NASCAR made correct call in Daytona Xfinity finish

All anyone should ask of NASCAR officials is to enforce the rules fairly and consistently.

When it came to the finish of Friday night’s Xfinity Series race, that’s exactly what they did.

Justin Haley made a thrilling, sensational move to swoop down below Kyle Larson and Elliott Sadler while coming to the finish line, seeming to snatch the win from two experienced drivers. And it certainly seemed like Haley deserved the victory for his efforts at first glance.

Unfortunately, Haley violated one of NASCAR’s longstanding no-nos: He crossed below the double yellow line while making the move. And no matter the circumstances, that is not a legal way to pass.

In a TV interview, Haley noted he had room to make the move and questioned why NASCAR penalized him. But officials can’t be making judgment calls like that, or it would open the door to far more questions and sticky situations than ones like this.

If someone passes below the double yellow line, it’s out of bounds. Period.

Sadler said he was relieved to see NASCAR enforce the rule, “because if not, you’re going to see people take advantage of it.” And that would mean Cup drivers immediately taking risks they shouldn’t at an already dangerous track.

Look, most people watching would have loved to see Haley’s move pay off in a win. It was courageous and ballsy and would have made for an incredible highlight. I’m betting NASCAR wanted to see it happen, too.

But that’s not how sports should be officiated. He was below the line before he completed the pass, so it’s a black and white call — or in this case, a yellow and black call.

You can say you hate the rule, but it’s still the rule. There’s no “swallowing the whistle,” there’s no judgment call.

NASCAR clearly defines the rule, and officiated it exactly in line with its previous yellow line calls.

Be mad at the outcome, but they got this one right.


30 Replies to “NASCAR made correct call in Daytona Xfinity finish”

  1. I thought you couldn’t advance your position below the yellow line. Wasn’t he barely in the lead at the point his left tires dipped below? So he didn’t advance his position below the line.

    1. What about that was 15 years ago? The rules and the way NASCAR interprets that have changed many times from then

  2. Agreed.

    Jeff Burton made a good commentary at the end of the TV broadcast about why the rule exists, which I think is something that NASCAR could do well to have repeated more often. I didn’t know the background on it, and I bet others don’t either.

  3. Yep!! Rules are rules and this is the rule no matter what!! But still makes for a great race and reels new people in for NASCAR!!

  4. So, just curious, what will you do for work once NASCAR finally succeeds in driving the last fan away?

    1. LOL, it don’t take “fans” to have THIS sport. It only takes complainers, bitchers and whiners. So NASCAR is gonna be around for a LONG time. Thanks for your hilarious observation, Dave! Made my day.

  5. I was questioning the move as they crossed the line. Yes everyone would have loved to see the 24 get the win. A hard lesson for Haley to learn, but the rule was enforced correctly.

  6. A trip through the videos from the last 2 decades shows that this rule is not enforced constantly. There was the pass going into 3 at Daytona when Jr had both left side tires of the 8 below the line and nothing. Go back to that night when Jack Sprague won the Daytona truck race and see where Johnny Benson is running at the line. Hint: more over than Haley was tonight. Yes there’s examples of people being hammered, think Regan at Dega, but there’s also examples of when it wasn’t enforced. Lack of absolute constancy over the years is hurting this sport.

    1. It wasn’t a rule 2 decades ago. It was instituted after a rash of accidents of cars losing control coming back on to the racing surface from the apron. I believe it was around 2008? So if any of your pieces of ‘evidence’ are prior to 2007/2008 – the rule didn’t exist.

      1. It’s closer to 2 decades than you think. The rule was introduced in the July Daytona race in 2001.

  7. My tweet to Jeff:
    I started yelling no as soon as I saw it. Then he even admitted he could have come up during his interview It was as bad as the time I got caught speeding. I went to court and said I was guilty but I was not guilty of what I was charged with. Needless to say I paid ???? the price ????

  8. Don’t you just hate it when rules are enforced? Geez people, give a rest. It was plain as day he went below the yellow line. I seen it, tv guys seen it, and most of all, NASCAR officials seen it!!!

    1. It’s clear you haven’t read the rule. There is no penalty for being under the yellow line. It’s a matter of what NASCAR believes “improving position” to mean. And it never has actually put it down on paper.

  9. I think they made the right call, but I also think if he would have nosed ahead before going under the yellow line they would have ruled it in Justin Haley’s favor.

