The race ending caution was for debris; Not, the flip on the backstretch
Coming to the white flag, Ricky Stenhouse Jr had a mechanical issue. It was likely a tire failure as he abruptly slowed then the car hung dead right into the outside wall.
Stenhouse Jr didn’t make contact with anyone. As he bounced off the wall, the field drove by at 200mph. Stenhouse came to a rest on the apron ahead of turn one.
The caution flag was not deployed at this point. Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman led the field into turn one.
Off turn two, David Ragan pushed into William Byron. The #24 was sent across traffic, clipping Kyle Larson. The #42 went airborne and rolled across the back stretch.
The caution was deployed at this point and Chase Elliott was declared the winner a half lap early at Talladega.
Steve O’Donnell on the final lap at Talladega
“Our desire for the fans is to always try to finish under green,” Steve O’Donnell stated via ‘The Morning Drive’ on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
“You wanna try to let the race play out as much as we can. That starts with the #20 car going into turns 3-4. Do you throw that caution? Or wait and see if the car is able to roll off.”
“If he was stalled out on the apron, the caution comes out. We saw he was able to drive off. That gives you our philosophy in the closing laps.”
“When it comes to the #17, he hits the wall and slowly goes down. Does he have the ability to fire the car back up and drive off or not? And, is there anything on the track?”
“We’re going 200mph. So, to look at that, takes a few seconds. By the time that happens, cars are out in turns 1-2. The car doesn’t roll off so we throw the caution.”
“That caution flag was almost the exact time when the incident started unfolding on the backstretch. Even if there was no incident on the backstretch, the caution would have come out.”
Has NASCAR considered changing the rules on the flags that end the race when it comes to a caution?
“We’ve looked at this for years. And we’ve finished under caution. We’ve looked at multiple green/white/checkers. We’ve look at a lot of different things.”
“To avoid the endless cycle of constant restarts and in fairness to the drivers and teams we wanted to have a policy set. I think we’re comfortable with where we’ve been.”
“It rarely happens on the white flag. So, I think that’s a policy you’ll see us stick with for awhile.”
Kyle Larson Crash
NASCAR doesn’t like to see cars with air underneath them. Rarely does a car roll like that.
The sanction has put in extensive testing and various safety implementations to prevent that very thing. Roof flaps, shark fins and every piece of the car is designed to keep cars on their wheels.
There was a rule change ahead of Talladega, several actually. Most notably is the 9″ spoiler. However, between practice sessions, NASCAR also added a wicker to the spoiler. That wicker had already been tested from a safety front prior to being announced.
“A lot of work goes into it, even prior to the race with the wind tunnel. With the wicker, looking at what the lift off speeds were,” O’Donnell continued.
“We were more than comfortable with the results going into the race. We’ll have to look at the initial impact of that car on the side, around the right rear.”
“Did that contribute to the air getting under the tire? We’ll look at all that. We’ve certainly make any adjustments we need to. That’s the number one goal is keeping cars on the ground.”
“I’m glad to see Kyle was alright. I talked to him after the race.”
“Every piece you either add or take off, what does that do? Not only from a rules perspective but in terms of lift off speed.”
“Anything we are considering from a test in Daytona. You know, when we added the wicker, you then gotta put that in the wind tunnel and see how that effects the lift off speed, pro or con.”
“Make sure you’re in a good place before you roll anything out on the track, particularly at Talladega.”