Smith penalised for last lap pass

After crossing the finish line in first place, Regan Smith was penalised with a pass-through by NASCAR for overtaking Tony Stewart while driving below the yellow line on the last lap at Talladega

Smith penalised for last lap pass

Smith appeared to have scored his maiden Sprint Cup win but just seconds later NASCAR officials disallowed his overtaking move as they deemed he gained the position by driving below the yellow line at the bottom of the track.

The DEI rookie was pushed down the order in the final results of the race to 18th place after being assessed the penalty, one that he clearly disagreed with as he believes he was forced by Stewart's blocking to drive below the yellow line.

"My judgment and NASCAR's are totally different," Smith said. "We just watched the tape and we can argue about it for five years. They're not going to change their decision. That's how NASCAR works. I totally disagree with them 110 percent.

"They showed the tape to us. We all sat there and watched it together. In the drivers' meeting they tell us each week if you're forced below the yellow line you can go there. I clearly moved to the outside, moved back to the inside.

"Tony made a move to the high side and made a move to the bottom side. My nose was in there. The only option I had was to wreck him. The only other option I had was to wreck him. They told me 'Oh you could have got out of the gas.'"

NASCAR's Jim Hunter said Smith could have been awarded second place if he had not overtaken Stewart. He stated drivers were strictly warned about gaining a position by driving below the line.

"You cannot improve your position anytime you go below the yellow line," Hunter said. "In our judgment, he (Regan Smith) improved his position and the penalty for that is a pass-through, so he was moved back to the tail end of the longest line or 18th position.

"At the drivers' meeting we clearly state that you cannot improve your position by going below the yellow line. We do not feel he was forced below the yellow line. Anytime you get into a situation like this, there are going to be two different opinions.

"We respect Regan's view, but we made the call, we think it's the right call and the finish is final."

The yellow-line rule is one that is not written down in NASCAR's rulebooks, leading to controversy in the past already.

Back in April of 2003, Dale Earnhardt Jr overtook Matt Kenseth for the lead of the race with three laps remaining at Talladega while driving below the yellow line. Earnhardt eventually won the race as officials deemed he had already passed Kenseth when he crossed the line at the bottom of the track.

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Regan Smith
Author Diego Mejía
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