News & Media

Childress, others upset at way caution flags flew

November 12, 2012, Joe Menzer,

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Car owner Richard Childress did not like the way Sunday's Advocare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway ended.

And it was his driver, Kevin Harvick, who took the checkered flag as the race winner.

Childress wasn't alone, either, in expressing displeasure with NASCAR's decision to hold off throwing a yellow caution flag as Harvick came around to take the white flag that made the race official during a frenzied green-white-checkered finish. The No. 10 Chevrolet of driver Danica Patrick was limping down the frontstretch at the time after having spun coming off Turn 4 even before Harvick took the white flag.

"I just knew the caution was going to come out. And he [Harvick] races back around and almost wrecks and we lose a car [in Menard's] and could have hurt a driver."


Several drivers complained that it should have been obvious to NASCAR officials that the frontstretch was covered in oil laid down by Patrick's stricken machine as she attempted to get to pit road. Instead, the race remained green and several cars slipped and slided and wrecked as they came back around to the start-finish line -- including Harvick's Richard Childress Racing teammate Paul Menard, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch and Mark Martin.

* Final Laps: Harvick wins after eventful G-W-C finish

"There was more oil than there was asphalt, I can guarantee you that, and it was very visible," Harvick said.

Childress added: "I'm really disappointed in the way the race was called. ... Kevin almost wrecked coming off of 4 [on the final lap]. We take the white flag, she's coming down there, everybody could see what was happening.

"I just knew the caution was going to come out. And he [Harvick] races back around and almost wrecks and we lose a car [in Menard's] and could have hurt a driver. So I'm just still a little upset about that last [lap] not being run under caution."

Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, defended the decision not to throw the caution.

"She came all the way around there and she was out of harm's way," Pemberton said of Patrick. "We didn't see any fluid or anything, she rode around on the apron, and when she pulled up on the race track, there was smoke. It looked like tire smoke. It's easy to look back on it obviously and wish that you did something different. But at the time it didn't appear like there was any fluid that was coming out of the car."

Patrick was clearly not completely out of harm's way, obviously, because she ended up getting plowed into by the onrushing cars that hit the oil and started sliding around at high speeds.

"[The car] was on fire, I think, and I was trying to get across the line," Patrick said. "I was literally trying to drive into the wall, then drive it along there because I couldn't see. I don't know exactly what happened. I heard there might have been oil from me, or something. If so, I definitely wasn't intending to make a mess."

Childress, however, insisted that the biggest mess at the end could have been avoided. Earlier, he had challenged NASCAR's decision to throw a yellow flag when Harvick was within "about five feet" of reaching the start-finish line to take the white flag during the regularly-scheduled portion of the race, which would have ended the race at that point. Harvick said he knew he hadn't reached the start-finish line then, though, and Childress later relented on that claim after seeing the television replay.

But Childress was not backing off of his second complaint. Among other issues, he didn't like having another one of his race cars torn up from what he saw as a reluctance on NASCAR's part to throw the yellow flag on the final lap of the green-white-checkered finish.

"We wrecked eight cars this weekend," he said.