Drivers lined up three wide for restart in two races: Noah Gragson was penalized and Chase Elliott was not
Drivers are suppose to line up two by two for a NASCAR restart. The order is set by scoring and in most times, drivers just know where they’re suppose to be.
When there’s a disagreement, a driver will pull up alongside. That tells NASCAR to have a look and point drivers in the correct restart order.
Twice this weekend, Daytona International Speedway say the green flag drop while a row was three wide.
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Noah Gragson penalized
With 46 laps to go, Noah Gragson found himself in a three wide restart before the green flag. He was on the outside lane by himself. He should have restarted behind Jeffrey Earnhardt on the inside lane.
The green dropped anyway. “NASCAR rarely throws the green flag when the order was jumbled up like it was,” Michael Waltrip stated during the broadcast.
It didn’t work out for him at all. In the end, he lost more positions than he would have had he just started behind that row. Instead, he was the lone car in lane three with no drafting help. He fell to 11th.
JR Motorsports argued their points to the NASCAR officials. Gragson would have to serve the penalty.
NASCAR reaction: Pass through penalty.
With 42 to go, Gragson hit pit lane from the 7th position. He served his pass through penalty under the green.
41 to go, Ray Black Jr went around on the back stretch. He brought out a much needed caution for Gragson. That allowed him to stay on the lead lap instead of being run down by the pack.
Gragson finished his first race with JR Motorsports in the 11th position.
NASCAR Cup Series
Chase Elliott was not penalized
As Noah Gragson pointed out, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series saw a similar scenario in Sunday’s event.
With 33 laps to go, Chase Elliott found himself in the same spot that Noah Gragson was a day prior. He was on the outside of Aric Almirola and Paul Menard in row 5, coming to the green.
Jeff Gordon: “Listen, this is going to be a penalty to somebody. I saw the Xfinity race yesterday. I don’t know who they’re going to give it to.”
As the green dropped, Chase Elliott dropped anchor. Just like Gragson, he was in a lane of his own with no help. Before the exit of turn two, Elliott fell outside the top 20.
NASCAR reaction: No call.
Chase Elliott was involved in several on track incidents following this restart. He kept it running for as long as possible and finished in 17th.
NASCAR comments on three wide restarts
What makes those two situations different? NASCAR explains…
“We do our best to never have to start three wide. But, we also wanna not waste caution laps. Cause we get blown up when that happens as well,” NASCAR Executive Vice-President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell stated to ‘The Morning Drive’ via Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
“On Saturday, we repeatedly asked the driver. We asked him a bunch of times. He had an opportunity to get in position and chose not to do so.”
“Sunday was different, the car got forced out there. That position where he was suppose to be was occupied.”
“That happened coming out of four. We didn’t have time to react and didn’t want to blow an extra caution lap.”