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NASCAR says Gordon’s restart was ‘close’ but legal

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 400 by Janssen

JOLIET, IL - SEPTEMBER 20: Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, drives during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 20, 2015 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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NASCAR admits that Jeff Gordon’s restart on Lap 144 was “close” to being illegal, but officials ruled that his pass of leader Kyle Busch was good.

“It was close and all of our resources, especially our new resources … that helped us make our decision,’’ said Richard Buck, managing director for the Sprint Cup Series, after Sunday’s race at Chicagoland Speedway.

Restarts have been a major topic for competitors since last month’s Bristol drivers meeting when some questioned how NASCAR policed restarts. Drivers since have called for NASCAR to be more strict in officiating restarts. The issue again was a topic when car owner Roger Penske questioned Matt Kenseth’s move on the final restart at Richmond last weekend.

To help police the restarts, NASCAR went over the procedure in detail in the drivers meeting Sunday. NASCAR also began pointing a camera at the restart zone and added a series official near the zone this weekend.

“That official is looking and listening for when they fire,’’ Buck told reporters, referring to when the cars accelerate. “It gives us another perspective. He calls up to the tower and will give his input. We start to pull together all of the other resources from the video we have available to us. That’s when we come over the radio and say, if this is the case, the restart is under review. That allows us to pull the information in and make the decision.’’

Series officials reviewed Gordon’s restart and a decision came about 10 laps later.

Asked about the timeframe for announcing the decision, Buck said: “The most important thing for us is to get it right and be consistent. We’ll take whatever measures necessary to make sure we get it right.’’

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