Should NASCAR enforce speed line on restarts in wake of Richmond finish?

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Denny Hamlin got his second win of the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season in last weekend’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway, but it came with controversy.

Hamlin, who got out of pit road first and was in first place, accelerated too quickly past the restart line on the final restart in NASCAR overtime, but nothing was called. He, of course, went on to win the race.

On the latest edition of “Kevin Harvick’s Happy Hour,” host Kevin Harvick offered up a solution for restarts.

“If you’re going to paint a line on the track, you should use the line,” Harvick said. “If your football team steps on the line, you’re out of bounds, right? If the ball doesn’t cross the plane, is it a touchdown? And I think if you’re going to paint a line on the racetrack to officiate a situation — yeah, none of us want NASCAR involved in it, but NASCAR wouldn’t even have to be involved in it — put a speed line there just like they do on pit road. Make the speed entering the box X amount, give them five miles per hour — whatever the pace car speed is plus five miles per hour — and put a line across the racetrack. And if you’re faster than that with the length of the car that would be the nose at the line of the restart zone, the computer can call the penalty at that particular point. … 

“As a driver, we know that we put them in a really tough position if you go a half-a-car length before the restart zone at the end of the race. Denny Hamlin knew that; he knows that; every driver in the field knows that … as a driver, I know right now that if I go a little bit before that line, it’s not going to get called on the last restart because they don’t want to affect the outcome of the race.”

In an appearance on Tuesday’s edition of “NASCAR Race Hub,” NASCAR senior vice president of competition Elton Sawyer expressed that they made the “right” call in live time, but also that further review showed Hamlin “did roll early.” 

Too little, too late for Martin Truex Jr., though, who was in second place on the restart and ultimately finished fourth. Truex proceeded to blow a gasket at Hamlin and others after the race.

As for the aforementioned speed line on pit road, NASCAR has a speed limit for drivers coming into pit road. The same concept would presumably apply on restarts throughout an entire race.

Next up on the NASCAR schedule is another short-track race, the Cook Out 400 at Martinsville Speedway (3 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app).

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