NASCAR had a quick trigger finger when it came to throwing a caution for a last-lap wreck in Thursday's first Gatorade 150-mile qualifying race.
In Saturday's Nationwide race, a 14-car wreck off Turn 4 of the last lap saw no caution flag until the race winner reached the finish line.
Brad Keselowski, who could have won the race depending on the timing of the flag, was asked about last-lap caution decisions and how drivers respond to them.
"You know, I
think that I walk a fine line with the comment there, obviously. I think there
is no doubt to me the most dangerous aspect of our sport that’s left is the
yellow flag situation in the closing laps of a race. And I make those comments
not in regard to the fact that if the yellow came out a little earlier I would
have won the race, in no way do I make those comments in that regard. I make
those comments in regards to the fact that if you’re running 25th, five or six
seconds behind the pack when the wreck happened, the yellow didn’t come out for
about six seconds from what I can estimate. And obviously there was a lot of
attention on that area so I’m pretty sure it was seen," he said.
"So the question is what
is the appropriate amount of time? I think it’s very much a judgment call.
With the wreck, I think it was in the Shootout, I think I would rather lean to
the cautious side. It’s tough for NASCAR, obviously, to wave the yellow early
and then take all the criticism from fans that didn’t see their driver win if
the yellow wouldn’t have come out that early. So I can see that side of it, but
I think that when I look at the sport and I look at the most dangerous frontier,
it’s not the head and neck system or anything like that. It’s getting hit from
a car that is six or seven second behind a wreck, but has to keep going because
the yellow is not out.
"Eventually it will happen where they’ll hit a very, very
slow car at a very high rate of speed and it will not be good. So I think that
that’s an area that is still loosely defined and I’m not sure how to define it
because I understand the difficulties that remain in that area to make those
decisions. When I think of what I’m most nervous about, I’m most nervous about
the last lap, being in the front pack, being wrecked and stopped in the middle
of the field and some guy from 35th, knowing that the yellow is not going to
come out for another six seconds, whales me going 180 when I’m going five or 10
or maybe stopped. That’s certainly an area that I think about for sure.”