KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Carl Edwards spoke with NASCAR President Mike Helton on Friday about the finish of last week’s race at Talladega, which ended under green despite a massive wreck.
Edwards was hit by Casey Mears, causing his No. 19 Toyota to spin sideways. Several drivers sped past him down the backstretch as they fought for position on the final lap — creating what Edwards thought was an unnecessarily dangerous situation.
“What we’re going to do is wreck a lot at the end of restrictor-plate races and the reason is, you saw it, everybody gets in a line and there’s no reason to risk it until the last lap or two,” Edwards said. “The last lap or two are complete chaos.”
NASCAR typically tries to avoid last-lap cautions because they freeze the field, essentially ending the race. There is no opportunity for another restart.
But Edwards estimated that there a 70 percent chance of a wreck in those situations, and recent history tends to back him up. Five of the last seven races on restrictor-plate tracks have ended under caution.
NASCAR vice president Steve O’Donnell explained to SiriusXM this week that the split-second decision to keep the race under green was made while Edwards’s car was still on the apron, and it looked like he would be clear. Moments later, Edwards spun back up the track.
When asked for his solution to the predicament, Edwards suggested a set of rules for tracks like Talladega that would allow only the leaders competing for the win to remain under green.
“The top five guys could have a points difference and then everybody fifth on back, or 10th on back, just give them the same amount of points,” Edwards said. “I don’t know. They are such frustrating races because there is so much out of your control.”
Edwards said that he could appreciate where NASCAR is coming from in wanting to give fans a finish under green, but part of his dilemma comes in protecting those same fans.
“We throw the caution for a little piece of debris on the apron at Richmond because it could be a risk, but we aren’t able to slow guys down when there’s a guy stopped on the race track?” he asked. “Those things just don’t go together. I don’t know the answer.
“Mike and Steve O’Donnell, they don’t have an easy answer either,” Edwards said, “because from their perspective, it looked like I was not in danger and they want the race to play out. If I was one of the leaders, I’d want the race to play out. But I’m telling you, you cannot have guys driving through wrecks like that. It is going to end badly for someone.”
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