Some drivers critical of NASCAR for not calling caution for rain
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Denny Hamlin was among those who criticized NASCAR for not calling a caution for rain before several cars lost traction and wrecked Sunday at Daytona International Speedway.
The race was stopped after 139 of 160 laps when 13 cars were collected in a crash as the field slid through Turn 1 and bounced off each other.
Hamlin was leading when he lost traction and took several hard hits.
Asked what could be done to avoid a situation like that, Hamlin said: “Better officiating, that’s all we can do … we’ll learn from this, I’m sure.”
Hamlin said it was raining on the front stretch on that lap.
Justin Haley, also collected in the incident, said the caution should have been called sooner.
“They had about a whole lap to call a caution and tore up a lot of race cars,” Haley said. “That was pretty unacceptable.”
Kyle Busch told NBC Sports’ Parker Kligerman that he didn’t see any rain the previous lap.
“That lap … it just dropped,” Busch said. “What do you do? You can’t check up that fast. You’ve just got to try to drive through it. Thankfully, I was on the high side. I saw water and saw everything and everybody wrecking in front of me.”
Tyler Reddick told NBC Sports’ Dave Burns that he wrecked just seconds after he noticed the rain.
Daniel Suarez, also eliminated in the crash, said NASCAR should have reacted sooner.
“We knew the rain was coming,” Suarez said. “It was raining next door. It’s just a matter of time. Why wait for it? I don’t know. I’m a little biased because I was in the front.”
Asked about a calling a caution sooner, Suarez said: “They have a lot of technology up there (in the officials’ booth) to know it is very, very close. If it’s very, very close, I don’t think they should put us in those positions.”
Chris Buescher also was involved in the incident and was not happy about the circumstances.
“We were definitely in a good spot and it was raining when we got to Turn 1 and we all wiped out,” he said. “We wiped out all the lead cars, so whoever wins this race wasn’t even in contention. It’s just ridiculous from my point of view.”
Said Todd Gilliland: “Track conditions seemed fine, I guess, up until they weren’t right there. I was obviously at the back of that pack. I’ve never seen everyone spin out that quick, so I guess the track was probably pretty wet.”
Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, told NBC Sports: “We were on top of the weather, monitoring with all of our turn spotters, in touch with the spotters up top, the pace car. We had all the information that we thought. We had been dodging a little bit of weather, obviously, for a little while. Nothing had hit. All of a sudden there was that shower.
“The pace car, sitting down there on the inside, it was still dry when they wrecked. If you watch the in-car (camera), you can see that some rain definitely started right before they wrecked. We really couldn’t do anything about that, and it was not something that you can predict when it is going to start raining.
“Just a super-bad situation for everybody.”
Hamlin said he took a hard impact in the incident.
“My whole body, literally my jaw hurts,” Hamlin said. “I feel like my jaw was one of those boxers who gets his whole face demolished. That was certainly the first real big one I’ve had in this car. Everything they’ve been telling us (about the impacts), all the other drivers, it’s true.”