The hammer is coming down in NASCAR as Elton Sawyer, the sports VP of Competition, has spoken out about a run of recent issues on restarts during a race.
His warning goes to all drivers across all three series (Cup, Xfinity, and Trucks), making sure to let the drivers know that this is a serious problem that needs addressing across all competitions.
Sawyer made an appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR radio earlier this week and wasn't too thrilled with an incident that occurred late in last Saturday's Xfinity Series race at New Hampshire.
The incident he was referring to occurred during a restart on lap 71. The crash that occurred hurt cars like Justin Allgaier and Parker Kligerman, who were further back in the field after it got stacked up by front-row leaders John Hunter Nemechek, who went on to win the race, and Chandler Smith.
WHAT. JUST. HAPPENED?!
A HUGE WRECK on the restart! #NASCAR
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) July 15, 2023
Elton Sawyer Explains NASCAR's Restart Issues
Sawyer believes tracks like New Hampshire that have long front straightaways may have played a role in the crash, but with NASCAR heading to Pocono Raceway this weekend, that could be an issue that once again arises.
Sawyer addressed the role straightaways at tracks like New Hampshire and Pocono play, making it difficult for some of the drivers further back to see what is ahead of them, especially if some of the cars lay back, and stack up the field.
"If you think about that, there are two long lines the front row has established," Sawyer said. " So, if you're the second row, third row, fourth row, you're looking through the windshield of your car and through the back glass and windshield of the car in front of you. Therefore, there is a lot going on just with that dynamic."
He then went on to talk about how it wasn't just issues on restarts in the Xfinity that raise some concern, as he also pointed out that some of the restarts in the Cup series were a little problematic.
"I will preface this with I don't think either race- the Cup race or Xfinity- that our guys did a very good job on restarts. We'll start there. As we unfolded and looked through the SMT data and just the optics, it felt like it happened maybe in the second or third row where cars were laying back." Sawyer said.
"So, as we head to Pocono this weekend, there will be very stern communication to our drivers across all three series, that laying back is not going to be acceptable, as we head into the final stages of our regular season and into the playoffs."
If a driver gets called for a restart violation, it typically ends with a driver being black-flagged and having to make a pass-through penalty on pit road. But in this situation, Sawyer firmly believes that once they make the communication NASCAR will be watching drivers who are laying back more closely during restarts, it will change what drivers have been doing.
"Our guys have done a great job this year with that," Sawyer said. " It just feels like it's starting to get a little sloppy, so we need to get that cleaned up before we head into the playoffs."
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