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.’’