Federated Auto Parts 400

Did Edwards benefit from no-call on final restart?


All the post-race buzz after last night’s Chase decider at Richmond International Raceway was centered on Clint Bowyer’s possibly intentional spin with seven laps to go. But the final restart of the race with three laps left also raised some eyebrows as well.

Prior to the green, the leaders had pitted under caution with Paul Menard coming out with the lead after taking two tires and Carl Edwards moving to second after taking four tires.

But when the race restarted, Edwards wound up beating the leader Menard to the start/finish line. NASCAR opted not to penalize Edwards, who went on to win his second race of the year.

Afterwards, Edwards contended that Menard had spun his tires on the restart.

“At that point, I mean, I really have a choice to either lift off the throttle and wait for him to try to gather it up,” Edwards said. “I’ve never seen a guy able to gather up too quickly when they spin that bad, or go and hope NASCAR understands that he spun his tires.

“In this case, they did. They understand he came up and hit me and spun his tires. The guy in second place in that circumstance is in a tough position.

“If I had lifted and waited, I think the whole field would have run over us. You just can’t. If he had four tires, it probably would have been different.”

Menard didn’t mention the restart in his post-race comments from Richard Childress Racing, instead touching on how the call to take just right-side tires simply didn’t work out.

“We tried strategy in hopes of bringing home a win, but two tires couldn’t hold off the guys with four,” he said in the RCR statement.

However, that didn’t stop Menard’s crew chief, Richard “Slugger” Labbe, from venting on Twitter about the situation:

An interesting note: The #ballsandstrikes hashtag is an apparent reference to comments made by NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton during last night’s pre-race driver meeting.

“As many of you may have some questions on restarts tonight, I would remind you there are a few things we still have to have a judgment call on, OK?,” he said according to USA Today’s Jeff Gluck. “There are balls and there are strikes. Sometimes you don’t like the call; sometimes, we don’t even like the call we have to make.”

In Friday night’s Nationwide Series race at RIR, the final restart saw Brad Keselowski appear to move ahead of Brian Scott before the two crossed the acceleration box. NASCAR did not penalize Keselowski in that situation either, and he went on to win.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In 15th and the rookie-of-the-year for 2015, was Gabby Chaves.

Gabby Chaves, No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

  • 2014: Indy Lights champion
  • 2015: 15th Place, Best Finish 9th, Best Start 12th, 0 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 31 Laps Led, 19.3 Avg. Start, 14.4 Avg. Finish

Some drivers finish better than their performances show. Some drivers have performances better than their results show. The latter statement applied to Gabby Chaves in his rookie year, in what was an impressive first season after making the step up from Indy Lights, which deservedly earned him rookie-of-the-year honors.

The best comparison I’d make for Gabby is of Josef Newgarden in 2012 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, a first-year driver on a single-car, newish team to the series.

Chaves rarely dazzled in qualifying but that wasn’t his fault; he and engineer John Dick worked well together and Chaves recounted multiple times this year that a tweak here or tweak there, the wrong way, on the aero kit would send them down the wrong setup path.

Results in races didn’t measure up either but again that was through almost no fault of his own. The only time Chaves looked truly like a rookie was at St. Pete, when he had several collisions. Otherwise he was ahead of eventual winner James Hinchcliffe at NOLA before getting punted off, reliable through the month of May in Indianapolis, finally able to break through for a ninth place in Detroit race two, overachieving in Texas, 11th at Milwaukee after some great wheel-to-wheel racing with series winners and champions, and then phenomenal at Pocono as he was on course for a first career win or podium before late-race engine issues – his first DNF of the season.

For both Chaves and Herta, you’d love to see them together for another season, and the results and confidence for both parties will grow as a result. Those who’ve seen Newgarden’s rise over four years with Fisher and now CFH will note the long-term stability, and that’s what Chaves could do if he gets the time.

He planted the seed of being a great IndyCar driver, and he became pretty versatile during the year too with additional appearances in the DeltaWing prototype, a short-track midget and one of Herta’s Red Bull Global Rallycross cars. To boot, he’s a smart, great kid who is mature beyond his years, and someone you should be buying stock in now. Anyone who saw Chaves in the Mazda Road to Indy should not have been surprised by his rookie season in the big cars.

Off The Grid: Monza preview (premieres Saturday 10/10 on NBCSN)

F1 Grand Prix of Italy
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Having already taken you behind the scenes in Barcelona, Budapest, Singapore, Melbourne and Silverstone, Will Buxton and Jason Swales now head to one of Formula 1’s most iconic venues for the latest episode of Off The Grid.

Monza has appeared in all but one F1 season since the formation of the world championship in 1950, and is a firm favorite among drivers, teams and fans alike.

However, there is far more to the Italian Grand Prix than meets the eye, as we find out in Saturday’s premiere of Off The Grid: Monza at 9:30am ET (follows Russian GP qualifying).

Having honed his talents in go-karts as a kid, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo is now trying to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of racers. But can he teach Will or Jason a thing or two?

We also catch up with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and get a feel for life on the road as he takes us for a tour of his lavish bus in which he travels in for the European F1 races.

Have you ever wondered just how the suits F1 drivers wear are made? We go behind the scenes at Alpine Stars’ factory in Italy and find out.

Off The Grid: Monza premieres on Saturday at 9:30am ET on NBCSN following Russian GP qualifying.