Despite a push from some competitors that restarts need to be better policed, NASCAR does not plan to change how it officiates those.
Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, addressed the topic Monday on “The Morning Drive.’’
Drivers were vocal about how NASCAR officiates restarts last weekend at Bristol. Some questioned NASCAR during the drivers meeting. Dale Earnhardt Jr. called for officials to “keep people honest” after the Bristol race.
O’Donnell said officials want the responsibility for a good restart to remain on the drivers.
“We’ve told the drivers that we’d like to leave it in their hands,’’ O’Donnell said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The rule is clear. We’ve got a restart zone. We’ve got a bunch of technology and spotters we can use to look at and make calls. We would like to leave it and continue to leave it in the drivers’ hands but that’s something we’ll continue to look at.’’
Drivers have become more vocal because some see a level of inconsistency in calls being made – or not made on restarts.
“We’re confident in the calls we’ve made,’’ O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The leader restarts the race. It’s something we’ve always got to look at. It’s a hot topic when you see things in one or two races in a row that becomes a theme. Hopefully, we get into Darlington and that settles down a bit and we get back to racing.’’
O’Donnell was asked on “The Morning Drive” how much of a judgment call it is to decide if to penalize a driver on a restart.
“I think it’s pretty black and white,’’ he said. “There are times when we have to make a judgment on did a driver spin his tires and you see kind of that line stack up behind them. In that case, we’ll make a call and it’s our judgment based on what the video review was. But for the must part, there’s so much technology now that you can look at and we’re able share that with the team postrace.’’
Asked on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio at what point NASCAR would need to intervene, O’Donnell said:
“I think you look at an entire season. Has it become a multiple occurrence? The good news for us is we’ve got so many different series we can look at. We can take a look at what are some of the common elements that may or may not be happening in a race and focus in on those. We’ll have the dialogue in the garage area. Certainly, the guys behind the wheel need to feel confident each and every race.’’