Ryan Blaney wasn’t penalized for going below the yellow line on the final lap at Talladega as NASCAR officials deemed he was forced there.
Coming through the tri-oval on the final lap, Blaney got to the inside of Ryan Newman. As the two charged toward the finish line, the two touched and Blaney had his left-side tires go below the yellow line. The finish was reviewed before NASCAR officially called the No. 12 Team Penske team to victory lane.
Asked for clarification following the race, a NASCAR spokesman explained it was a racing incident (i.e. being forced) that caused Blaney to go below the yellow line. Tuesday morning, Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, further explained the sanctioning body’s position considering Johnny Sauter was penalized for violating the yellow line rule in Saturday’s Truck Series race.
“First of all, one guy won the race or appeared to have won the race by making that move, and the other didn’t,” said Miller. “When you’re talking about Johnny’s situation, he drove all four of his wheels under the yellow line to force the other competitor (Riley Herbst) down there, so it was obviously a lot more blatant in our opinion than what transpired on (Monday).
“Blaney was down there, Ryan (Newman) wasn’t down there, but certainly in our opinion drove him down there. We reserve the right to call a car that forces another down below the yellow line. We can kind of use our judgment to assess the situation.”
In the driver/crew chief meeting before the superspeedway races the pre-race instruction video explains that if, in NASCAR’s judgment, a driver goes below the yellow line to improve their position they will be black flagged. This rule bit Justin Haley in the Xfinity Series race last year in Daytona.
The video also states that if in NASCAR’s judgment a driver forces another competitor below the line, then that driver may be black flagged. Sauter was called for forcing Herbst below the line as well as going below the line himself.
NASCAR did not penalize Newman, who finished second by 0.007 seconds.
“No two ones of those situations are the same,” said Miller. “There’s some subjectivity in it, which isn’t the greatest thing for us but I think we’re very happy with the calls that we made and feel like both of them were right.
“But as far as the elephant in the room, those two incidents were very, very different from one another in our opinion.”