Preload is illegal?

In auto, can robot exceed the 18 inch limit when preload the ball? As far as I can understand, preload is already in game mode although the “3,2,1” has not start. Any thoughts?

The preload ball itself does not need to start within the 18" volume of the robot. However all parts of the robot, including any mechanism that holds on to the preload, must start with in the 18" volume.