NBC Sports analysts Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Dale Jarrett say that NASCAR should do away with the yellow line rule after the finish of Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway was impacted by it.
NASCAR said it will not change the rule. The rule serves as an out-of-bounds mark on the inside portion of the 2.66-mile speedway. The rule is in place only at Talladega and Daytona.
Denny Hamlin won after going below the yellow line and on to the apron on the final corner of the last lap. NASCAR ruled Hamlin went down there to avoid a wreck and was not guilty of an infraction. NASCAR ruled that Matt DiBenedetto forced William Byron below the yellow line on the last lap. DiBenedetto, who crossed the finish line second, was penalized and dropped to 21st in the finishing order.
NASCAR penalized Chase Elliott for passing below the yellow line on the last lap but rescinded that after the race, giving Elliott his fifth-place finish back. Instead, NASCAR penalized Chris Buescher for forcing Elliott below the yellow line. Buescher crossed the line sixth but was dropped to 22nd, the last car on the lead lap, with the penalty.
“I got a great idea for everybody,” Earnhardt said on the NBCSN post-race show. “How about we just get rid of the yellow line rule? Nobody really wants to see the races come down to these types of decisions. I don’t think it’s going to crash more cars than we crashed today.
“It’s kind of frustrating to have to make the decisions. I know NASCAR doesn’t want to be put in this position, so let’s just get rid of it from here on out. Just let these guys race it out, at least in the last few laps. They’re going down there below the yellow line anyways. It takes everybody sort of out of the position of having to make these types of calls because it’s not fun.
“Definitely kind of agree with the decision they made per the rule and how it’s written, but we could just get rid of it altogether. It would be great with me.”
Jarrett said on NBCSN’s post-race show: “Let me just say there are two Dales, I’m going to put my name in there with Dale Jr. saying let’s get rid of this yellow line where NASCAR doesn’t have to be what we would call put in this position.
“I’m not saying Denny shouldn’t have won the race there or what Matt DiBenedetto was doing and the contact that was created on the last lap, I don’t think he deserves to finish 21st. … Let’s get rid of that (rule) where you’re not put in that position.”
Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said officials will not change the rule.
“I mean, outside of putting a wall there, I don’t really know what more we can do,” he said. “I do sincerely believe we need the rule. You see all the real estate that’s around here. If we started having cars running 12 wide down the back straightaway, imagine what would happen when you get to Turn 3.
“I think it’s important that we continue to have a rule. You get out there in the heat of battle, things happen. It’s hard when there’s all that real estate down there, but you just can’t do it. I don’t think that we can eliminate it. I think it would be a mess. We kind of are where we are.”
Some drivers agreed with Miller after the race.
Winner Denny Hamlin
“Absolutely (agrees with the rule). I’ve been a victim of getting forced down there all the time. Finally they put their foot down and said, ‘This is the rule, we’re going to enforce it.’
“You can’t as a leader, wherever you are, use the yellow line as a defense. You have to play within the boundaries that they set. … They set the precedence early (in the race) so you know you weren’t going to get away with it. It’s part of it. I wouldn’t say I would have done anything different if I was Matt. I don’t know. I’m not a huge blocking guy. I don’t always think you have to block to win.”
Runner-up Erik Jones
“I think you’d probably see more wrecks without (the yellow line rule), guys being able to dive down there, trying to make big moves. You’d probably see more accidents than what we have now.
“I don’t honestly know what to do to make it better. I know it’s unfortunate when it comes down to the end of the race, it becomes a judgment call. … It is unfortunate when you have to make those calls, put people out of the race for something like that. But I honestly don’t know what I would change if I was in that position to make it any better.”
Third-place finisher Ty Dillon
“The rule doesn’t need to be changed. It’s a product of what’s going on right now. These cars are a bit easier to drive, stuck to the ground harder. The runs are happening twice as fast as they ever have.
“Guys going below the yellow line, you got guys going for a win, guys not trying to wreck. … We know the rules before we get here. I think if you were to open it up and take the yellow line away, you’re going to have guys blocking all the way down to the grass, have twice as big of wrecks.
“I don’t think we want to open up that can the worms. We have plenty of racetrack we can go four‑ or five‑wide on. It’s a product of what we do. I don’t see anybody at any fault for any reason. I don’t think anybody tried to bend the rules to get an advantage. I think it’s just a product of what happens here.”