Ken de la Bastide: NASCAR treated Chastain unfairly at IMS

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Aug. 2—NASCAR barely escaped a hornet's nest in the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard last weekend.

On the final restart, as was being done the entire race, the drivers were attempting to go three or four wide into the first corner.

The result, as could be expected, was drivers were beating and banging through the corner which resulted in numerous spins and drivers cutting through the grass.

For the overtime restart with cars four wide entering Turn 1, Ross Chastain had two options.

Option one was to try to make the move into Turn 1, which would have resulted in a melee.

Chastain choose the second option of driving through the escape lane and rejoining the field coming off the second corner.

Chastain obviously slowed somewhat before rejoining the field and took the lead from race leader Tyler Reddick.

Reddick, with the dominant car for the entire race, was able to retake the point and led the final lap to score his second win of July.

What if Chastain had won?

The week before at Pocono, NASCAR disqualified apparent race winner Denny Hamlin and second-place finisher Kyle Busch for a rule infraction.

The victory was given to third-place finishing Chase Elliott.

It had been 62 years since NASCAR disqualified a race winner, and the series potentially could have had the same scenario in two consecutive races.

Obviously, Chastain was not going to be awarded the victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

But I believe here is where NASCAR made a mistake.

They disqualified Chastain and scored him as the 27th-place finisher in the race.

Chastain was penalized for making the decision not to wreck a number of cars entering Turn 1 and instead taking the escape lane.

I would have preferred NASCAR officials got on the radio and told Chastain to fall behind Reddick and then start racing.

With the Cup Series running on the road course at IMS for the foreseeable future, NASCAR has to establish a rule for when a driver has to use an escape lane to avoid causing a melee.

Where do they blend into the field? Do they have to allow all the competitors to pass before resuming to race?

It will be interesting to see how NASCAR deals with the situation in the future, not only at IMS but at the other road courses where competition takes place.

The Verizon 200 was an entertaining race that witnessed several teams using different pit strategies.

The biggest loser of the day was Ryan Blaney, looking for his first win in 2022, who used a strategy to run longer sequences on tires.

Blaney ran for much of the day in the top five, and on his final stop took fuel only.

He was not going to win Sunday but was in a position to record a top-five finish when he was spun on the next-to-last lap entering Turn 1. He finished 26th.

Next year should be interesting at IMS.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.