to see drivers throw themselves at danger. We want to see them take risks that even they admit they would not normally take. We want to see them go as fast as possible as closely as possible.

This increases the odds for accidents. They are inevitable, so the best for which we can hope is that everyone walks away.

Racing is a challenge filled with risk. If it wasn’t there would not be drama and without drama, would we really be interested?

Can anything be done to lessen the risk at Talladega? I’m not sure anyone has an answer.

Runner-up Kyle Busch admitted he didn’t. He added that racing at Talladega has been the way it is for 40 years so why complain?

“I’ve been asked a couple times already what I think NASCAR should do,” said Austin Dillon, who finished third. “I know with the smart people we have in NASCAR, all the companies, that we can probably do something to figure it out. We need to.

“NASCAR has made the car safer.  That’s the reason we’re walking away from these crashes.”

Dillon added the sanctioning body should find a way to keep cars from getting airborne.

“I’ve been flying at Daytona and it is no fun,” he said.

“We still get in the cars,” Keselowski said, “and we’re pretty much self-policing. There’s still interest so we will keep going.”

As said, when it comes to Talladega, there are two camps – one that claims racing is decidedly unsafe and the other which savors the exciting, tense competition.

My thinking is the latter is in the majority.

EMAIL STEVE AT steve.waid@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement

Categories
Commentary

Blurred Lines: Time To Drop Locked Bumper Ban

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: NASCAR is consistently inconsistent.

Before we get any further, allow me to go ahead and put it out there. NASCAR’s rule against locking bumpers in the XFINITY Series may be the most subjective and questionable rule the sport has ever seen, including the “100 percent” rule.

NASCAR has never actually defined what is and isn’t allowed when it comes to locking together in the draft. They only penalize what they deem to be excessive. How are competitors expected to follow a rule when there are no set guidelines for what is and isn’t allowed?

When the sanctioning body made the rule that outlawed the tandem draft, then-vice president of competition Robin Pemberton had the following to say at a preseason test at Daytona in regard to how the drafting would be regulated:

“I think we’ve established so far what the tolerances are, and so far they’ve accepted that and worked around it for all of this practice.”

During the first race with the rule in place, NASCAR was quick to act on what they felt was an illegal draft between James Buescher and Brad Keselowski. Buescher was black flagged for pushing, but Keselowski was allowed to stay on the track without penalty.

“We felt that the 99 [Buescher] was more the aggressor in the situation,” Pemberton said of that incident.

The latest example of inconsistent officiating came in the opening laps of Saturday’s Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega. Aric Almirola and Brendan Gaughan were drafting together in the top 10 when NASCAR issued a pass-through penalty for each driver for locking bumpers. Gaughan, who was being pushed by Almirola, was livid with the call and voiced his displeasure over his team’s in-car communication.

“He [Almirola] shot me off him three times, so I didn’t lock bumpers intentionally,” Gaughan said.

Going back to the Buescher incident, why would NASCAR penalize both cars when the car being pushed is essentially “along for the ride?”

Fast forward to overtime.

As the field raced up to speed, the top six drivers were locked together in a pair of three-car trains. On the inside, eventual winner Elliott Sadler latched onto the bumper of Joey Logano with Justin Allgaier bringing up the rear. Sadler dropped off of Logano exiting Turn 2, but Allgaier remained tucked underneath Sadler’s Chevy all the way through Turn 4.

In the outside lane, Jeremy Clements pushed Brennan Poole in what appeared to be an obvious tandem draft. After the dust settled and NASCAR sorted out the final running order, there was no mention of locking bumper penalties being considered by officials.

Saturday’s finish wasn’t the first time NASCAR “swallowed the whistle” late in a restrictor-plate race. In the season-opening race at Daytona, similar circumstances led to Chase Elliott picking up the win over Logano, after the pair seemingly locked together at the end.

NASCAR doesn’t want the finish of an event mired in controversy.  They’re already charged with having to make a split-second decision, knowing that someone is likely going home unhappy.

But that’s not a viable excuse to abandon the rules. If it’s good enough to be called in the first ten laps of the race, then it should be good enough to be called with ten laps to go.

It’s just a matter of being consistent.

EMAIL HANK AT editors@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.