TALLADEGA, Ala. – There was no yellow flag on the final lap of Sunday’s Geico 500, but Carl Edwards was angry that some Sprint Cup drivers didn’t proceed with caution.
Edwards finished 32nd after a collision with Casey Mears that caused a spin by his No. 19 Toyota, which slid sideways down the track as the field whizzed by.
“I really think that’s the most dangerous thing in the sport right now,” Edwards said. “When there’s a wreck, guys have to get on the brake or we’re going to have a lot of problems.
“The biggest cause of injury is going to be one of us not checking up when there’s a guy sideways. I’ve got my door facing the field, and (Justin Allgaier) goes by at about 160, 180 mph. That’s not the way I try to race these guys when there’s a wreck. That’s very frustrating.”
Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth said he did slow down “so I didn’t send Carl to the hospital. I’m just dumbfounded that NASCAR didn’t throw a caution. We were driving past wrecked cars for half a lap at 180 mph. It was a crazy ending.”
NASCAR has shown a reluctance to throw the yellow on the last lap because it freezes the field without the possibility of another restart.
“We make every effort to try to finish under green-flag conditions,” Sprint Cup managing director Richard Buck said in a statement distributed by NASCAR’s media relations staff. “We believe the circumstances that occurred allowed us to do that today.”
Edwards said he planned to talk with his NASCAR peers about being more mindful around cars that are spinning.
“Because there was a wreck at the end of the Daytona 500, and I slowed down, and it cost us a bunch of positions,” said the Joe Gibbs Racing driver, who finished 23rd in the season opener. “I guess some people would say, ‘Well, hell, your job is to stay on the throttle and go race, but we’re all out there and are human beings. You get a guy wrecking, you can’t just lay into his door. That’s pretty dangerous.”
Edwards did concede that he was making a nuanced point – “I come do all this complaining, and no one ran into me. But ooh. It’s tough. … Generally, if someone is spinning in front of you, you slow down a little bit, so if you do hit him, you don’t break their legs or hurt them. I don’t want to rant too much about it, but I was frustrated with that.”