While it doesn't appear a caution on the final lap of Sunday's GEICO 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway would have changed the winner - which ended up being Dale Earnhardt Jr. - NASCAR's decision not to throw one as cars were wrecking didn't sit well with some of the drivers involved in the incident, namely Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth.
On Monday morning NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O'Donnell addressed the issue during a weekly appearance on SiriusXM Satellite Radio's "The Morning Drive" show.
Here are O'Donnell's remarks:
“It’s going to be a judgment call. We’ve stated that we’re going to make every effort to try to finish a race under green-flag conditions. That’s what the fans want to see. We’ve got to be obviously mindful of what’s occurring on the race track. It’s a split-second decision. So, I think if you go back to Daytona and you saw a driver hit the wall what we thought was fairly hard and wanted to dispatch our emergency crews quickly, we elected to throw the caution. I think yesterday if you look at the circumstances that played out with Carl, when we initially saw him get loose, he was down on the apron. As we made that quick decision, it was ‘OK, he’s clear, we can go.’ Just as you make that, his car slides up across the track.
"That’s something you don’t want to see green- or yellow-flag conditions, but, at the time, if we would have thrown the yellow, then it’s too late because he’s already up and across the track. So, we elected to let it play out. We certainly didn’t like to see how Carl came across the track but ultimately we were able to come back under green-flag conditions.
“People want to point to who’s leading, who’s not leading, what could have happened, what didn’t happen. I know it’s hard to believe for some folks, we don’t think about that. We look at the circumstances of the incident. We’ve got to make that call - just like a 99 mph fastball. The umpire can't think about it for a couple minutes. We’re not always going to be right. We know with each decision we open it up for debate. That’s sports. We’ll talk to Carl and the competitors about that but did like seeing us being able to finish under green."