Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Faces Second Straight Week of Questionable Safety Calls

For the second week in a row, NASCAR had to answer questions about its safety procedures during a race, this time after the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28.

Trey Hutchens III’s truck slowed on the racetrack and came to a near stop on the frontstretch in the closing laps. However, the caution wasn’t waved, even as Matt Crafton’s vehicle was simultaneously smoking its way down pit lane (NASCAR was monitoring this and had not yet made a call to throw the yellow). Johnny Sauter came around while racing with Drew Dollar and didn’t see Hutchens sitting on the frontstretch, violently crashing into the back of the No. 14. Sauter’s truck also hit Dollar, though Dollar was able to continue after the wreck.

Thankfully both Hutchens and Sauter were OK, but this does leave some questions about the whole ordeal. Why was the caution not out when he was slowing on the track? NASCAR answered this, noting at first that officials were looking at Crafton’s truck to see if there was any oil that they would need to clean up on the track, and once they saw the crash, they put out the caution.

“Obviously, the caution was slow in coming. There’s no question about that,” NASCAR Vice President of Competition Scott Miller said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We’ve had our internal debrief, obviously, that night; the next day before the Xfinity race. A few things played into that. No excuses.”

Miller also explained that the turn spotter saw Hutchens’ truck but “thought he made it to pit road before (Hutchens) made it outside of (the turn spotter’s) view. Kind of perfect storm there a little bit. No excuse again, but the paint job on the 14 was a super dark purple and the (truck) got up against the wall. Our flagman didn’t see it sitting there. And it led to a very, very unfortunate, unfortunate accident.

“A lot of things stacked up right there. Caution should have been out, not denying that. A lot of things led to that.”

While that’s definitely an issue, things happened so quickly from Hutchens stopping on the frontstretch to Sauter slamming into him. Who knows now whether there would have been enough time for Sauter to get slowed down enough to see the No. 14 if the caution came out right away?

Another question I have is why did it take so long for a safety team member to reach Sauter? His window net stayed up a long time and NASCAR should have had someone come over right away after Dollar left the area. According to NBC Sports, it took about a minute and a half to get to the No. 13 truck, about 30 seconds after Sauter put his window net down. That’s a concerning amount of time and definitely should be addressed for future races, especially those run at night.

Miller discussed the response time while on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

“Responding to two incidents is always tricky when we’re trying to get the field captured and all that,” Miller told the station. “We could have also done a better job there. Got to the 14 in plenty of time. The 13 (Sauter’s truck), the response time probably wasn’t 100% of what it should have been, but there’s a lot of mechanics and a lot of moving parts in getting all that done. Every time we have one of these, we learn how to do things better.”

Like I said above, all they needed to have was two sets of safety vehicles attending to both drivers. They reached Hutchens quickly. Why didn’t they use the outlet near the end of pit lane, or send a second team out right after the first team? And why wasn’t the race red flagged to help them get to the drivers and clean up the debris? Besides wasting laps, trucks might’ve continued to run over the sheet metal and other debris scattered across the track.

This is the second week that a questionable call was made after a significant crash. At Circuit of the Americas, visibility was dismal due to the rain and rooster tails coming off the cars in the Cup Series race. Christopher Bell crashed into Ryan Blaney, and Kevin Harvick didn’t see how far they were ahead of him. He slowed up too early and Bubba Wallace slammed into the back of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing car, appearing to lift it off the ground from Harvick’s on-board camera.

See also
Zach's Turn: Why Did NASCAR Allow Such Dangerous Conditions at COTA?

I was adamant at that time that NASCAR needed to stop the race until they dried the wetter areas. Unfortunately, the race didn’t stop until Martin Truex Jr. ran into the back of Michael McDowell. The No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing car then was rammed by Cole Custer from behind and nearly flipped over. Subsequently, Custer’s car hit the wall and bounced off, catching fire.

NASCAR admitted its fault after this incident as well and realized it should have paused the competition after the first big wreck with Harvick and Wallace. But didn’t NASCAR mention last year in the Xfinity Series event at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL that if visibility got too bad and the track was too wet with too many puddles, it would stop the race? I understand that COTA was a new racetrack but officials needed to listen to drivers’ radios and check out the on-board cameras to see whether conditions were safe to compete in. If they already do that, then that’s great, but it still doesn’t change the fact that Truex and Custer exited the race with destroyed racecars.

