By admin | April 30, 2012
By Richard Allen
With just under 100 laps to go in the Capital City 400 at the Richmond International Raceway, Carl Edwards was black flagged by NASCAR and forced to execute a drive-through penalty which essentially ended any chance he had of winning that race. According to the rule enforcement body of the sport, the #99 car had fired too soon on the late race restart.
And as is so often the case in any sport on such judgment calls, there has since been much debate on the circumstances since the time the penalty was called. In one way or another, an inexcusable error was made which cost Edwards his chance at victory.
Edwards and his team insist that a NASCAR official told their spotter that their car was indeed the leader of the race and that they controlled the restart. As a result, the driver took off when he felt it prudent to do so and got out to a sizeable lead almost immediately. That, in turn, drew attention to the way in which he gained the advantage and ultimately led to the assessment of the penalty.
If a NASCAR official did indeed pass along inaccurate information as to which car was leading the race, that is a mistake that cannot be made. Too much is at stake for these teams for those governing the sport not to know what is going on at such a critical juncture.
However, there are others who might be as much or more at fault for the errors that led to the fateful black flag.
It has to be asked just how a team with a driver, a spotter, a crew chief and multiple other crew members and support personnel does not know whether or not they are leading the race. Granted, with all the wave around and ‘Lucky Dog’ cars driving around, there is the opportunity for confusion. But once everyone was lined up for the restart, shouldn’t it be apparent that their car either had been ahead or behind the car lined up next to them while riding under caution?
It is inexcusable for such a major team as Roush Fenway Racing not to have someone who knew whether they were leading the race without having to ask an official.
And finally, the driver himself bears some of the blame. Television replays showed that even if Edwards had indeed been the leader, he fired before he got to the restart box marked on the track. Of course, the restart box has been treated as somewhat of a suggestion more than a hard and fast rule since racing began. Nonetheless, jumping early at that particular time in the race was not really worth the risk.
Somehow, someone made a critical and costly error leading up to the moment Carl Edwards was brought in to serve a penalty. Whether it was a NASCAR official, the team, the driver or some combination of all, the error could have and should have been avoided and was inexcusable.
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