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Was Denny Hamlin's Bud Shootout Pass Illegal?

Should Denny Hamlin have gotten credit for winning the 2011 Budweiser Shootout instead of Kurt Busch?

In the closing feet of the 2011 NASCAR season’s first race, Denny Hamlin made a pass on the inside of leader Ryan Newman that was deemed to be below the yellow line, and thus, illegal. Kurt Busch, who passed Newman on the outside, finished second and with Hamlin’s disqualification, was declared the winner.

Here is the finish:

It’s obvious that Hamlin’s car does indeed go below the yellow line. But NASCAR rules state that drivers are not to go below the yellow line to “advance their position”. In this case, it appears that the bumper of Hamlin’s car might be in front of the bumper of Newman’s car before the #11 goes into out-of-bounds territory.

If that’s the case, Hamlin’s pass was legal, since Hamlin did not advance his position while his car was below the yellow line, and thus should have been declared the winner of the 2011 Budweiser Shootout.

It’s controversial territory. It was a bang-bang call, and since NASCAR has enforced rules in the past about passing below the yellow line to take the win, perhaps they had no choice but to award the win to Kurt Busch, whether it was the correct call or not.

Hamlin seemed at peace with the call in his post-race interview. But remember, last year’s runner-up is still in hot water with NASCAR after comments he made last year at Michigan about NASCAR’s “phantom debris” cautions. His hands are pretty much tied.

Regardless of whether it was the right call, Kurt Busch is the 2011 Budweiser Shootout winner. But should he be?

What do you think? Was Hamlin’s pass legal or illegal?

Tags: Budweiser Shootout Denny Hamlin Kurt Busch Ryan Newman

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