According to NASCAR Vice President of Competition and Racing Development Robin Pemberton, human error was to blame for the mysterious caution that came out with two-and-a-half laps remaining in Sunday night’s Food City 500 at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway. Specifically, someone in the flag stand leaned against the switch.
“After review of the situation post-race, what had happened in the closing laps of the race, it appears that in the flag stand one of the flag people had leaned on the switch that is the manual override for the caution lights, and so that happened,” Pemberton said. “We’ve got times here, but anyway, that happened, and at that time when the flag stand realized that the caution lights were illuminated, the flag man threw the flag, and then after that happened we froze the field from the tower.
“It appears that in, not all, but most of the flag stands have a manual override for the caution lights, and due to the weather and due to other things, there’s an area that it couldn’t have been — it wasn’t secured properly, and the flag person leaned against the switch and turned the caution lights on. We tried to turn them off, and we realized that the override switch was on and they were hung on caution. It was a stupid error.”
The race was scheduled for a 1:13 p.m. ET start on Sunday, but was delayed by about an hour-and-45-minutes for rain. Once the track was dried, 124 of the 500-scheduled laps were completed before rains returned, red-flagging the race. After another delay of about three hours, the race was resumed. An green-flag-checkered attempt to end the race under green would have been made after the erroneous caution, but rain returned as competitors and NASCAR tried to figure out what triggered the caution lights to come on.
Carl Edwards won the race, while Roush Fenway Racing teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was second. Aric Almirola, Tony Stewart and Marcos Ambrose rounded out the top-five.