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Berry, Preece, Keselowski endorse NASCAR restart policies after Hamlin no-call

Josh Berry and Ryan Preece were both unified and adamant on Tuesday morning when asked about Denny Hamlin and the restart debate from the Cup Series race on Sunday at Richmond Raceway.

Effectively, they said it was fine and the discourse is overblown.

“You take that one, bud,” Preece told Berry with a laugh.

“I didn’t see any issue with what happened personally,” Berry said. “We have both raced short tracks that used restart lines, restart zones and different things, and it’s really easy to handicap the leader.

“I think there has to be some flexibility here. The leader is the leader for a reason and has to have the right to control the restart. And like Denny said, you’re often judging what you do as the leader based on the car in second and third, so they’re lagging back and trying to time the run and sometimes you have to push the envelope a little bit to not end up getting screwed out of the lead. That’s the only way to put it.

“In general, I think this is pretty much blown out of proportion. I don’t think it’s a big deal. We don’t need to look at the ECU and SMT data. We need to have flexibility and let racers race.”

Preece was in complete agreement.

“Any short track I’ve raced, you’re at a disadvantage sometimes when you have a (restart zone) like that because you’re at the mercy of if I don’t go at the first line, and the guy outside of you goes, he has a nose out there and that’s not called, you’ve lost the advantage.

“If (Denny) waited, then Joey rolled up and now he’s got momentum on (him) and can pull out three wide on you into Turn 1. It’s a lose-lose situation but at the end of the day, that’s racing.”

Berry emphatically chimed in there with a ‘yeah.’

“You can go late in the box,” Berry said, “and then you get run into, spin your tires, and they say, he spun his tires, and it’s because you got ran into the back of because everyone is trying to time it. Denny did what he had to do.”

Brad Keselowski was also asked about the topic on Tuesday during a media availability at the NASCAR content facility in Concord, North Carolina and struck a similar tone. He argued that last week, at Circuit of the Americas, the gripe was that NASCAR had to call too many penalties for course cutting and now they are getting called out for not making a penalty.

Ultimately, Keselowski says that NASCAR will always face this kind of reaction to ball and strike calls no matter what they do to the figurative strike zone.

“In the Xfinity race, there was a scenario where (Aric) Almirola had the lead and went late in the box and everyone got mad about that,” Keselowski said. “Where there’s competition there will be differing viewpoints over what led to the results.

“Someone put up a video yesterday of Tony Stewart jumping the restart at Watkins Glen like 27 years ago at Watkins Glen and now jumping the restart is a matter of three or four feet but then it was based on 100 yards.

“It goes to show that some things will never go away.”

Based on what happened at Circuit of the America, would fans have been mad if NASCAR actually took away the win from Hamlin?

“No, because it’s him,” Berry said. “It were the two of us, people wouldn’t have thought anything of it, honestly.”

“Yep,” Preece said.

Hamlin has become kind of the top heel in NASCAR in recent years and the Stewart-Haas guys believe fan reaction to the restart reflect more how fans feel about him than the enforcement of the rules.

The restart zone was expanded from 700 feet to 1400 in 2015 and Preece just doesn’t think anything needs to change when he was asked about the current width too.

“Like, I’m going to be honest with you, you can ask me the same question 20 different ways and I’m going to give you the same answer,” he said with a laugh.

Berry added, ‘sooner or later, someone is going to jump it and get called’ and all the two teammates want is for it to be consistent.

“The biggest thing is police it the same way,” Preece said. “He was the leader man. If he went 300 feet early, someone will go 400 feet next.”

Should NASCAR add a ‘within our judgement’ line to the rule book?

“20 different times,” Preece said again. “Listen, if someone starts in the middle of Turns 3 and 4, we can have this conversation, a real conversation, about it. We’re talking about a third of a car length. Go look at your hood when you go to the car. That’s what we’re talking about here.”

Matt Weaver is a Motorsports Insider for Sportsnaut. Follow him on Twitter.

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