NASCAR ambulance incident explained by NASCAR’s Steve O’Donnell

Sanctioning body executive Steve O’Donnell discusses the NASCAR ambulance incident

NASCAR had a tough night at Richmond Raceway. In the drivers’ meeting they stated, “We don’t want to get involved.”

Well, indirectly, they were involved. A handful of mistakes offered an alternative race result for many teams.

“We had a tough night for the guys up in race control,” Steve O Donnell told the ‘Morning Drive’ on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.

“I think if you’re a race team you talk about wanting to put that behind you and move-on to Chicago. We’re certainly gunna meet and make sure we put our best effort forward going into Chicago.”

Related: Richmond Raceway ambulance video

NASCAR Richmond Raceway mistakes
RICHMOND, VA – SEPTEMBER 09: Cars line up four wide in a salute to fans prior to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway on September 9, 2017 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

What was the breakdown?

“I think when you look at the year-to-date, we’ve been really consistent and done a really good job. Unfortunately, that didn’t carry through on Saturday night.”

1st pre-mature caution
Stage 1

“The first one was a quick trigger and was a mistake. If that was the only thing that would have happened, I think everybody would have said, ‘Hey that happens.’ ”

Matt Kenseth looked under Danica Patrick to put her a lap down. As he did that, he locked up the brakes and slid up the banking. NASCAR threw the caution, pre-maturely pressing the button. All drivers continued and no contact was made. Though, with the caution, Matt Kenseth hit pit road to immediately swap out his flat spotted tires.

“But when you couple that with what happened with the ambulance.” He hints that two back-to-back mistakes make it worse.

Richmond Raceway ambulance video

NASCAR Ambulance

“We communicated multiple times over the radio. To stop, pit road was open.”

“Unfortunately, where the vehicle chose to stop was in the worst place. We can’t go back and fix that. We can go back and look at the communication.

“That could have had a huge impact on the race. It actually did. But heading further into the playoff’s, that’s not something you ever want to see happen.”

Matt Kenseth was put on the caution clock. He was inside the top 5 at the time of the ambulance stack up. He finished 38th of 39.

Richmond Raceway ambulance addressed by NASCAR
Richmond Raceway ambulance addressed by NASCAR

What was the communication?

“In this case, the safety truck was a little bit ahead of the field. So we asked them to kinda stand on the gas to get ahead of the field. Which they did.”

“We asked the tow-truck and the ambulance to stop. That probably would have been about mid-way through the back stretch. The tow truck did.”

“Unfortunately, multiple communications on the ambulance and it just didn’t happen. And it stopped at a really bad place.”

Martin truex Jr Richmond Raceway caution
Martin Truex Jr

2nd pre-mature caution
3 to go

Martin Truex Jr was fairly upset with both Derrike Cope and NASCAR after the caution with 3 laps to go at Richmond. It caused Martin Truex Jr to question why Derrike Cope was even out on the racetrack.

Related: Derrike Cope has parted ways with his team after Richmond

“On that last caution, I’ve been back and fourth with Martin [Truex Jr]. He’s obviously upset and I think that’s fair,” stated Steve O’Donnell.

“It’s something we gotta look at as we go forward. Get back to being consistent. It was not our best effort.”

“We’re going to re-group. Have a bunch of meeting’s and get it right.”

Steve O’Donnell talks NASCAR’s mistakes at Richmond


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Shane Walters
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Richmond Raceway
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