NASCAR Official Suggests Hamlin's Winning Restart Call Was Situational (Updated)

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NASCAR: Hamlin Jumped Restart Call Was SituationalJonathan Bachman - Getty Images

Denny Hamlin took control of the NASCAR race at Richmond this past Sunday with a perfectly executed pit stop before overtime. That put him in position to lead a restart over his race-dominating teammate, but Hamlin seemingly started going before the restart zone. To viewers, that move seemed to be deserving of a race-losing penalty, but instead, NASCAR's Senior Vice President of Competition Elton Sawyer said post-race that officials called the restart fair after a review. Sawyer went on Sirius XM on Tuesday to discuss the non-call, and in an interesting exchange, seemingly explained that NASCAR decided on a no-call even though the review indicated a jumped start.

Updated, April 3rd 2024: A NASCAR spokesperson clarified to Road & Track that Sawyer did not mean to suggest the restart would be officiated differently at any other point in the race. The series simply has more time to review a potential jumped restart and make a decision from a larger pool of data earlier in a race, but a less marginal call would still have been made immediately by officials following the restart live. The original story about Sawyer's comments from April 2nd is below.

Sawyer says that "there's no doubt [Hamlin] rolled early," but adds that "it's a bang-bang call. It's the end of the race, we're a live sporting event, and we don't have the luxury of a time out to review it and make that call. If that happens at lap 10, or 50, or 300, the call could have been different."