For fans that questioned why NASCAR went six full laps under caution late in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race around the massive four-plus mile Road America track, there’s a very good explanation.
NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell said Monday morning on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio the lengthy caution was a culmination of a number of circumstances.
“You never want to have to red-flag a race,” O’Donnell said. “So if you can avoid that, keep the cars or trucks moving out on the track and do that in a reasonable amount of time, that’s always our first goal.
“If you look at Road America, we had a car get off into the sand pit (No. 88 of Ben Rhodes), we thought that would probably take two laps. You have a long course there with over four miles, so we thought that was plenty of time to get that vehicle off the track, allow for the pit cycles as well.
“As we were coming to one to go, multiple times we had incidents on the track with either vehicles stalling and we had oil put down with another vehicle coming off pit road that stopped the one-to-go.
“It was kind of a chain of events that you cannot predict, unfortunately. You never want to have a caution that long, but it was one of those that each (incident) would have brought out an individual caution flag and a red in that time frame would almost cause more damage because it would have been down for longer.
“It’s something you never want to see, but it’s an unusual circumstance that happened and Road America presents challenges. We’re happy we were able to get some green flag racing back towards the end there.”
Wisconsin native and Sprint Cup regular Paul Menard won the race, holding off a charge by Ryan Blaney in the final four laps under green.
This was the sixth consecutive season that the Xfinity Series has raced at Road America.
O’Donnell said NASCAR has considered adding another road course race to the Truck Series, and the central Wisconsin track — which has proven to be a very popular venue for the Xfinity Series — would likely be on the short list of potential candidates.
“You never know,” O’Donnell said. “Certainly, from the Xfinity Series, we’ve got the number of road courses that we need. We think it provides a really great venue for the Xfinity Series.
“You never know with Trucks. Right now, you’ve only got one road course in an ideal situation (Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, site of Sunday’s Chevrolet Silverado 250, won by Erik Jones).
“You’d like to have at least two (road course races) for the race teams, and I think it’s consistent that we’ve put on some great racing on the road courses. So that is something we could look at down the road.”