Cars lined up four wide coming to the green; NASCAR extended the caution several times to sort the lineup; Erik Jones thought he as suppose to be the leader
With just 49 laps to go, the NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway was in the middle of a green flag pit cycle. However, Ryan Newman’s crew had a tire get away from them.
The tire rolled across the pit lane. It came to a rest on the infield grass. NASCAR dropped the caution flag so they could safely retrieve the tire.
The caution confused a few drivers in various ways.
Ryan Newman: “What the hell’s the caution for?”
Crew: “The caution’s for our rear tire that went across pit road and on into the grass.”
Newman: “10-4. I guess we deserve this one.”
Newman was one of 20+ cars that were now trapped a lap down due to the caution coming out when it did. Only 7 total cars were on the lead lap when the caution dropped.
22 lap cars who pitted prior to the caution, stayed on the race track as the leaders pitted. Those 22 cars took the wave around and yet only 5 of them were back on the lead lap. They were multiple laps down due to when the caution dropped
Kyle Busch would have been the leader. Instead, he was penalized for driving through too many boxes.
Coming to the green, we saw mass confusion. Drivers lined up three and four wide when they should have by two by two.
If the green flag drops like that, those drivers would be penalized with a green flag pass through penalty. In this case, if NASCAR did that, they would have had to penalize half the field.
The lights were out as they ran four wide off turn four but NASCAR extended the caution for a lap. The cars formed two by two and the caution lights went out once again. Then, the field formed four wide once again and NASCAR put the caution lights back on, delaying the restart for the second time.
At this point, FOX threw the television broadcast to commercial. As it returned, Erik Jones was under the impression he would be the leader. The team argued their point to NASCAR officials.
#20 radio: “This still isn’t right. We should be the damn leader. All those guys in front of us, pitted. If we did not lose a lap then we’re the leader because they all came down pit road.”
But, that’s no what happened.
Lineup order (per rule book)
-Lead lap cars
-Lap down cars (-1 or more)
-Wave around cars
-Free pass cars
-Penalty cars (Kyle Busch
Wave around cars are suppose to line up behind the cars that are a lap down. That’s where the confusion was for the majority of the field.
In the case of Erik Jones, all staying out did was put him back on the lead lap.
Steve O’Donnell on restart confusion
“If that was a normal caution with nobody on pit road, it’s 2 laps and we’re back racing,” Steve O’Donnell stated on ‘The Morning Drive’ via Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
“It’s probably the worst case scenario for us when cars are in the middle of green flag pit stops and we have to throw the caution.”
“Looking back, we’ll review. Could we have waited until the round of green flag stops had happened and then gone and got the tire? Probably.”
“But, it was what it was. That presents some challenges with cars coming off pit road and thinking they’re on the lead lap and they’re not, IE: The #20.”
“Where the leader is? Who gets off pit road before the leader? A lot of that takes time.”
“We had some challenges getting cars in position. That’s on us. It took one or two laps more than we would have hoped. We’ll improve that.”