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Commitment line penalties strike Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and others

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400

RICHMOND, VA - APRIL 30: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER BOATS Toyota, races Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Toyota, during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 30, 2017 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

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The video was clear and to make sure competitors understood, NASCAR repeated the rule in the drivers meeting before Sunday’s race at Richmond International Raceway.

Drivers needed to have all four tires under the orange box at the commitment line to enter pit road.

Six drivers — including Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. — were penalized for a commitment line violation Sunday. Also penalized for the infraction were Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer, Danica Patrick and Reed Sorenson. This came a day after four Xfintiy drivers were penalized for a commitment line violation in that race.

In the rules video, which was played before Sunday’s Cup race, it stated: “The yellow commitment line is identified by an orange painted box. You are committed to pit road if you put four tires below the orange box.’’

After the video, Richard Buck, Cup series director, went over a few points with drivers, including the commitment line. Buck told competitors: “Once again, at pit entrance it’s all four tires under the orange commitment box.’’

If there was any doubt, Section 10.9.3.e of the Cup Rule Book states: “The commitment line has an outer boundary identified by an orange painted box. Vehicles are required to pass over the commitment line inside the outer boundary. All four tires must be beneath the orange box when passing over the commitment line at all Events, except those at Martinsville Speedway. For Events at Martinsville Speedway, two tires must be on/beneath the orange box at the white commitment line.’’

Truex was ninth entering pit road on Lap 368. He was among five cars that went to the outside of a safety truck between Turns 3 and 4 and had to cut down quickly to cross the commitment line to enter pit road. Others who came from around the safety truck were Busch, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. All four made it under the commitment line without penalty at that time.

“I knew I was really pushing the issue there but the field got all jammed there because of that safety vehicle on the race track,’’ said Truex, who finished 10th. “I had to go outside around that thing and when I knew – I knew pit road was open and we were pitting and I’m sure I could jerk that thing left as hard as I could and get to pit road without crashing the 41 (Kurt Busch) who was on my left side and I guess my right sides were on the box but not completely under.’’

“I thought the rule was two on or under the box, but obviously the call was that we were illegal and had to get a penalty, so I don’t know what the deal is there.

“They changed the rule I think last week on how it is, and I still thought it was if you had four at least on or under the box you were good but I don’t know. It is what it is. We were going to finish about 10th either way. We just weren’t that good today. Just one of those days where you battle all day and hope to get a top 10 and we barely did that.”

Busch was penalized 10 laps later. He was running second. Leader Joey Logano cut down at the last moment and got underneath the orange box to pit during a caution. Busch did not and was penalized. He had to start at the rear of the field and finished 16th. Fox asked Busch after the race about the penalty and he said: “Balls and strikes.’’

Truex’s crew chief, Cole Pearn, let his feelings be known after the race on Twitter about the commitment line penalties:

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