NASCAR Admits Mistake

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The fuzzy "gentlemen's agreement" to not race under the yellow flag was blurred further on Tuesday when NASCAR admitted it made a mistake allowing Matt Kenseth to keep the lead last Sunday at Texas even though Jeff Gordon passed him before crossing the finish line.

``If we had to do that call over again, we would have done it differently,'' NASCAR president Mike Helton said Tuesday.

With Kenseth leading Sunday's Samsung/Radio Shack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, caution came out near the midway point for Elliott Sadler's crash. As is usually the case among teammates, Kenseth slowed before crossing the start-finish line to let Roush Racing's Jeff Burton and Kurt Busch to get their lap back as well as Roush affiliate Ricky Rudd.

But second place Gordon wanted no part of the action and sped around Kenseth into the lead before coming across the line. The move was perfectly legal under the rules, however NASCAR disallowed it because as Helton said, "drivers are typically told that the leader makes the decision on whether to allow lapped cars by him before crossing the line." However Gordon was not a lapped car and was within his right to overtake the leader.

Most racing under yellow-flag conditions is typically done under a gentlemen's agreement between the drivers in which more times than not, everyone stays in line with only lapped cars trying to gain position.

Since there is no written rule, Helton said NASCAR should not have gotten involved on Gordon's pass.

Sunday's controversy came on the heels of a similar scenario which arose in Saturday's Busch Series race at Texas when race leader Brian Vickers was penalized for passing a slower car on the restart after a caution period. It appeared Vickers made the move to avoid an accident with lapped car Chad Blounbt, however NASCAR's decision took Vickers from contention for his first career win.

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