Denny Hamlin finished in the top three at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday night, and he employed a controversial strategy en route to his third place finish.
Hamlin purposefully slowed down on pit road so he could be in a preferred lane on the next restart.
“We caught them a little bit in that last run, but I restarted on the bottom so many times that it’s one of those weekends where I would love that cone rule where you can pick what lane you want to go in on restarts,” Hamlin said via AutoWeek. “I’d be willing to start 12th on the outside versus third on the inside. It’s just I got killed on restarts all day, but we did a really good job of bouncing back and good finish.”
NASCAR officials are considering implementing a “cone rule” that would keep drivers like Hamlin from using that strategy on a restart according to ESPN’s Bob Pockrass.
“The cone rule allows drivers to pick which lane they restart in, even if that means losing positions on the track prior to the restart,” Pockrass said.
In the past, spotters have worked with drivers on pit road to ensure they get their preferred lane on a restart. Short tracks such as Martinsville have a one-groove surface, which means drivers in the outside lane on a restart are at a disadvantage.
The choose cone rule would mean that once drivers leave pit road for a restart, they return to the field single-file behind the pace car or cars who didn’t pit. Drivers then choose the top or bottom when they cross the start-finish line.
The rule would likely help on short tracks, and it would prevent drivers from using strategies such as Hamlin to manipulate where they start on a restart.
It’s unclear when NASCAR would implement the rule, but it could happen before next season.
What do you think?