NASCAR’s Steve O’Donnell said he understands Johnny Sauter’s frustration with the pit road procedure late in Stage 2 of Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race and said that it will be “something we’ll try to avoid going forward.’’
A three-truck incident brought out the caution on Lap 137 at Martinsville Speedway. The stage ended on Lap 140.
Sauter led but raised questions about when pit road was opened.
“I was disappointed that pit road wasn’t open when I drove by there and then was open for the rest of the field shortly thereafter,’’ Sauter said after finishing second in the race. “I’m not really sure what that glitch was about.’’
O’Donnell, executive vice president and chief racing development officer for NASCAR, explained Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” what happened.
“That’s a situation … where if you had to do it over again, you would probably do it differently,’’ O’Donnell said. “What happened in that situation was we had all intention of going back green for the stage. We opened pit road. We were about to cycle through and then there was debris found on the race track so we had to go though our normal procedure and then close pit road per the advertised rule of the stages.
“That was an unfortunate circumstance for Johnny. Something we’ll try to avoid going forward. I think he was right in his comments. It was a challenge. just something we didn’t foresee.’’
When the debris was found, the caution was extended. NASCAR closes pit road for the two laps before the end of the stage.
After the stage was complete, pit road was opened again. Sauter and others pitted and he restarted 13th.
Asked if there was a way NASCAR could have addressed the matter immediately, O’Donnell said: “ “No. In this case it’s one of those things that happened and we have just go to learn from it and kind of move to the next race and glad Johnny finished where he did. He’s always unbelievable at that race track, but I understand his frustration.’’