INDIANAPOLIS — Sometimes the umpire makes a bad call. Other times the official blows the whistle prematurely or misses a blatant foul or penalty. It happens. Officials are humans too. The thing is you don’t typically go through a playoff run with officiating being the common story. It is however in NASCAR.
That needs to change.
Between the tough decision at Daytona for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 to where it literally rained on the pack in Turn 1. Then to Denny Hamlin being purposely spun under caution by William Byron last Sunday at Texas and Ty Gibbs nearly running Ty Dillon into pit crews servicing pit stops and NASCAR seeing none of the above, it means something needs to happen better.
It needs to happen soon.
“I have to be honest with you. When we were in the tower, we were paying more attention to the actual cause of the caution up there and dispatching our equipment,” said Scott Miller, Senior Vice President of Competition on Sunday night when addressing the Byron and Hamlin situation.
“The William Byron-Denny Hamlin thing we had no eyes on. We saw Denny go through the grass. By the time we got to a replay that showed the incident well enough to do anything to it, we had gone back to green.
“I’m not sure that issue is completely resolved as of yet. We’ll be looking at that when we get back to work.”
Elton Sawyer said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Monday that it wasn’t like they purposely turned the blind eye at Byron spinning Hamlin. He said it’s a long process that has to be quick once the caution is displayed.
The first have to bring the safety vehicles to the track and get to the scene of the accident and do so without interference from the race cars on track too. Once the safety team is there, they have to be sure the driver is okay. They also have to be sure they get the cars properly lined up on track and update timing and scoring. They then have to get prepared for upcoming pit stops.
Between all of this, it’s a lot and easy to miss an on-track incident under caution.
As far as what they can do better next time to ensure they don’t miss that incident in the future?
“Well, so we don’t have the cameras and — the cameras and the monitors that we’ve got, we dedicate them mostly to officiating, seeing our safety vehicles, how to dispatch them, all that,” he says. “By the time we put all those cameras up, we don’t have room for all of the in-car cameras to be monitored.
“If we would have had immediate access to the 24 in-car camera, that would have helped us a lot with being able to find that quickly. That’s definitely one of the things that we’re looking at.”
That’s all nice and all, but this has to come to a stop and you can’t have officiating stealing the show.
“So if we had seen that good enough to react to it real-time, which we should have, like no excuse there, there would probably have been two courses of action: one would have been to put Hamlin back where he was, and the other would be to have made William start in the back,” Miller says.
That type of statement can’t happen in a playoff race. When you have tires blowing the way that they are and cars catching on fire spontaneously the way that they are, it’s too much. It’s time to turn the onus back on the on track product…