NASCAR penalized a driver for making a ‘smart move’

Tyler Reddick, 23XI Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)
Tyler Reddick, 23XI Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images) /

NASCAR penalized Tyler Reddick for making what they admitted was a smart move in this past Sunday afternoon’s race at Sonoma Raceway.

In the closing laps of Sunday afternoon’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway, 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick had a flat tire on his No. 45 Toyota on the short straight between turns 11 and 12, just before the start/finish line.

Given where he was on the race track, the flat tire was all but guaranteed to bring out a caution flag, since Reddick needed to go around the entire 12-turn, 1.99-mile (3.203-kilometer) Sonoma, California road course in order to get to the pits.

But knowing where he was on the track, Reddick decided to drive across the section of the course which separates the straight between turns 10 and 11 and the straight between turns 11 and 12.

As a result, he made it into the pits without having to run an entire lap, and thus not causing a caution flag which inherently would have affected the outcome of the race in some way, shape, or form.

Unfortunately, the “smart move” is against the rules, and NASCAR penalized Tyler Reddick for “cutting the course”.

There is no argument against NASCAR’s decision, however. They were just abiding by the rule book. Having said that, Reddick also made the right decision, and perhaps this is a rule that should be modified or at least reassessed. NASCAR even admitted that he made the smart choice, given the circumstances.

Part of NASCAR’s argument for issuing the penalty, aside from the fact that it was a clear violation, was the fact that Reddick made out better than he would have had he gone around the race track. He would have lost far more ground had he stayed out.

But aren’t drivers supposed to be looking out in their best interest? And in Reddick’s case, he was looking out for everybody else’s best interest too, since there would have been a caution had he not broken the rules. He wasn’t looking out for his own best interest at the expense of somebody else.

Additionally, he didn’t really “cut the course”, per se. He effectively backed up. He was on the same lap the entire time, and he hadn’t even completed a single turn of the race track from the time he came off of turn 11 with the flat tire to the time he ended up in the pits.

He didn’t gain a lap — or any ground — on everybody else by making the move, which is what “cutting the course” implies. Perhaps the definition of what cutting the course means should also be reassessed, especially when doing so prevents somebody else’s race from being ruined.

Reddick, who finished the race in 33rd place after starting on the front row, now sits in 13th in the point standings after 16 of 26 races on the regular season schedule. He occupies a provisional playoff spot, having won at Circuit of the Americas back in late March.

At FanDuel Sportsbook, Reddick’s odds to win the championship are listed at +2000. Sign up today with their current promotion and bet now!

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The NASCAR Cup Series is off this coming weekend, but action is scheduled to resume on Sunday, June 25 at Nashville Superspeedway. The Ally 400 is set to be broadcast live on NBC beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET. This race is the first race of NBC’s portion of the broadcast schedule. Begin a free trial of FuboTV before then and don’t miss it!