A major crash with 21 laps in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 took out a number of cars, and the drivers are already making it clear how unhappy they are that NASCAR did not bring out the red flag earlier.
The final race of the Cup Series regular season had already been postponed from Saturday night to Sunday morning, and the rain began to come out late as drivers tried to make the final push to the playoffs. The rain started to come down, and as it did, the front of the field spun out as it lost traction on the wet tracks. Then, the red flag was brought out.
During the red flag period, drivers called out NASCAR for not getting the drivers off the track earlier.
“And it was still raining and we all went to one and it was really rainy so they had about a whole lap to call a caution and tore up a lot of race cars,” Justin Haley, who was running up front at the time of the crash, said, according to NBC’s Dustin Long. “So that was pretty unacceptable.
“I don’t get it. I mean my spotter said it was raining, it was raining on my windshield for a good bit and then we lost. We literally all lost traction. The tires did not meet the road anymore. It was wet. When we’re running 200 miles per hour, you can’t do that.”
Austin Dillon emerged from the race unscathed, and if the race is ended early due to the weather, he would be named the race’s winner.
Several other drivers joined Haley in calling out NASCAR, with Hamlin saying the race needs “better officiating” and that the officials “should have called us down the front,” according to Fox Sports' Bob Pockrass.
Daniel Suarez wondered why NASCAR didn’t call the race earlier when they could see the rain was coming in. He said he didn’t believe it was right for NASCAR to put the drivers in that position to keep racing when they had the technology to see the rain coming.
“We know the rain is coming. I mean it’s raining next door. So it was just a matter of time. Why wait for that? I don’t know,” Suarez said.
MORE: Daytona weather updates
Senior vice president of competition Scott Miller told the CNBC broadcast he didn’t believe NASCAR could have done anything different.
“We were on top of the weather monitoring it with all of our turn spotters, in touch with the spotters up top, the pace car and we had all the information that we thought,” Miller said. “We’d been dodging a little bit of weather obviously for a little while, nothing had hit and all of a sudden, there was that shower that I guess the pace car was sitting down there on the inside. It was still dry when they wrecked, if you watched the end car, you could see that some rain definitely started right before they wrecked, but we really couldn’t do anything about that and it’s not something that you can predict when it’s going to start raining so just a super bad situation for everybody.”
Aric Almirola’s spotter, Joel Edmonds, weighed in on Twitter, calling out Miller’s comments and saying it had already started to rain on the spotter’s stand on turn four and the storm was coming from the first turn.
it rained on the spotters stand from the time the pack came off of turn four untill they all crashed. but we are outside on the roof not sitting inside in ac or under any sorta shelter. the storm was comin from turn 1 I was screaming it was raining to my guy.— Joel Edmonds (@FishingSpotter) August 28, 2022
NASCAR is still holding out hope this race can be finished at a checkered flag rather than the red flag.