After Kurt Busch questioned some non-calls by NASCAR at the end of the race at Talladega, particularly about not throwing a caution flag on the final lap, Steve O’Donnell responded Monday morning.
O’Donnell, chief racing development officer, was asked about the procedure during his weekly appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and said the sanctioning body stands by its decision not to display the caution. However, in addition to Busch’s comments and concerns, comparisons were made to the quick caution thrown Saturday afternoon in the Camping World Truck Series race, when an accident also occurred on the last lap.
Busch claimed there need to be stricter policies on such incidents at the end of races. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver was leading at the time of the accident involving Matt DiBenedetto, Chase Elliott, and Kyle Busch. He felt there were two cars “dead in the water” sitting on the racetrack where an ambulance should have been dispatched.
“Two different races and every race is different,” O’Donnell said the race endings. “Every call is a judgment call. The [crash] on Saturday was in front of the field, you saw a couple of wheels get off the ground, and any time you’re going to have more and more of the field driving into that caution, we felt the need in that case to throw the caution. We always want to try to end under green, but in that case, we just felt like we couldn’t.
“Then on Sunday, very similar in terms of a car hitting the wall but where it happened was different and in terms of where the field was. The 32 car [DiBenedetto] then kept rolling, which is certainly a sign for us that we’re OK to keep going. The 9 car [Chase Elliott] where it stopped was right in front of our safety vehicles and had communication from the tower that that car was in good shape, so we elected to not throw the caution and finish under green.”
O’Donnell agreed there will always be concern when a car does not roll away from an accident scene or when a driver does not lower the window net. The priority becomes getting a crew to that car and driver.
“If we see a car with a window net up or a driver that we know that’s had a significant hit and 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,” said O’Donnell.
“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 in Turn 1 and rolled those immediately once the winner crossed the start/finish line.”