Did Edwards benefit from no-call on final restart?

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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.

F1 2017 driver review: Lewis Hamilton

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Following on from the driver reviews from the Verizon IndyCar Series, MotorSportsTalk kicks off its Formula 1 recaps by looking back on Lewis Hamilton’s championship year.

Lewis Hamilton

Team: Mercedes AMG Petronas
Car No.: 44
Races: 20
Wins: 9
Podiums (excluding wins): 4
Pole Positions: 11
Fastest Laps: 7
Points: 363
Laps Led: 527
Championship Position: 1st

Lewis Hamilton may have wrapped up his fourth Formula 1 world title with two races to spare, but his margin of victory was far from representative of what was arguably his greatest championship victory yet.

Mercedes entered 2017 bidding to become the first team to defend its titles across a seismic regulation change, and appeared to be on the back foot early on after Ferrari impressed in pre-season testing and won the opening race through Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton was left wrestling with a “diva” of a car, as coined by Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, but was able to get on top of it by the second race of the year in China, taking a dominant win in wet-dry conditions.

The win was representative of Hamilton’s form through the first portion of the season. When he won, he won in style – as in Spain, Canada and on home soil in Great Britain – but the off weekends saw him struggle.

Heading into the summer break, Vettel’s championship lead stood at 14 points, with the pair’s on-track rivalry having already spilled over in Baku when they made contact behind the safety car.

But Hamilton then produced the form that propelled him to titles in 2014 and 2015, breaking the back of the season through the final flyaways. As Vettel and Ferrari capitulated over the Asian rounds, picking up just 12 points when a full score of 75 for three wins was certainly in reach, Hamilton capitalised and put himself on the brink of the title.

While Hamilton’s run to P9 in Mexico was a messy way to wrap up his hardest-fought title to date, getting across the line and the job done was a significant result.

Unlike his last two titles, Hamilton was tasked with an enemy outside of the team in this title race and a car that arguably wasn’t the fastest on the grid.

But his unquestionable talent and ability to dig deep to get himself out of tough situations – Singapore and Brazil being two key examples where the result was far from expected – proved crucial once again.

Hamilton is now in the annals of F1 history as one of its all-time greats. The pole record is his, and only two drivers can boast more world titles than him (Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio).

Depending on how long he wants to continue racing, going down as F1’s statistical all-time great is certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

Season High: Charging from the pit lane to P4 in Brazil, a race he could have even won.

Season Low: Dropping out in Q2 in Monaco, only recovering to P7 in the race.