A NASCAR executive said that there was no need to hold back the black flag to Matt Kenseth when the team disputed the penalty Sunday because it had been reviewed before it was issued.
Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, explained the penalty of improper fueling to Kenseth’s team on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Monday.
“That all is purely safety,’’ O’Donnell said. “We want the person who is gassing the car to be solely focused on doing exactly that and nothing else. If that means that they’re going to place a tool on the car, or whatever it may be, place something else or do something else besides fueling while the gas can is engaged, that’s a penalty. It’s spelled out in the rule book.’’
Kenseth was given the black flag after his pit stop on lap 116 but did not immediately report to pit road for a pass-through penalty. Crew chief Jason Ratcliff debated the call with a NASCAR official and Kenseth was not informed of the violation. After Kenseth repeatedly did not respond to the black flag, NASCAR stopped scoring Kenseth for a lap. He then he came to pit road. Kenseth lost another lap because of the penalty and was never a factor in the race again.
“I think as we had some post-race discussions with the group from the 20 car, I think we can help out in terms of our communication,’’ O’Donnell said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “There was some challenges with a new spotter in terms of Matt not getting the message that he had been posted and received the black flag.
“I don’t think Matt chose to ignore the black flag. I think it was a bit of a miscommunication and going forward I think we can improve on that. The penalty was clear. I just think the communication on the back end took a little longer than both parties would have hoped for.’’
O’Donnell was asked on “The Morning Drive” if NASCAR should hold the black flag when a team is protesting the penalty.
“I’d say the call was made,’’ O’Donnell said. “Unlike maybe Major League Baseball, where a play is under review, we had already reviewed that call in the tower, we had already seen the video.
“Once we had confirmed the video, we made the call. I think the follow-up point … we need to just ensure the communication. Our intent is to never black flag a driver if we don’t have to and put drivers laps down, so I think that’s an area we can look at, but the call was not going to change based on any review. We had reviewed it in that case.’’