Sometimes you get what you asked for but never truly understood what you were getting until it was too late.
The analogy certainly applies to Brad Keselowski, who received the first controversial jumped restart penalty since NASCAR began closely monitoring them for the start of the playoffs last weekend at Chicagoland.
First, for those who missed it, here’s a replay of the restart in question.
As you can tell, Keselowski appeared to accelerate just before Biffle but the Roush Fenway veteran spun his tires, making the transgression look worse than it seemingly was. The jumped restart didn’t even benefit Keselowski as Biffle quickly retook the top spot out of Turn 1, making it a non-issue in the eyes of everyone but NASCAR.
But the rules are the rules, and enforcement is what drivers demanded last week at Chase Media Day in Downtown Chicago.
The Sanctioning Body responded by placing additional cameras near the restart zones and implementing technology to better analyze what is arguably the most important element of NASCAR events. Last weekend, the tower reviewed a Jeff Gordon restart but ultimately concluded that it was legal.
By declaring Keselowski’s illegal, NASCAR has now set a standard in which all future restarts will be judged.
The key, as always when rating such decisions, is consistency.
Due to the inherent struggles in umpiring restarts, NASCAR felt it was best to leave it in the hands of the drivers, with top official Steve O’Donnell saying as much following Richmond. Judging restarts is an imperfect science and with NASCAR taking over the reigns, there will be some judgement calls like Sunday.
So here’s a better conversation starter:
Is a pass through the fairest penalty for a jumped restart?
Given the imperfect nature of judging restarts, a more fitting penalty might be ordering the offending driver to simply give back the position. It seems like a wrist slap compared to the status quo but it might be the fairest solution for an unfair procedure.
But like Keselowski said on Sunday, “this is entertainment, not fair,” so the debate will continue.
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