‘Educated’ Denny Hamlin Found NASCAR’s Solution to Stop Drivers Duping on Restarts

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KANSAS CITY, KANSAS – SEPTEMBER 10: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 Acumatica Toyota, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on September 10, 2022 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin’s controversial restart tactics at Richmond Raceway have become a topic of hot debate among the NASCAR community. Most of the fanbase had shared their verdict about Hamlin’s dirty tactics and labeled him a cheat. Meanwhile, the driver himself has come out and shared his perspective on the incident. Stating he had no choice but to jump the restart given the pressure he was under by the #19 and #22 car.
NASCAR acknowledged that Hamlin made an early dash, but given the circumstances, they decided not to intervene late in the race. In the aftermath of the whole situation, Dale Earnhardt Jr was in conversation with Denny Hamlin and asked what could be a solution to restrain the drivers from jumping the restarts during races.
Drivers are getting smarter at trying to bend the rules to their advantage
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In the modern era of racing, all the drivers and teams are familiar with NASCAR’s rule book. This has allowed the drivers to get educated on the whole ruling structure and, over time, have identified the gray areas. So how can NASCAR keep a tab on the drivers from jumping the restarts? Here’s what Hamlin suggested.
“I think that we’ve just gotten so smart when it comes to drivers in understanding how to get good restarts and how to take advantage of the system. We’ve really got educated on that.” He went on to add, “I don’t know what they can do other than making the zone bigger because otherwise everyone’s just gonna continue to creep towards the leader as we approach the zone and the zone is so small.”
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Hamlin further explained that had he not adapted to the situation, he wouldn’t have been able to dictate the restart. “That’s what I was trying to do, throw those guys off and say, I know what your plan is, I can see it starting, and I ain’t gonna let you dictate this restart and so I was trying to go early in the zone, I was not trying to go before the zone.”
Despite the protest, NASCAR has now come out to defend its stance on the call. Stating they are confident they made the correct judgment in a split-second decision.
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Elton Swayer thinks it’s a bang-bang call at the end of the race
It is important to note that Denny Hamlin was only playing with what he was offered. Had it not been for the questionable caution for Kyle Busch’s crash, we wouldn’t be talking about the incident. Moreover, Hamlin’s pit crew handed him a boost in taking the lead position for the restart. Given the opportunity to win the race, the driver of the #11 car did push his luck, and in the end, his antics were deemed correct by the officials.
“We’re looking at all of our available resources, SMT data, and we’re looking at the replay monitor, and at the time, because you gotta make a split-second decision, it’s a bang-bang call at the end of the race. With the evidence and the information we had in front of us, we made the call that, at the time, was a correct call,” said NASCAR’s VP of Competition, Elton Swayer, via FOX.
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Given that the restart tactics are now in the open, it will be interesting to see NASCAR’s stand if other drivers follow in Hamlin’s footsteps.

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