A late race penalty on a restart for what some think was a questionable caution at Richmond set into motion circumstances that likely shifted the outcome of the race Saturday night. Once again, NASCAR’s restart rules claimed a victim – this time, Carl Edwards.
Angry after the race, Edwards said NASCAR had repeatedly told his spotter Jason Hedlesky that Edwards was the leader, meaning he got to start to race. NASCAR VP of Competition Robin Pemberton disagreed, reiterating that the #99 wasn’t the leader and even if Edwards had been, he jumped the start.
The source for all things science and NASCAR, and author of The Physics of NASCAR, Dr. Diandra has a theory that the perception in this case that Edwards jumped the start, may not have in fact been reality. It’s physics I guess…
Although the restart controversy regarding the 14 and the 99 seems to be more a matter of a communications screw up (both cars claim they were told they were P1), it raises an interesting issue in terms of what we perceive vs. what actually is. Even sat at a train crossing and had the momentary feeling that the train was standing still and you were moving sideways? Here’s a series of animations I put together really quickly. See if they do the job.
UPDATE: I think I was light above with detail, so I just wanted to update with Dr. Diandra Leslie-Pelecky’s comment from below:
“Thanks for the link! Just to make sure this is viewed in the proper context, even if Edwards had been the leader, it looks pretty clearly like he jumped the restart. I wasn’t trying to say that the call was wrong, just to point out that you can’t always trust what you see!