NASCAR explains decisions

Posted: Thursday, April 03, 2003

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- NASCAR admitted it made a mistake Sunday during the Winston Cup Series race in al lowing Kurt Busch and Ricky Rudd to get their lap back just before a caution period.

At the same time, the sanc tioning body stood by its de cision to black-flag Brian Vick ers in Saturday's Busch Series race.

Vickers was the race leader Saturday during a restart with 13 laps to go. There were five cars ahead of him on the tail-end of the lead lap during the restart, and one of them, a Dodge driven by Chad Blount, spun his rear tires and didn't come up to speed. Vickers veered to the left of Blount to avoid hitting him, and NASCAR determined that constituted an illegal pass.

Vickers clearly had two options: move left to avoid a collision or run over Blount. He chose to avoid a crash.

NASCAR rules prohibit passing on the left during a restart. Vickers right-front tire was even with Blount's left-rear as they passed the finish line during the restart. Vickers was black-flagged for a stop-and-go penalty.

NASCAR got into more trouble during Sunday's race when race leader Matt Kenseth slowed down during a caution period to allow Busch, his Roush Racing teammate, and Rudd, whose team uses engines from Roush, to get their laps back.

Since they hadn't crossed the finish line to officially start the caution period, Jeff Gordon passed Kenseth to keep him from letting Busch and Rudd back on the lead lap. NASCAR then ordered Gordon back to

sec ond place, which allowed the two drivers to get their laps back.

Drivers have a ''gentleman's agreement'' not to race back to the line during a caution period since most cautions are caused by a crash. Gordon said that ''gentleman's agreement'' does not include letting people get a lap back and get into contention to win the race.

On Tuesday, NASCAR said it was wrong.

PIT STOPS: John Andretti and Robby Gordon are running out of time to put together a deal that would allow them to race in this year's Indianapolis 500. Both hoped to race 500 miles at Indianapolis on May 25, then jet to Concord, N.C, for the 600-mile Coca-Cola 600 at the Lowe's Motor Speedway. Neither have a ride at Indy, and, more im portant, neither have been able to secure sponsorship.

Reach Don Coble at

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