Hendrick wants NASCAR consistency on restarts
Rick Hendrick blames NASCAR’s inconsistent policing of restarts
for Jimmie Johnson’s recent issues.
Johnson has lost two races in the last month in part because of
problems on late restarts. The five-time NASCAR champion was
penalized for jumping the start with Juan Pablo Montoya at Dover
and complained last week that Matt Kenseth was laying back on a
late restart at Kentucky.
”I don’t care how good you are, you can get snookered,”
Hendrick said before Saturday night’s race at Daytona International
”That’s the one part of this thing that NASCAR doesn’t control,
and I don’t think it’s in (Johnson’s) head. I think he’s been
bitten a couple of times, so he’s had to be more conservative
because he can’t count on NASCAR to do it the same way every
Johnson said at Daytona he needs to loosen up and stop taking
the restart rule so literal.
”I feel like I’m maybe a little focused on the way the rule
reads exactly and paying maybe too close of attention to that,”
”There are a lot of restarts, especially during the Kentucky
race, that I brought down that I feel like a good citizen, a good
student in doing exactly what I’m supposed to. There are other
times when I don’t feel that exactly happens and that it’s not
called or viewed from the tower as kind of the (way the) rule
reads. At the end of the day, I’m just going to lighten up on how I
think about it and use that zone and that area regardless of the
way the rule reads to get an advantage and worry about
But Hendrick said he’s spoken to NASCAR officials about being
more precise in policing restarts – to no avail. Hendrick would
like to see NASCAR rely on technology to monitor the starts because
it’s more reliable than series officials determining what’s legal
or illegal from watching in a suite above the track.
”You’ve got guys who lay back and accordion the field, have
everybody running into each other,” Hendrick said. ”Go back to
Dover and Juan jumps and OK, so now Jimmie is gun shy. Then the
next time, you want to be careful, and they start jerking you
around. Somebody gets you spinning the tires, or someone gets
inside of you.
”To me, they ought to be able, with telemetry, set it like pit
road. You’ve got to maintain your speed, they throw the green,
instead of this (driver) on the gas, off the gas, making guys
behind them slow down and then the (leader) takes off. I think
we’ve been able to control everything else, why can’t we control
NASCAR can access computer data from the race cars after an
event to see if drivers started and stopped on a restart, or if a
driver slowed prior to the restart.
Hendrick wants to see something in real time – and before the
Chase for the Sprint Cup championship begins in September.
”It’s almost like when we used to not have pit road timing
lines and you’d argue this other guy passed me and NASCAR would be
sitting upstairs using a stopwatch to decide who is right,”
Hendrick said. ”This is the same deal. (NASCAR) is sitting at an
angle watching the commitment lines – why can’t we make it more
mechanical? All the cars come around together at the same pace, the
timing lines are there, and if somebody jumps the start, throw the
caution and redo it.
”What are they going to do when they get to a points battle and
somebody gets away with something there? Is that the right way to
end the championship? I don’t think so.”