RICHMOND, Va. — Not even a meeting with NASCAR officials helped Carl Edwards understand why he was given a penalty at Richmond International Raceway.
“We had to just agree to disagree and that’s the way it is,” Edwards said.
In contrast, Tony Stewart knew exactly why he lost Saturday night’s race.
“We did everything we could to throw it away, it got taken away,” the defending Sprint Cup champion said. “I’m pretty ticked off about it.”
Both drivers were less than pleased when they left Richmond.
Jeff Burton smacked the wall, leaving behind debris that brought out the yellow with 89 laps remaining. It was Stewart and Edwards on the front row for the restart, and both believed they were the leader.
Edwards sailed away at the green flag, and was immediately penalized for jumping the restart and passing the leader before it was permitted.
Edwards had been told by his spotter he was the leader, and the spotter said that information came from NASCAR. And the leaderboard backed it up, as Edwards was shown in first place. So when he was lined up on the outside of the track, Edwards said he figured NASCAR had made a mistake, and he made a split-second decision to try to get the best restart he could.
That part is not in dispute: replays clearly showed Edwards rocketed past Stewart and had cleared him before reaching the official restart zone. And that’s against the rules, no matter who was leading the race.
Stewart was out front when NASCAR called a caution for debris 12 laps from the finish. The leaders pitted, and eventual winner Kyle Busch beat Stewart off of pit road, and easily handled the champion on the restart.
Stewart was annoyed with NASCAR over the caution.