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Kenseth: Truex took advantage of rule that hasn’t been enforced

Martin Truex finishes 10th in the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway after being penalized for passing on the inside of the pit road to get to his pit box.

Matt Kenseth still hasn’t seen a replay of the pit road pass that NASCAR penalized Martin Truex Jr. for in last weekend’s race at Kentucky Speedway.

But Kenseth, who is connected to Truex through Joe Gibbs Racing’s alliance with Furniture Row Racing, knows why Truex would pass Kevin Harvick to Harvick’s left while entering his pit box.

“I’m sure if he passed to the left coming into the pits, it’s technically against the rules, but they haven’t called it in a long time,” Kenseth said Tuesday during a test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “If there’s something not being called and you’re trying to get every advantage you can and the cars are all incredibly so close to the same speed right now and the rules are so tight, pit road is as competitive as the race track is.

“You’re always going to try and get every advantage you can with speed lines or what have you.”

This was the first time the penalty has been issued this season in the Sprint Cup Series. The penalty led NASCAR on NBC analyst Jeff Burton to say it could open “Pandora’s Box” in the future. It’s a rule that Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, said officials would “reiterate” to drivers.

That’s something Kenseth would appreciate.

“In a way it would be nice to say ‘Look, this is stuff we’re watching more, we’re going to call this, we need everybody to do it the same,’ ” he said.

The JGR driver also explained that when it comes to passing to the left on pit road: “The slower the pit road speed, the worse it is.

“There’s some places where there’s been some pretty questionable situations where you have really slow pit roads speed like Martinsville or something like that, where people will pull left and pass five cars coming to their pit stall.’'

But when it comes to the passing rule, Kenseth said “I think everybody knows what the rules are there.”

That’s not the case for Paul Menard, who is also in Indianapolis for the test. Unlike Kenseth, the Richard Childress Racing driver has seen a replay of what Truex did and was “surprised” by NASCAR’s ruling.

“I had no idea what the penalty was for, but I saw him gas up at the timing line and make a pass,” Menard said. “He had a really good pit box where he could really accelerate hard and some of these tracks you can’t be as aggressive as at. I was surprised at the penalty, for sure.

“I always thought you couldn’t pull up to pass or pull up to pit on the access road before you get to the commitment line. That’s kind of what we’re always told every week. But as far as on pit road, if you’re within your timing lines and you’re not speeding, I always thought that was fair game. I guess we need some clarification.”

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