Should NASCAR have penalized Denny Hamlin for wrecking Chase Elliott at Martinsville?
Steve Letarte: Absolutely not. NASCAR has been clear in every conversation I’ve ever had with them that they’ll get involved in a case like Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano when one car is multiple laps down and it’s true retaliation. When it comes to two cars running for position, whether it was on purpose or not on purpose is between the drivers. I don’t think we want the sanctioning body becoming referees. They are the officials, and they have to run the race and make sure everybody runs the race according to the rules, but as far as rough driving or not rough driving when it comes for a position on the race track, I don’t think that’s the sanction body’s position to get involved.
Nate Ryan: No. NASCAR shouldn’t penalize a driver for trying to win a race, particularly when a championship berth is on the line.
Dustin Long: Why start now? NASCAR has made it abundantly clear that if two cars are racing for the lead they’re not likely to get involved. NASCAR Chairman Brian France says this is a contact sport. So NASCAR is going to let there be contact.
What are the chances Chase Elliott makes it to the championship round in Miami?
Steve Letarte: Without a doubt, it’s going to be an uphill battle. I think when you look at Chase’s numbers throughout the playoffs, they’ve been outstanding. While Martinsville was chaotic, I think Texas will be chaotic as well. No telling what can happen at Phoenix..
Nate Ryan: He has to win at Texas or Phoenix. He still has a shot at doing the former.
Dustin Long: With Kyle Busch locked in and Martin Truex Jr. penciled in with his big points advantage, it likely leaves two spots. The question is can Chase Elliott win one of the next two races to earn a spot in Miami? I still need to be convinced about this team.
Should Joey Logano have pitted when he had a tire rub to ensure there was no caution since his teammate, Brad Keselowski, was leading in the final laps and close to earning a spot in the championship round?
Steve Letarte: I don’t think this falls on Joey Logano at all. The real question is should his crew chief, Todd Gordon, have called him into the pits unless it’s a safety situation, which then of course the driver should make the decision. Obviously, Joey Logano felt like it was safe to continue. Then it’s purely on Todd Gordon to pull him into the pits if looking at the bigger picture. To be honest, I think that’s a conversation these bigger companies need to have. It’s easy to throw stones at Todd Gordon now. Todd Gordon is hired to present the best case for the No. 22 car. He obviously felt that was to stay on the race track. Numbers would say it’s stay on the race track. Even if you spin out at Martinsville, normally you don’t make severe contact. It’s easy to say now that he absolutely should have pitted. Perhaps that’s a conversation that should have happened before now. What if a guy has an engine down a cylinder and your other car is leading? Should you just park that car so it doesn’t blow up and bring a yellow? I think that conversation is worth having at all the big teams.
Nate Ryan: Ultimately, the decision should rest with the team and driver on whether it’s worth the risk to continue (though NASCAR also could intervene). But given the playoff implications in this instance, Logano probably should have pitted and ensured his teammate gained passage to Miami.
Dustin Long: Yes. Someone in upper management should have made the call for Logano to pit. Both Brad Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe said after their Talladega win that Martinsville was a must-win situation for them based on how the other tracks likely would play out in this round. Joey Logano’s team might cost Keselowski and his team a chance at the championship and that is inexcusable.