INDIANAPOLIS — Tyler Reddick wasn’t sure whether he was dueling for the win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway or being harassed by a car under penalty.
Ross Chastain, who finished fifth, had missed Turn 1 at the overtime restart and sped through the breakout route. He returned to the track alongside Reddick, who was in the lead.
Reddick and Chastain then swapped the lead, but Reddick still wasn’t sure if he was racing Chastain for the win.
Reddick said his spotter told him he thought Chastain would be punished, but NASCAR hadn’t said anything yet.
“He will be punished is not good enough,” said Reddick. “I wasn’t sure if it was him or not.”
Reddick was concerned that if Chastain was penalized and they continued to fight, Austin would close Cindric and challenge Reddick for the win. If Reddick knew Chastain was getting punished, he’d let him go.
Reddick won and NASCAR penalized Chastain (and Austin Dillon) for gaining positions via the breakout route. Both Chastain and Dillon were given a 30 second penalty. As a result, Chastain dropped from second to 27th. Dillon was credited with 30th, the last car on the lead lap.
However, there is a bigger problem with this situation.
Driving too fast on the escape route can save a car time. An executive from another team told NBC Sports that the team was aware of the potential benefit.
The solution must be simple.
Place cones in the escape route forcing a driver to slow down and weave around them. That really makes it a disadvantage to go through that.
It’s what the NTT IndyCar Series does on street courses and should be a thing for next year’s Indy Road Course race—and any other road course event, including the Chicago Street Race, if there’s a place where a car is off course. can hit and time can win the field.
NASCAR was lucky this time that Chastain Reddick didn’t turn and spin. That would have been the second year in a row that a penalized car had the leader spinning.
Last year Chase Briscoe cut through the grass at Turn 1 and gained positions, which is a penalty. Seconds after NASCAR announced the penalty to Briscoe — but before the driver was informed — Briscoe spun Hamlin on that lap. Briscoe then had to serve a stop-and-go penalty for missing Turn 1, which allowed AJ Allmendinger to win.
On Sunday, Chastain was on the outside with three cars on the inside during the final restart as the field entered Turn 1, a sharp right-hand turn from the front section.
“I couldn’t go any farther to the right,” Chastain said.
“I turned around and realized we weren’t going to make it. I just decided to get out of the way and take the access lane.”
Chastain was next to Reddick for the lead and said: “The way I understand it is if you cut off (the corner) and don’t take the entry lane and come out again, you’re not gaining ground. I took the access road. If I misunderstood the rule… I hadn’t thought about it before Turn 1. I realized we can’t make Turn 1, I can’t turn in, I’m going to stand in the grass.”
Said Reddick of Chastain’s maneuver: “I didn’t look at Ross’ (data), but it seemed like he had pretty much decided this was the route he was going to go. NASCAR’s ruling is that if they don’t gain a huge advantage or whatever the term is, it’s acceptable, and he clearly took too much advantage and it cost him a really solid finish in the top 10.
“It’s kind of open to discussion, open to interpretation, anyway, so hopefully we’ll move forward, especially if we come back here with this track and how that chicane or the passage is designed we can make it where it’s a little bit slower to get to.” where it doesn’t matter if he hits it absolutely perfectly, it takes you at least two, three, four seconds to where this situation doesn’t happen again.