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.