Kurt Busch said NASCAR missed two calls at the end of the Talladega Superspeedway race; NASCAR explains both situations
NASCAR was quick to throw a caution at the end of the NASCAR Truck Series race on Saturday.
In the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, it was different. The field wrecked heading into turn one on the final lap. No caution flag was dropped.
Kurt Busch: NASCAR missed a call
The field raced it out to the end. Kurt Busch ended up running out of gas on the final corner. He wasn’t happy with NASCAR. Busch said it was a missed call by NASCAR that costed him a win.
“And, at the end. Once we crossed the white flag — If there’s a wreck and an ambulance needs to be dispatched,” Kyle Busch said after the race. “I’ve been on the other side of that, where I was racing coming back to win the race. They said, ‘Well, we had to dispatch an ambulance.’ ”
“There was two cars dead in the water down there [this time]. Chase Elliott’s safety is of my concern as was the #32 car [Matt DiBenedetto].
“It’s a human call. There’s rules that need to be stricter at the end of these races,” Busch continued.
NASCAR explains the final lap cautions
After the race, fans began drawing comparisons between both races over the weekend. Actually, each race saw a similar incident in the final lap. One brought out a yellow and the other did not.
NASCAR Truck Series: Talladega Finish
“Two different races. Every race is different and every call is a judgement call,” Steve O’Donnell, EVP, Chief Racing Development Officer at NASCAR explained via Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
“The race on Saturday, it was in front of the field. You saw a couple wheels get off the ground. Any time you’re going to have more and more of the field driving into that — We felt the need in that case to throw the caution.”
“We always want to try and end under green. But, in that case, we just felt like we couldn’t.”
NASCAR Cup Series: Talladega Finish
“Then on Sunday, you had a car hitting the wall. But, where it happened was different. In terms of where the field was.”
“The #32 car then kept rolling. Which is certainly a sign for us that we’re ok to keep going.”
“The #9 car, where it stopped was right in front of our safety vehicles. And we had communication from the tower that car was in good shape.”
“We elected to not throw the caution and finish under green.”
“We’ve got safety workers all over the track. You’ve got spotters. You’ve got every single camera angle up in the tower. We’ve got as much technology as possible to call that race.”
“But, ultimately, it’s on us to make that call. In this case, that could have gone either way.”
“I talked to Matt [DiBenedetto] after the race. He was supportive of the call, he understood. Our first job is to always make sure everybody’s safe. We felt like we did that in this case.”
“We’ll certainly go back and review it, like we always do. But, stand by the call and thought it was the right one.”
What draws the line?
In a case like this, NASCAR is damned if they do and damned if they don’t. When they’ve made a wrong call in the past, they’ve owned up to it, unlike other sporting divisions.
Fans demand a green flag finish. Drivers also demand their safety. But, in terms of a yellow, the line is drawn at the window net of the driver involved in a crash. Obviously, if a driver is hurt, the yellow flag is going to be thrown. The drop of the window net is a universal signal that the driver is ok.
“That is the concern. If we see a car with the window net up,” O’Donnell continued.
“Or if we see a driver with a significant hit that is not driving off from the incident — If that were the case in this incident, we would have thrown the caution and immediately had the safety vehicles rolling.”
“In this case, we felt like we had the time to get back to the checkered. We were in contact with the safety vehicles that were right there. We rolled those immediately, once the winner crossed the start finish line.”
Extra caution lap?
Kurt Busch also stated that NASCAR ran an extra lap under yellow than they needed to. He was extra sensitive to that fact given he ran out of fuel just a few hundred feet short of the finish line.
“Why have an extra yellow flag lap? It’s beyond me. The track was ready to go,” Kurt Busch said.
Kurt Busch ran a half straight-away short on fuel. If NASCAR threw a quicky yellow, Busch would have finished the race under power.
“We’re not monitoring each individual team on where they’re at on fuel. If we did, a lot of them wouldn’t be telling the truth on where they are on fuel.”
“If there was a caution with 35 to go. We’ll know, this is within the fuel window. If we had an opportunity to potentially throw a red flag because there was oil all over the track. That may help make that decision [being within the fuel window.]”
“But, in this case, none of that played out. It was a caution. We moved as quickly as possible. Once we were able to open pit road, we did. Then, ran through the normal cycle,” O’Donnell concluded.