Dale Earnhardt Jr. is angry about NASCAR's reluctance to take blame after he was outwitted by Denny Hamlin


Did NASCAR lose its edge over drivers and teams after last weekend in Richmond? After Vice President of Competition Elton Sawyer pointed out that Denny Hamlin actually had a head start, veterans and drivers had grave concerns about the continuity of such penalties in the future. But perhaps most confused is Dale Earnhardt Jr., who believes NASCAR needs to tread carefully.

In perhaps the most influential voice in sports: If Junior has a problem with something, isn't it in NASCAR's best interest to take it seriously? After all, it's not every day that someone as calm and collected as the owner of JR Motorsports has to tackle something so intensely.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. steps up his rant against NASCAR officials


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This past weekend, NASCAR hit the controversial iceberg again when fans pointed out Hamlin's lead over Truex Jr. When the No. 11 JGR driver revealed that his focus was on the No. 19 and No. 5 instead of the starting line, many pointed out a failure in NASCAR's enforcement of the zone's allowable area.

With drivers like Joey Logano already holding NASCAR accountable and demanding consistency, officials' silence about Hamlin's early start left the balance of power hanging by a thread. In the latest episode of Dale Jr Download, the veteran revealed all of his grievances with the weekend's decision-making. He explained, “We used to paint lines on the walls, and exactly where the zone started and ended was a matter of debate. But when they painted the lines on the track, it indicated a defined area.”

For Dale Earnhardt Jr., the lines painted on the track itself, combined with the wording of the rule book, offered no excuses for drivers and teams. This led the veteran to come to a conclusion: “When you put that together with the wording of the NASCAR rulebook, you have a clear definition of a good or bad restart, and Sunday was a bad restart.“It was an absolute no-go for Junior to step on the accelerator before the restart line. But that was not all.

After Elton Sawyer revealed Hamlin's jump start, officials also gave reasons why the No. 11, who didn't fit well with Junior, wasn't penalized. The vice president felt the sport would have made a different decision if the incident had occurred earlier in the race rather than at the crucial moment. Still, that statement didn't answer all of the community's questions, prompting Dale Earnhardt Jr. to express his anger even more.

He shared, “Look, man, going forward we need clear messaging from NASCAR, and that’s not helpful, is it? This muddies the water even more.” For Junior, the focus was on clarifying misunderstandings. He concluded, “They have to come out and say, ‘We didn’t get that right.’ He left early. We looked at it, we think he left too soon, we missed the call. The results remain. But this is a bad reboot. This will get you a black flag.'….Or whatever they want to do. You have to react. You can’t just leave it like that.”

While it's safe to say that Dale Earnhardt Jr. made his disapproval of NASCAR's decisions at Richmond pretty clear, the veteran also pointed out some solutions that could be implemented to avoid this altogether.

Earnhardt Jr.'s solution to the NASCAR restart zone dilemma lies in technology

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It's not just motorsports that faces the dilemma of enforcing competition rules that are decided by a line or brand. So if sports like football can develop goal-line technology to eliminate the human factor in penalty decisions, why can't NASCAR do something similar? That's exactly the question Dale Earnhardt Jr. is asking.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. continues his tirade against NASCAR's decision not to penalize Hamlin's jump start and believes the sport needs to make better use of modern technology. The veteran explained: “Look, we have all this technology in the pit lane that, without a human, can determine someone committing an infraction or a penalty in the pit lane. We have all this technology, if we have the shit for this restart zone, this technology should have been here already.”


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Regarding the pit road commitment line, Dale Earnhardt Jr. felt that NASCAR needed to extend that ruling to the restarts as well. If a driver misses the pit entry line by even an inch, they will usually be reprimanded for a dangerous pit entry or exit. Junior believes this should also be the case for restart zones in the future.

Finally, he shared his frustration, If you cut it (pit commitment line), they'll get your ass! So if there's going to be this line on the racetrack, I look at it as a defined area. This is not a suggestion, this is a rule. So just come out and say, “The rule is that you stay within the zone.” Let's not come after you.'“


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After taking a look at Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s frustration with NASCAR officials over their restart zone decisions, do you think the sport is headed for some tension with drivers and teams in the future?