NASCAR works to avoid repeat of caution call at end of All-Star Race

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NASCAR will put provisions in place this week to avoid a repeat of the end of last weekend’s All-Star Race.

Elton Sawyer, NASCAR vice president of officiating and technical inspection, made the comment Tuesday during an appearance on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

NASCAR stated after last weekend’s race that the caution flag was called “prematurely” for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. hitting the wall on the last scheduled lap of the All-Star Race. 

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Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Sunday night that after Stenhouse’s contact: “The race director looked up — and I’m not sure what he saw — but he immediately put (the caution) out. Wished we wouldn’t have done that.”

The caution waved just before Ryan Blaney crossed the finish line. Thinking he won, Blaney lowered his window net, only to be told that the All-Star Race — unlike other Cup races — had to end under green flag conditions. 

Blaney scrambled to put the window net in place before the race resumed. Officials were satisfied with what he did and allowed him to remain on track. He won the event in overtime.

“What happened on Sunday night with the late caution, that is on us,” Sawyer said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “That is on the sanctioning body. We made the decision. We own it.

“We’re going to put additional provisionals in place this week where those things don’t happen. I want our fans to be assured that when we get into Charlotte (for this weekend’s races) we have addressed this. We’re going to make sure those things don’t happen again, and we’re going to be better for it.”

Asked what would be done, Sawyer noted a better way of filtering the information spotters and officials around the track provide to the race director on track conditions or any incidents.

“The race director is filtering through that information to ultimately make the decision,” Sawyer said of the call for a caution during a race. “As we go forward, what we’re looking at is how do we get more voices involved in that process there to make sure it is not just one person having to say, bam, put (the caution) out.”

Sawyer also said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that series officials have had conversations about whether there need to be special rules for the exhibition race. 

In every other Cup race, once the leader takes the white flag to begin the final lap, the next lap ends the race — whether that is a caution flag or that is the checkered flag.

Asked about if special rules should remain for the event or the rules should be the same for every NASCAR race, Sawyer said: “Those conversations have already started. We’ve had multiple conversations from the time we dropped the checkered flag on Sunday night to yesterday to even this morning. We’ll continue to have this dialogue.”

Sawyer later went on to say about special rules for races: “I think we will go back and revisit that to make sure that we are basically in a position to execute the weekend at a high level. When you only do it once or twice a year that becomes more difficult.”