Slow down under yellow or serve penalty

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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.

Ed from Johnson City, Tenn.: After Saturday's Las Vegas Busch race, is there anything that you would do any differently to lock down the field? Should NASCAR review how they "lock the field"? Larry McReynolds: NASCAR is working on its racing back to the yellow rule, and the sanctioning body has to come up with a solid way to take a "snapshot" of the field the second that yellow flag waves. We have the scoring monitor, but it's only scored at the start/finish line. If you've got four cars racing each other, they may change three positions each from the start/finish line to the middle of the backstretch. The free pass, or as we're starting to call it the pardon from the Oval Office, was designed to put a car back on the lead lap to get track position, not gain positions. Once they got the issue resolved during the Busch race, they moved from 16th to about sixth or seventh by putting him back on the lead lap. That was deceiving because we were looking at the scoring monitor after all the pit stops and everything else. When the caution came out, LaJoie was on the race track racing in about sixth or seventh position, one lap behind the leader. So the whole key is freezing the field immediately when the caution comes out, regardless of where the car is. NASCAR will not tolerate cars slowing down under caution. Nextel Cup Series Director John Darby told me that during the -Matt Kenseth-Jamie McMurray issue at Rockingham, McMurray did not slow down when the caution came out. When he crossed the start-finish line with the caution waving, his next lap was only one second slower than the lap before so he really didn't slow down that much.
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McMurray was doing what he thought he should do. The two guys he was racing were sitting on pit road under green and changing tires when the caution flag waved. McMurray thought he could trap Kahne and Kenseth on pit road, but NASCAR said it is not deviating from the intent of the rule which is not racing back to the caution. We had our wakeup call at Loudon, N.H. last September with sitting sideways on the frontstretch and half the field coming at him so we've got to learn how to make it work. If drivers can't slow down to a resaonable speed when that caution is displayed. Darby said he'll bring a driver to pit road and chat with him for a while. It may be one lap. It may be five laps. They may decide to chat with the driver until the end of the race -- whatever it takes to get out the message. When the caution comes out, you slow down. You don't race, and you don't pass.

FOX race analyst Larry McReynolds has more than 25 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, crew chief and broadcaster. He and his fellow Crew Chief Club members take you behind the wall at www.crewchiefclub.com.

"Larry McReynolds: The Big Picture" is on bookstore shelves now, or you may order your own autographed copy from www.DWStore.com.

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