Takeaways from the Clash: Yes, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. broke the yellow-line rule

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. climbs in his car during a NASCAR auto racing practice session at Daytona International Speedway, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Welcome to the 2018 season and welcome back to our post-race takeaways column. Per usual, we’ll have some random thoughts to espouse after Cup Series races and this column will be the landing spot for them. Can you believe the season has already started?!

• There’s no debate that Ricky Stenhouse Jr. deserved to get penalized for his move below the yellow line during Sunday’s Advance Auto Parts Clash exhibition race at Daytona.

Stenhouse drew a black flag from NASCAR while passing Kyle Busch on the backstretch in the middle part of the race. Stenhouse had a run on Busch and moved to the inside of Busch between the No. 18 car and the yellow line.

Busch forced Stenhouse below the yellow line and Stenhouse stayed in the gas, powering past Busch as he blended back onto the track.

(Fox)

Stenhouse got a black flag a short time later and was effectively eliminated from contention.

After the race, Stenhouse wasn’t too thrilled with the rule, threatening to wreck the driver ahead next time he was in a similar situation.


NASCAR’s yellow line rule is pretty cut and dry, even if you can quibble with the way it’s been enforced. It only applies at Daytona and Talladega and is designed to keep cars from diving onto the apron to make passes.

[Brad Keselowski wins the Clash]

Per the rulebook, “If in NASCAR’s judgement, the vehicle goes beneath the double yellow lines to improve its position, vehicle will be black-flagged. If in NASCAR’s judgement, a vehicle forces another vehicle beneath the double yellow lines, the [blocking] vehicle may be black flagged.”

There is no caveat to this rule that allows a car moved below the yellow line to legally improve his or her position; meaning Stenhouse deserved the black flag for passing Busch. Had he not passed Busch, Stenouse doesn’t get penalized.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was even a bit confused about the rule too.


NASCAR vice president Steve O’Donnell said the rule was clear.


Junior didn’t agree, and raised a good point.


It’s fair to say the yellow line has outlived its usefulness as an out-of-bounds marker. The grass — which will rip a car’s splitter off — serves as a natural boundary on the backstretch and to the inside of the apron in the corners.

And, as Stenhouse noted, what’s to stop him from crashing the car ahead (and likely more) the next time something like this happens. The yellow-line rule’s existence isn’t paramount to restrictor plate racing. NASCAR can get rid of it and few people will notice. And maybe fewer cars will get crashed.

• The cars from Chip Ganassi Racing were loose as hell.


And then Jamie McMurray crashed after slight contact with Kurt Busch.


Maybe their instability had something to do with the new ride-height rules in effect for restrictor plate races. The rear of the cars are much lower this year, meaning less rear downforce and less rear grip.

• Will there be bump-drafting issues with the new Chevrolet Camaro bodies? Both Jimmie Johnson and Larson wanted to look at the footage of their last lap crash. The nose of the Camaro is a bit pointed, meaning an off-center bump draft could be riskier than it previously was.

“Yeah, that’s the first time I’ve went to push somebody and I hit him pretty solid and just turned him into the wall,” Larson said. “I hate that I was the one that caused the wreck. I still haven’t seen a replay. Obviously, I know I’m the one that started that, but I’d just like to see if I did hit him as hard as I think I did, or what. Or if our bumpers just don’t line up as well with the new Camaros, or what.”

The wrecked marked the seventh-straight Clash that has ended in a crash for Johnson. That’s a heck of a streak.

“I had some contact from behind and we got turned into the outside wall,” Johnson said. “I haven’t had a chance to look at it and see what exactly happened, but the nose on our Chevy is pretty pointy.  I was pushed by a Chevy so I don’t know if that had something to do with it or not.”

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!