NASCAR knows it has to do better.
After a night of gaffes at Richmond — an ambulance blocking the pit, a caution called too quickly — NASCAR is redoubling its efforts to make sure things go smoothly when the Cup series playoffs start this weekend.
“We had a rough night ourselves in race control and that certainly put a damper on the night for us, and I think, luckily, we were able to see the same 16 guys on the Monster Energy Series make it through, but tough night for the guys up in race control,’’ Steve O’Donnell, the executive vice president and chief racing development officer for NASCAR, said Monday on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
His remarks were reported in several media outlets, including NBC Sports.
O’Donnell focused on two huge errors.
A wreck between Danica Patrick and Austin Dillon caused the ambulance to make its way on the track, but the ambulance wasn’t supposed to be there when the drivers made their way back around. It caused a wreck between two drivers attempting to make the playoffs.
Matt Kenseth didn’t see the ambulance, and he ran into the back of Clint Bowyer’s car. Kenseth’s radiator was damaged, and the front end of Bowyer’s car was damaged.
“Unfortunately, there were multiple communications with the ambulance and it just didn’t happen,” O’Donnell said on the broadcast. “It stopped at a really bad place. Ultimately, that is on us. We have a lot of folks who work hard at the race track, but we’ve got to do a better job of communicating. If we go back and look at it, could we have thrown the red light on the pits (to close pit road) or would that even have been worse with cars coming down, that’s something we’ve got to look at.’’
He also acknowledged that it was “fair” that Martin Truex Jr. was angry about the race’s outcome. A late caution caused the race to go into overtime and Truex — who was on his way to victory — wrecked.