NASCAR VP explains why Jimmie Johnson was Parked at Talladega following rulebook confusion
NASCAR red flag rules came into question Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Why? Because the Lowe’s #48 crew mistakenly worked on the race car under the red flag.
“We went out and advanced quite a few spots as a result. It looks like NASCAR’s trying to take that away from us,” Jimmie Johnson stated as he left the care center.
Related: Jimmie Johnson on Talladega Red Flag
How did they do that? I’m sure they knew not to do that. It was a confusion of the rule book, as explained below.
NASCAR VP explains NASCAR Red Flag rules
“I knew that question would come up,” Elton Sawyer, NASCAR VP of Officiating and Technical Inspection tells Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
“In the situation at Talladega, obviously Jimmie was involved in one of the incidents. [He] came to pit road, the red flag was displayed. As our fans know, we do that for a couple different reasons. First of all we can dispatch safety equipment much quicker. We can get them out there, get the track cleaned up and get back to green.”
“But, while we’re under red, no work or service can be done to the vehicle. What happens is, David Hoots who is our Race Director, he will say, as he did yesterday, ‘The cars on the back straight-away, fire up the engines.’ ”
This is where the misunderstanding of the rulebook took place within Hendrick Motorsports. When they heard the engines fire, they assumed the red was removed. But, it was not.
“We’re still under red conditions. What happened yesterday and we talked to Chad and Mr. Hendrick and explained to them, they totally understand. The team assumed they could go back to work.”
“Our officials were on pit road telling them, ‘No, you can’t do that.’ Then, the red was resented, we displayed the yellow, which would have allowed them to go back to work.”
That put them out of the event.
“Because they were under the DVT policy and they worked under Red, that put them out of the event.”
The final race status on the results sheet for Jimmie Johnson was parked. He was involved in the last race accident. Everyone else in the wreck, that have a final status of ‘accident’.
However, Jimmie Johnson wasn’t the only one. Matt DiBenedetto has the same status.
Jimmie Johnson was involved in a similar incident last week at Charlotte. In that situation, they understood the rulebook better than more teams. Ironically, this week, they didn’t know the full understanding of the red flag rule.