  10. When it was happening I knew it’s as not a legal pass. I remember the rule being made.

  11. I think the biggest issue with this call today was the fact it exposed once again what a terror this rule is. NASCAR has complete discretion here and could change the definition of “improving position” tomorrow without even changing the rulebook. Clearly the fans have already found a definition that completely fits what the rulebook says, even if NASCAR doesn’t agree. It’s a black and white call only if you’re using the same definition, and there is no set definition.

  12. Helton stated. “To be clear, as we go forward, there will be no passing under the yellow line at any time during NASCAR races at Daytona or Talladega, period. This includes any passing below the yellow line near the start/finish line on the final lap.” If you’re already in the lead, how was he passing? What’s the definition of a completed pass? Haley won it. You’d think Nascar would want to keep fans to boost the price of their entity before selling, but I guess not.

  13. If they intended the rule to mean no passing they would have said that instead of not improving your position. Therefore improving your position must mean something more. That is if I am a bumper ahead and go below the line and extend my lead that violates the rule. Debate the rule and even change it if you want but they called it by the book.

  14. NASCAR made the correct call. Now will they fine him for criticizing their call? They certainly have with one other driver.

  15. It appeared to me that Haley could have stayed withing the yellow lines and still made the pass.
    The rule was instituted and modified along the way.
    Since the time that Keselowski held his ground against Edwards, it has been pretty much the same.
    Giving back a position is almost impossible – it is usually several positions but it gets rid of the penalty.

  16. Drivers have to know better and know that rule (see Regan Smith) don’t go below the yellow line no matter what and if you cause a big wreck then so be it.. Sadly, Haley had plenty of room, he didn’t have to go under that yellow line to begin with. Hard lesson for him and I am bummed he didn’t win..

  17. Yes, NASCAR applied their rule correctly, and once the fans start going to races to watch a rule book, I’m sure we’ll all agree. For the moment, though, NASCAR complains about falling attendance and fleeing fans at the same time they do everything they can to make the races as boring as possible. Something exciting happened for once, so of course there has to be a dumb rule to erase it.

    So I guess the bigwigs in Charlotte will at least feel pride over how effectively they applied their rule book when the last fan turns off the TV.

  18. I was always a big Dale Jr. fan. But I always felt he should have been penalized at Talladega in ’03. Out of bounds is out of bounds.

  19. Here’s my 2 issues, which still haven’t been addressed by anyone.

    When he moved farther over the line, two things were at play.

    1- He didn’t improve his position, he already had the lead. So in that case, no position improvement.
    2 – He moves that way in reaction to Sadler’s call flopping around as Sadler and Larson made contact. It would be avoiding a wreck. Which is ALSO allowable to move under the line.

    Could he have held his line? We know he could AFTER Sadler and Larson didn’t start wrecking. But if Sadler DID start spinning due to the clear and repeat contact with Larson, Haley would have won because he was avoiding it.

    IMO, once Larson and Sadler started banging on each other, all bets payable on the line were off.

  20. Rules are just words written down. Only the interpretation made by individuals gives rules any teeth. This call was quintessential NASCAR. They made a call that has been inconsistently been applied for years, then come up with a bastardized theory to get around the “improve your position” language.

    Same old same old from the boys in Daytona. This is NASCAR’S sandbox…if you don’t like it leave. By the looks of the stands and ratings,any have…just like me.

    NASCAR lost me with the arbitrary suspension of Kenseth. Since then I have zero interest
    In defending the kangaroo court that runs NASCAR.

  21. I replayed the pass several times and he was slightly in the lead before he went over the line. Therefore, if he was already ahead, he could not advance his position and should not have been disqualified. Having an insurance background, the rule book would be a contract of adhesion where only NASCAR wrote it and the drivers have no input. When there is questionable language in a contract, courts have always ruled in favor of the party that had no control of what the contract says, I think the driver would win in a court of law.

  22. All due respect Jeff. Where does the rule book state what a completed pass is, how much passed to complete etc etc.
    A car in the lead is a car in the lead, no matter how miniscule the lead.
    Why has Nascar been allowed to go with that question unanswered ? He was in the lead of the race,as shown in the race lead stats, and yet the old “completed pass double talk” Wrong in so many ways.
    And now…..what a “Completed pass” ?? Go luck with that

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