Elliott Sadler: Restart rule unfair

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Elliott Sadler remains bitter and confused about why he was penalized for jumping the restart in the Nationwide Series race at Indianapolis.

His feelings grew even stronger after neither Jimmie Johnson nor Brad Keselowski were penalized for doing what he believes was the same thing on the final two restarts of Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Texas.

Sadler said NASCAR vice president for competition Robin Pemberton told him 30 minutes after the July 28 Indianapolis race that turned a potential win into a 15th-place finish that "you didn't do anything wrong."

"In the hauler after the race, Robin Pemberton looked in my eyes and said I didn't do anything wrong," Sadler said Friday at Phoenix International Raceway.

The lost points loom even larger now, with Sadler tied with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for the Nationwide lead with two races remaining.

Had Sadler won in Indianapolis, he would be 18 points ahead of Stenhouse heading into Saturday's race.

"I feel like it would be a totally different race if that didn't happen," Sadler said.

Pemberton said early in the week that Sadler was penalized with 18 laps remaining because it was "obvious" he was ahead of Keselowski when they reached the start line. He said that wasn't the case at Texas, where Keselowski appeared to go early on the next-to-last restart and Johnson was inches ahead of Keselowski on the last.

Keselowski admitted he spun his tires on the final restart at Texas just as Sadler said happened at Indianapolis where he was being pushed by two cars. Sadler stayed on the track with the lead until NASCAR black-flagged him with 12 laps to go.

Under the NASCAR rulebook, the second-place car isn't allowed to beat the lead car to the start line.

"We make the call when we know it's an obvious call that needs to be made," Pemberton said. "I think we've made those calls when they've been obvious."

Sadler understands NASCAR doesn't want to affect a championship race. But he insisted what happened at Indianapolis affects his title hopes as much as what didn't happen at Texas.

"So yes," he said. "I'm still confused."