NASCAR defends controversial Indianapolis final caution decision

The NASCAR Cup Series has defended ending the Brickyard 400 in overtime, after a race that took over six hours to complete and had 14 cautions

NASCAR defends controversial Indianapolis final caution decision

Hendrick Motorsport's Kasey Kahne won his first race in almost three years at Indianapolis but was controversially declared the winner in overtime following a delayed caution on the 166th lap.

NASCAR rules state that a clean overtime lap is required to declare a win under green flag conditions, and further cautions will deem an attempt invalid and require a further attempt.

With the race edging towards darkness, and having reached a record amount of cautions, there was speculation that NASCAR officials had waited for Kahne to cross the overtime line before flagging, to bring the race to an end.

Those claims were denied by NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O'Donnell.

"What we have always said and we have always been consistent in is [that] we're going to make every attempt to finish the race under green and to do that you have to see what happens with an incident," he said.

"Once we decided to throw the caution, when we wanted to dispatch emergency equipment, we also knew that there was oil on the race track.

"We threw the caution and ultimately that's the end of the race."

O'Donnell also refuted claims that fading light played a role in the decision to end the race.

"It didn't," he said, "but we would not have been able to restart that race.

"There was oil down, it would have been another red flag.

"The last couple of red flags were 15-20 minutes with oil so we were up against it as well."

NASCAR will evaluate whether it needs to change the overtime line rule for 2018, with O'Donnell adding it is being considered.

"We've talked about the potential to move it to the start/finish line in 2018 but we've been very clear on the rules," he said.

"Once the leader crosses the overtime line and the caution comes out, the race is over."

Autosport says

Jim Utter, Motorsport.com NASCAR Editor @jim_utter

It's time NASCAR ended an experiment that has proven to be an abysmal failure.

That is exactly what utilising the overtime line - or green-white-checkered finish or any other scheme to extend the length of a race - has become.

Of course, NASCAR's stated goal is a laudable one - to ensure a green-flag finish.

But that statement assumes that every race is supposed to end that way and anyone who has spent any time following motorsport knows that's not the case.

So, any method created for the sole purpose of ensuring a green-flag finish is done so to orchestrate the finish of a race in a way other than how it would naturally play out.

Sunday's Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the final straw for me.

If the objective is to allow the race to play out to its natural conclusion, then why have the overtime rule (or any other similar scheme) in the first place?

And why proclaim the idea that there can be 'unlimited overtimes' if your intention is to try to make each one the last one?

I don't for one minute believe NASCAR officials sit in race control trying to find a way to manipulate the result of a race for a specific purpose.

There is no simple solution here because there are always some who believe they are entitled to see a specific result - a green-flag finish.

But there is one solution that comes as close to having a race play out to its natural conclusion - ending the race at its advertised distance.

That idea worked for NASCAR for almost 60 years. It's clear what we have now simply doesn't.

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Hendrick driver Kasey Kahne wins eventful Indianapolis NASCAR race
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