Nascar Rules At Restrictor Plate Tracks Cloudy

Michael VarratoContributor IJuly 7, 2008

Why are the Nascar rulings at restrictor plate tracks so cloudy?  Is anybody sure when Nascar decides when or when not to throw the yellow in these last lap situations at restrictor plate tracks?  Or why do certain drivers tend to get certain breaks?

The race Saturday evening at Daytona was not nearly as controversial, but it brought me back to the Daytona 500 in 2006.   Many believe Mark Martin was robbed of his first restrictor plate victory ever, and what would have been a monumental stamp on a great career. 

As Martin & Harvick approached the finish line on the last last, a wreck broke out where the yellow was not thrown, Kevin Harvick raced back to the line and Mark Martin did not although he only lost by a nose.  Kevin Harvick ended up in victory lane on that day, because of a very unclear ruling by Nascar, and although Mark Martin never understood why he was not the winner, he graciously took the loss. Conspiracy Theorists went crazy.  To this day, no one outside the Harvick camp can really say Nascar made a clear cut ruling.

Another prime example is in the Aarons 499 at Talladega in 2003 when Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his fourth consecutive race at the Daytona sister track.  In the last four laps of the race the lead changed several times, the final pass Earnhardt made to take the lead was clearly on the apron below the yellow line. 

If you are familiar with the rules of Nascar, Daytona and Talladega have a rule of no passing underneath the yellow line, or the car that made the pass must give the spot back.  Earnhardt did not give any spots back and went on to win his fourth straight race at Talladega.  Other Nascar teams were outraged and the questions were never really directly addressed by Nascar.

With that said, I do not believe the yellow should have been thrown when Jeff Gordon was turned because he was out of harms way and he got rolling again.  But only half a lap later another accident broke out and of course we were left to sit there and speculate who won.  Now last time I had checked, we used these scoring loops to decide who would win. 

Such as in 2007 when Jeff Gordon won the Aarons 499 at Talladega under yellow and they used scoring loops to decide he was the victor and then the Junior fans littered the track with beer cans, very entertaining.

So why on Saturday did we use video evidence to see when the yellow lights went on to figure out our winner?  I do not disagree with the video over the scoring loops, I think it's a more genuine way to pick the true winner.  But where is the consistency nascar? 

I need to know why Brian Vickers in 2007 had to give back a spot at Talladega and Junior did not in 2004 with no rules changed.  I need to know why you did not throw the yellow and let Harvick and Martin go green-white-checker.