Denny Hamlin provided his opinion on Ross Chastain’s last race move that saw him fly down the access road in order to avoid the carnage in turn 1 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course.
On the final restart of the race during NASCAR Overtime, Ross Chastain restarted fourth and in the outside lane. While the pack approached the sharp right turn 1, instead of actually making the right turn, Chastain continued straight down the access road.
When he reentered the track, he was able to grab the lead from eventual race winner Tyler Reddick for a short time.
NASCAR would rule that Chastain’s move was illegal with NASCAR’s VP of officiating and technical inspection Elton Sawyer explaining, “Really good communication between Brad Moran and the garage and the drivers and the teams on what we expected as far as track limits. And that was communicated very well. It states right in there that if you cut off a significant amount of the race course then there will be a penalty.”
“And if it’s at the end of the race then it will be 30 seconds,” he continued. “So all of those bullet points, if you will, were well communicated to the industry, to the garage, to the drivers.”
Specifically addressing Chastain, Sawyer said, “So what happened at the end there, obviously, the restart and they go off in to turn 1, they get 4, 5-wide, and Ross — you can go back and look through the optics of it, but you can also look at the data that supports — he really accelerated. He didn’t decel. He accelerated to go through the runoff area there.”
“And again, we’ve explained it and felt like we explained it very well on what you can and can’t do and what you can expect from the track limits,” he continued. “There’s a place over off of turn 12 where the motorcycle horse is where you can do a stop and go.”
“So, again if there’s not enough time to apply those penalties during the event then when we replay it and look back at it, it becomes a 30 second penalty,” he asserted.
He further explained, “You can’t cut a significant amount of the course off and gain an advantage. When Ross came back out he’s side by side with the leader. And they went off into the corner and he’s fifth. Simply put you can’t do that. That area is there for the reason that if you get into a bad spot and you can’t make the turn — you’ve had a brake failure, you’ve got in there too hot for whatever reason — you can run off there.”
“But that’s not to be used to gain an advantage,” he concluded.
💭 “You can’t cut a significant amount of the course off and gain an advantage.”#NASCAR‘s Elton Sawyer joined #TMDNASCAR to explain the decision-making process of penalizing @RossChastain in the final OT restart at @IMS on Sunday.@TeamTrackhouse | @NASCAR pic.twitter.com/URtPTdxjXn
— SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) (@SiriusXMNASCAR) August 2, 2022
Chastain explained his decision to use the access road following the conclusion of the race saying, “Just trying not to be in the carnage there in turn 1. I thought we were four-wide, and couldn’t go any further right and decided to take the NASCAR access lane out there.”
When asked if that was something he and his team had previously discussed, Chastain responded, “No, Dave. No. Just pure reaction there. for our Worldwide Express Chevy. I had took it in practice on — just like overshooting turn 1 and you know where they’re at right in 12, you have to go around the loop there and there is around the poles so went to not get hit and merge back on where I merged.”
Hamlin reacted to Chastain’s move during an appearance on Door Bumper Clear show.
He first said, “Spot on, I’m glad he did it before I did. I was thinking about it. I had a really good braking point into the access road. I really did. I did.”
Hamlin continued, “I noticed in practice, even when I really slowed way down and then said, ‘Ah screw it, I gotta go to the access road,’ I’m looking like I’m right back where I came out. If I really just committed to blowing this and having a braking point then I think there’s a game to be had here.”
Commenting on Chastain’s move, Hamlin said, “I think he committed pretty early that if I see any slowing down on the corner I’m just going. I don’t think he even tried to turn down in it.”
What do you make of Hamlin’s reaction to Chastain’s move?