Although five of the last seven Sprint Cup restrictor-plate races have ended under caution, Carl Edwards remains concerned that series officials did not throw a caution at the end of last weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway when his car was knocked on the apron and nearly came back up the track and into the field.
“I’m telling you, you cannot have guys driving through wrecks like that,’’ Edwards said Friday at Kansas Speedway. “It is going to end badly for someone.’’
Edwards was upset last weekend that NASCAR did not throw a caution for his incident and talked with a couple of drivers who sped past him and NASCAR President Mike Helton about what can be done in the future.
“It’s great to say, ‘Hey I closed my eyes and I floored it,’ and I’ve heard people in our garage say that,’’ Edwards said of how some have driven through crashes. “That sounds cool and everything but when somebody up in the grandstands gets hit by a piece of debris or there is somebody that is in a wheelchair in a hospital afterward, it doesn’t seem very smart.’’
Edwards says something should be done because wrecks on the final lap will continue to occur in restrictor-plate races.
“What we’re going to do is wreck a lot at the end of these restrictor-plate races,’’ he said. “Everybody gets in a line and they know that there’s no reason to risk it until the last lap or two.
“I would say there is probably a better than 70 percent chance we’re going to wreck every one of those times we do that. If there were a way to let the leaders race for the fans and for the win and all those things we want to see while penalizing guys for running wide open through the wreck, I think we should do that. If we … throw a caution for a little piece of debris on the apron at Richmond because it could be a risk, but we aren’t able to slow guys down when there is a guy sitting stopped on the race track. Those things they don’t go together.’’
NASCAR executive Steve O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio this week that series officials will make every effort to finish a race under green. O’Donnell explained why no caution was thrown for Edwards’ incident last weekend:
“If you look at the circumstances that played out with Carl, when we initially saw him get loose, he was down on the apron. As we made that quick decision, it was ‘OK, he’s clear we can go.’ Just as you make that, his car slides up across the track.
“We elected to let it play out. We certainly didn’t like to see how Carl came across the track, but ultimately, we were able to come back (and finish) under green-flag conditions.’’
So what is the solution?
Since restrictor-plate races at Talladega and Daytona International Speedway have special rules, Edwards suggested that maybe they should have a special way of finishing the races.
“Maybe … the top five guys could have a points difference and everybody from fifth on back or 10th on back gets the same amount of points,’’ Edwards said, noting that could eliminate the last-lap chaos deeper in the pack. “I don’t know. I do have to say that if a guy wrecks in front of me the next time we’re at Talladega on the last lap and I’m running 25th, I would hope that I would be conscious enough of the risks there and just go ahead make sure that I at least slowed down a little bit and gave them a chance.’’