After what happened at Charlotte Friday night, though, I believe NASCAR needs to really go over scenarios that have already happened and what might could happen to better prepare itself for those types of incidents. I know the AMR safety crew does a lot for everyone at the racetrack, and I’m sure it is looking to improve after Friday’s slow response time. I just don’t want NASCAR to start displaying a pattern of questionable calls when it comes to safety.

About the author

Joy joined Frontstretch in 2019 as a NASCAR DraftKings writer, expanding to news and iRacing coverage in 2020. She's currently an assistant editor and involved with photos, social media and news editing. A California native, Joy was raised as a motorsports fan and started watching NASCAR extensively in 2001. She earned her B.A. degree in Liberal Studies at California State University Bakersfield in 2010.

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sooner or later these questionable calls will catch up with nascar. they’re very fortunate no one got seriously injured or worse.

Trey B

I agree with Janice. Not enough eyes on the track from NASCAR it appears. I work for one of the biggest power utilities in the US. Generally when accidents start trending up, unfortunately they eventually turn deadly. All trends on the subject show this.

David Fitzgerald

NASCAR has gone stupid in a lot of their decisions in the last year..I used to be a season ticket holder at BMS. BUT I don’t attend them anymore or never will again…and I only watch a race if it’s a short track and there’s NOTHING else on TV interesting at that particular time….all those 1.5 mile cookie cutter tracks KILLED NASCAR TOO !!!

No whiners

This is racing it’s dangerous. People whine too much ,racers included
If you like racing you watch it . So when you complain its only your excuse for not watching or ticket holding anymore . You all should. Ashamed of yourselves! Too many critics or as I see it too many idiots online

Spencer Wilkinson

No whiners, and your last NASCAR race as a driver was when? At the very least NASCAR should pay for the two trucks.

terry brewington

This is the biggest sport without a Union. I believe if the Drivers had a United voice NASCAR wouldn’t take chances with the lives of their competitors.

Tim Healey

The last thing NASCAR needs is a union. Union s are what drove e up ticket prices in every other sport and turned the players into liberal mouthpieces.

NASCAR needs more carnage. Not less. The Cup race at Charlotte was so damn boring. Theme car running in 7th was :14 seconds behind the leaderer! 40 cars playing g follow the leader. BORING!

Stephen Gravelle

Curtis Turner tried that in the 50s

james hayman

NASCAR suck all the car look the same same motor same body style is bullshit


It appears NASCAR is being reactive when it MUST be proactive. NASCAR is allowing unnecessary on track risk while having the attitude to paraphrase “we watch and are learning”. That is a corporate excuse for a lack of action and concern.

If it cost lives to resolve the issue the NASCAR process cost is too high and unnecessary.

NASCAR, no excuses, get this fixed.

Jim Armstrong

NASCAR has issues. We all agree on that. They use to call yellow flags for a rag on the track. They use the yellow for their own benefit when needed it seems. As with these two incidents, Ryan Newmans horrific crash was avoidable as well. I don’t give a crap if it’s the last lap. Cars were wrecking behind the leaders and no yellow? So NASCAR needs “SET RULES PERIOD” for yellow and red flags to be used before someone dies!


Agree 100%

Darryle Goode

They are there to race. Quit crying and race.


nascar was the greatest sport ever till they turned it into a show its not racing ive been to about 100 races now i dont eeven watch it has become dangerous and non appealing to real race fans


I sure do miss the racing in the 80’s and 90’s. I’m all for safety, but they need to give them their HP back and get rid of restrictor plates which will spread them out. The current pack racing formula is far more dangerous. They haven’t slowed down Formula 1 or Indycar. NASCAR should talk to the Indycar people and get some pointers for putting on exciting races that virtually any team could win.


NASCAR has decided to make things better but forgot that everything was ok!! Imagine how ridiculous it’s going to be next year with a single lug nut! You want to make things better; go back to your roots!! Race what you brought on tracks in NC, SC, TN, VA, GA, AL, FL, CA, AZ, NY, PA, & DE! Quit trying to evolve when it’s not necessary!! Safety always has priority!!


NASCAR needs to wake up before they get some one killed or disabled was a big fan for many years now don’t go or watch all the rule changes and the way they don’t care about the driver’s safety is unreal. Seems the France family needs some real leadership.

Roger Martin Sr

I will pray for you mam. You seem by your comments to have a inordinate amount of hate in your soul.

James Torbeck

Im with you on the prayer sir. Wow!!!!. I think Jeff does a great job. As far as Kyle, there always has to be a villain. Rusty, Smoke, and the Dale Sr. Its good for TV
. Considering above commented about not attending races any more
Its even more important to build drama. Yall stay safe out there.

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