NASCAR talks restarts with drivers
INDIANAPOLIS -- NASCAR lectured Sprint Cup drivers prior to Sunday's Brickyard 400 on the etiquette of restarts following a controversy in Saturday's Nationwide Series race.
Nationwide Series points leader Elliott Sadler was black-flagged for jumping the restart on winner Brad Keselowski with 18 laps remaining. Sadler argued that Keselowski spun his tires on the restart and that he had no choice but to keep going with Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon pushing him from behind.
Team owner Richard Childress lobbied a complaint with NASCAR after the race and again with Nationwide Series director Joe Balash on Sunday morning.
Cup race director David Hoots said in the driver's meeting that it is the responsibility of all drivers, not just the front row, to make sure the leader restarts the race. Hoots also said it was the responsibility of the leader to restart the race without dragging his brakes or using other tricks to gain an advantage.
NASCAR president Mike Helton said if drivers behind the front row don't take responsibility on restarts, they could be penalized as well. This came after five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson asked what other options Sadler had with Dillon pushing him.
"You can put us in a box that we may have to react to that driver,'' Helton said sternly.
Defending Cup champion Tony Stewart left the meeting saying, "This brings back memories of the sixth grade ... seventh grade ... eighth grade.''
Johnson and several other drivers questioned why NASCAR can't wave off the restart when jumped like they do in other series.
Hoots reminded drivers restarts is a "simple'' process.
Sadler's pass-through penalty dropped him way back in the field. He rallied to finish 15th to maintain a one-point lead in the standings over Dillon. Childress said he thought about the situation that potentially could cost Sadler the title all night.
"I felt like it was a poor decision on their part,'' he said of NASCAR after meeting with Balash. "I'm sick to my stomach about it. You lose Indy, it's big.''
Childress said had Sadler dragged his brake, he could have caused a major wreck.
"We feel like we lost 15 points,'' Childress said. "They felt like after looking at all the tape they made the right call. I'm still pretty disappointed today. That's about as clean of a word as I can use.''