NASCAR explains why commitment line rule was changed for Richmond

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NASCAR changed the commitment line rule at Richmond International Raceway but a series official said the sanctioning body made the new rule “abundantly clear” to competitors.

NASCAR penalized 10 drivers — six in Sunday’s Cup race and four in Saturday’s Xfinity race— for commitment line violations. Penalized in the Cup race were Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, Danica Patrick and Reed Sorenson.

Last year, drivers were committed to pit road if they put two tires on or below the orange box at the top of the commitment line.

In the rules video, which was played before Saturday’s Xfinity and Sunday’s Cup race, it stated: “The yellow commitment line is identified by an orange painted box. You are committed to pit road if you put four tires below the orange box.’’

Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, explained the reason for the change on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

“The reason that we changed it is we needed to really make it universal across the series so that everybody communicating about the commitment line had a common message across all of the race tracks,’’ Miller said.

“Some places it was two tires, some places there was an orange cone, some places it was this, some places it was that. To us, actually, for you guys to report on or for television to show a different commitment line rule like every week got to be a little bit of a challenge, so we huddled up and came up with the universal rule for all tracks and clearly communicated it to the industry.’’

The rule is listed in Section 10.9.3.e in the Cup Rule Book. It was stated in the video and Richard Buck, Cup series director, reiterated the rule change after the video during the drivers meeting before Sunday’s race.

“We actually made it abundantly clear and kept stressing that the commitment line rule has changed at Richmond,’’ Miller said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “They got in the heat of battle and obviously didn’t remember what we said. Unfortunate circumstance.

“We make the rule, we have to live by it and officiate by it and that’s what happened yesterday. I think that’s probably no different than the extra timing lines and the speeding penalties when we put that in, it’s just them trying to get used to something new seems to be pretty difficult.’’

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Matt Kenseth: Brickyard 400 restarts ‘kind of ridiculous’

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Matt Kenseth came close to winning Sunday’s Brickyard 400, but ultimately finished fifth.

Kenseth called the race “kind of ridiculous” down the stretch because of the several restarts that brought about further havoc and wrecks.

Kenseth competed in his final Brickyard 400 for Joe Gibbs Racing. With his future uncertain and whether he’ll be able to continue racing in 2018, could Sunday have been the final Brickyard 400 of his career, much like good friend Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is retiring after this season?

Check out the video above for Kenseth’s comments on the race.

Rick Hendrick on Kasey Kahne’s future: ‘Our plans are not set for the No. 5 car’

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INDIANAPOLIS – Brickyard 400 winner Kasey Kahne has a contract for 2018 at Hendrick Motorsports but possibly doesn’t have a job next season.

Team owner Rick Hendrick confirmed Sunday night that “our plans are not set for the No. 5 car” after Kahne ended a 102-race winless streak in the Cup Series.

“There’s nothing concrete or done, and that hasn’t changed,” Hendrick said. “We’ll see how things shake out the rest of the year.  There’s a lot of things involved, sponsors and a lot of things we look at.  We’re going to try hard.  But there’s no decisions made at this time.”

Kahne felt the 18th victory of his career helped him make a case for staying in the No. 5 Chevrolet.

“I think this shows I still want to win races,” he said. “It shows I gave it all that I can to get a win and shows that I’m passionate about driving stock cars, and that I can still win races, too.

“I have a deal through 2018 with Hendrick Motorsports. I hear a lot of things, but it’s tough to say exactly what’s going to happen. I don’t know at this point and time. I know me and Mr. H will figure it out. I think this shows that I want to be and still have the drive and passion to do it, so I’m going to keep trying hard I know that.”

During a Sunday morning pre-race news conference to formally introduce Alex Bowman as the replacement next season for Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick said he planned to run four cars next season but deflected a question about Kahne’s status (“that’s for another day”).

Xfinity Series rookie William Byron, who is under contract to Hendrick, would be an option for the No. 5 Chevrolet, but Hendrick said “we’re not ready to cross that bridge yet” when asked about Byron’s Cup future.

Kahne is ranked 22nd in the points standings with only four top 10s in 20 races this season.

“When you’ve had a rough road, your confidence gets down,” Hendrick said. “He said, ‘I know I can do it. The harder I try, the more it seems like I have this rough bad luck.’

“Something like this (win) can be really good for any guy to have, the whole team, to have confidence.  … All I can say about Kasey is he shows up, he shows up on time, and he shows up on time with his game face on, and he puts in the effort. Sometimes it just takes a break.  But he’s done everything.  I know in his heart he wants to do it.  He’s trying, so … ”

Ryan Newman on Brickyard 400: ‘That’s not racing, just craziness’

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Ryan Newman was in the right place at the right time in Sunday’s Brickyard 400, finishing third.

It was Newman’s second-best finish of 2017 after his win earlier this year at Phoenix.

But Newman, who is never afraid to speak his mind, did just that after Sunday’s race. Even with his strong finish, he echoed the comments of several other drivers that the racing action — particularly restarts — by saying, “That’s not racing, just craziness.”

Check out what Newman had to say in the video above.

Joey Logano’s fourth-place finish is bittersweet as playoff chances dip

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Joey Logano had a bittersweet day in Sunday’s Brickyard 400.

He finished a strong fourth in the incident-filled 24th edition of the Brickyard 400. It was just Logano’s second top-five finish and third top-10 showing in the last 11 races.

But there was also bad news, too.

Kasey Kahne‘s win knocked Logano further back in his bid to rejoin the top-16 drivers eligible for the upcoming NASCAR playoffs. With Clint Bowyer dropping out of the top-16 and Kahne moving into playoff contention, Logano has slipped back to 18th place in the playoff-eligible standings.

As a result, Logano all but has to win one of the next six races to qualify for the playoffs — unless he can point his way in with continued strong top-five finishes.

Logano talked about the situation he faces with NBC Sports after Sunday’s race. Click on the above video to see what he had to say.