NASCAR defended its late-race caution Sunday, saying there was a piece of metal on the track, which created led to the final restart.
Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, told “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the piece of metal was spotted by an official on the flagstand and confirmed via camera, causing the final caution and negating Kyle Busch’s significant lead.
Busch took off on the final restart and cruised to the win and the Sprint Cup championship.
O’Donnell explained the situation with debris cautions in general and the final caution in particular.
“We’ve got multiple spotters out there,’’ O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, noting officials are positioned around the track. “If fans could go back and replay the radio chatter up to the tower during that race, I’m going to say we had upwards of 100 different reports from drivers calling in debris — many of them about to fall a lap down.
“We’ve got to vet a lot of that. We’re certainly going to rely on our spotters, who call something in. We’ve got 20 different camera angles we can look at. We can zoom in on anywhere on the track. Rest assured, we know the stakes are very high and in that situation in the final caution our flagman saw metal right below him in the groove.
“We looked and we confirmed that it was there and made the call. A car ended up hitting it as they were going around so it went down to the yellow portion of the track. I know television showed a water bottle unfortunately but then came back. When there is metal on the track we’re going to make the call each and every time.’’