NASCAR explains delay on caution for errant tire

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A NASCAR official said that series officials planned to retrieve the errant tire during Sunday’s Cup race at Kansas Speedway, but “we let the strategy unfold” before doing so.

The tire rolled away from Tyler Reddick’s pit crew during his stop on Lap 212 of the 267-lap race and went across pit road. The tire came to rest in the infield grass, just off pit road.

NASCAR did not throw a caution flag since the field was in the middle of green-flag pit stops. A few drivers, though, were stretching their run. A caution would have benefitted them by having part of the field a lap behind.

Chris Buescher was the final driver to pit in the cycle, giving up the lead to stop on Lap 226. The caution came out on Lap 231 to retrieve the tire. Kyle Busch went on to win the race.

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Elton Sawyer, NASCAR vice president of officiating and technical inspection, explained Monday on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, why there was a delay in the caution.

“As we sit in the tower, our role as officials is to basically keep a safe pit road, one, and, two, make sure we have a level playing field for the competitors,” Sawyer said. “As the tire became uncontrolled, our first decision was ‘Do we have a safety issue?’

“We felt it was far enough away from the racing surface and it also was off pit road. We were in the middle of a green-flag pit stop there, and we want to make sure the teams and their strategies that they have worked up throughout the event, that they’re able to unfold as they played out. We don’t want to get in the middle of that as the league.

“Now, if it’s a bona fide safety had issue, then we’ll have to act on that. As I said earlier, the tire was in a position that we didn’t feel like we had a safety issue. We let the strategy unfold, and once everyone had played out their cards there, we knew we had to go get it, it’s just when you do that. We made the decision and felt like (we) had no real issues after that. That was the right decision for both safety and the competition side.”