NASCAR official explains safety team response time, “slow” caution in Truck incident

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A senior NASCAR official said the caution should have been out before Johnny Sauter ran into the back of Trey Hutchens’ disabled truck in Friday night’s race and the safety team should have arrived sooner to Sauter’s truck than it did.

Scott Miller, NASCAR vice president of competition, made the comments Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive.”

Sauter and Hutchens were not injured in the vicious crash during the Camping World Truck Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“Obviously, the caution was slow in coming,” Miller said. “There’s no question about that. We’ve had our internal debrief, obviously, that night; the next day before the Xfinity race.

“A few things played into that. No excuses.”

Just before the incident, Matt Crafton’s truck came down pit road with smoke trailing. Hutchens had a tire go down in Turn 3 and rode near the wall looking to cut down the track to enter pit road. He was unable to do so and slowed near the wall beyond Turn 4.

“They were coming pretty hard,” Hutchens said. “They probably needed to throw the yellow a little sooner.”

Sauter was among a group of trucks that came upon Hutchens’ vehicle and slammed into the back of it. Sauter was unaware Hutchens’ truck was there.

Miller explained why the caution didn’t come out sooner.

“With it happening simultaneously to the 88 (Crafton) coming down pit road, I think most of our attention was focused on the 88 right then trying to determine whether or not we had potential fluid out there on the race track,” Miller told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

“Our turn spotter did see the 14 (Hutchens) up against the wall. The 14 made a move toward pit road and the turn spotter thought he made it to pit road before (Hutchens) made it outside of (the turn spotter’s) view. Kind of perfect storm there a little bit. No excuse again, but the paint job on the 14 was a super dark purple and the (truck) got up against the wall. Our flagman didn’t see it sitting there. And it led to a very, very unfortunate, unfortunate accident.

“A lot of things stacked up right there. Caution should have been out, not denying that. A lot of things led to that.”

Miller also addressed the response of the safety team.

The first safety crew member reached Hutchens’ truck about 45 seconds after the incident.

A safety vehicle took more than 90 seconds to reach Sauter’s truck after it stopped in the area used as a chicane for the Roval. Sauter dropped his window net — the driver’s signal that he is not injured — about 30 seconds before the safety truck arrived.

“Responding to two incidents is always tricky when we’re trying to get the field captured and all that,” Miller told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We could have also done a better job there. Got to the 14 in plenty of time. The 13 (Sauter’s truck), the response time probably wasn’t 100 percent of what it should have been, but there’s a lot of mechanics and a lot of moving parts in getting all that done. Every time we have one of these, we learn how to do things better.”