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.