NASCAR: Running order was radioed late at RIR
By David Caraviello, NASCAR.COM
May 02, 2012 10:54 AM, EDT
CONCORD, N.C. -- The message NASCAR sent over the radio with 81 laps remaining at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night was a clear one: 14, 99.
Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president for competition, said Tuesday that the order of restart -- with Tony Stewart first and Carl Edwards second -- was announced over the radio prior to a pivotal restart that led to a penalty on Edwards. The Roush Fenway driver thought he was in the lead and in NASCAR's view jumped the start, leading to a pass-through penalty that sent him to 15th place.
We work with the crew chiefs, and if the crew chief thought there was something, he would have radioed up. But multiple times during that last lap, it was repeated: 14, 99. From more than one source.
-- ROBIN PEMBERTON
Afterward, Edwards said he was told over the radio by his spotter that he, and not Stewart, was the leader. But Pemberton said there shouldn't have been any confusion.
"The confusion was on their part, and that's something they have to work on in their communications," Pemberton said at Charlotte Motor Speedway during an event to promote the May 19 Sprint All-Star Race. "We work with the crew chiefs, and if the crew chief thought there was something, he would have radioed up. But multiple times during that last lap, it was repeated: 14, 99. From more than one source."
In NASCAR's view, Edwards drew a penalty regardless of his position for jumping the start. Larry McReynolds, a television analyst who called the race for Fox Sports and like Pemberton is a former crew chief in NASCAR's premier series, could understand why.
"I knew when Carl went there it was a penalty, because they were not even to the restart box. It was kind of a moot point," McReynolds said. "Was he first, was he second, did Tony spin the tires? Because we weren't even to the restart box area, it wouldn't have mattered."
Kyle Busch wound up winning the event, but not before another controversial moment when NASCAR issued a late caution for what Stewart argued was a water bottle. Pemberton said it was his impression that the caution was for a piece of aluminum -- possibly a beer can -- and that the water bottle may have been picked up as crews gathered up any other debris in the area.
But it's the restart penalty on Edwards that has dominated conservation in the days since the race. Matt Kenseth admitted he hasn't seen a replay of the event, but he still wasn't sure how his Roush Fenway teammate could have thought he was the leader.
"If there's a guy in front of you, and he's right behind the pace car, and you're right behind that guy -- I would think it would be kind of obvious when you go one to go and you double up," Kenseth said. "So I don't really know where the confusion was. I don't understand where he thought he was running .... I don't understand any of that, because I haven't seen it. So I don't really understand any of that. It seems like it would be kind of easy to figure out once the wave-around cars go around and there's a car in front of you. But I don't know."
Had Edwards' crew chief Bob Osborne had a question about the running order, Pemberton added, he would have consulted the NASCAR official in his pit box. Did that happen? "No," Pemberton said, "because I think he knew they were second."