Controversy at Richmond — Who is at Fault?

[media-credit name=”Brad Keppel” align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]What happened at Richmond on Saturday night was typical when circumstances get out of control. Why? It’s pretty obvious. Let’s forget for a second how the race played out. The top two drivers were Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards. After a caution, they were lined up alongside each other. Everyone assumed that Stewart was the leader including NASCAR. Trouble was NASCAR officials as well as the track python showed Edwards as the leader, according to various sources. NASCAR official Robin Pemberton said it has a lot to do with electronics. Edwards had been scuffing his tires and the pylon showed him the leader, so the scoreboard was erroneous. Interesting.

I’ve attended hundreds of races over the last 40 years. I can tell you that once in those years have I seen a scoring python change over cars moving to warm tires during cautions. Never. It may have happened, but never on my watch. The confusion from the official who supposedly told both spotters that saying that Edwards was the leader to the so-called electronics that put Edwards as the leader has to be investigated. Would a caution or a re-start been more appropriate? Not being a rules guru, but knowing what I’ve seen, bad starts have always been stopped with a caution. Some say that since it was the second place car (with the driver not knowing it), is a different situation, but I don’t know. If an official tells you that you are in the lead, you’re going to go for it. Misinformation is a terrible thing. Why doesn’t NASCAR have a plan to let drivers know who is the leader?

Compounding the problem was that no one, from the driver to the crew chief to apparently the track really knew what was going on. That troubles me. Given that information, shouldn’t the respective teams been given official information? Also, given the information Carl was given, shouldn’t have someone not been asleep at the switch to correct things? It’s a mess and I hope it doesn’t decide the title come November. I don’t for a minute think that Carl Edwards would have won that race, but one thing you cannot predict is events that happen later after a call NASCAR dropped the ball in this case,

One more thing. The final caution will forever be considered a makeup for that call. I don’t believe that. And yet, the damage is done. Kyle Busch is the winner and Carl Edwards finished tenth. If we had boring races the last few weeks, this evens the score somewhat. And yet, some weaknesses in the system have been exposed and it’s up to NASCAR to correct this. Will they?

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Ron Fleshman
Ron Fleshman
Ron Fleshman has followed NASCAR racing since attending his first race at Martinsville Speedway in 1964. He joined the Motor Sports Forum on the CompuServe network in the 1980s and became a reporter for Racing Information Systems in 1994. In 2002, he was named NASCAR Editor for RIS when it appeared on the World Wide Web as He can now be found at Ron is a member of the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. You can find Ron following and reporting on the top three NASCAR divisions each week. As a lifer in his support of racing, he attends and reports on nearly 30 events a year and as a member of the motor sports media, his passion has been racing for 47 years. He lives with his family in rural West Virginia and works in the insurance industry when not on the road to another track.

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  1. NASCAR started losing me with “The Chase”. I have been watching less and less. Now it’s to the point that if I have something to do or miss the race, it’s no big deal. That would never have been the case 10 years ago. Races meant something. Get rid of the top 35, let crew chiefs be inventive, get rid of the chase, go back to more smaller tracks(couple of dirt races would be cool) and bring back the old point system and maybe I’ll go to a race and start watching again.

  2. NA$CAR goes green. Whoopee!! Extension cord breaks on pacecar, lights go off. Go Figure

    They are so green that they must save the life of a water bottle on the track and throw a caution. Ahh, maybe they knew the race was pretty boring. Think so?

    Then there’s the typical NA$CAR rule changing, (better known as running the race to suit them) They need to hire people from WOO as their officials. They know how to get it done.

    You notice that NA$CAR always has something to CTA? The shills, Pemberton, Darby and Helton must have a play book for every situation. Just take the money and run.

  3. The nascar screw up with Edwards didn’t lower the boring factor at all with me, I turned the TV off!! Whatever one step lower than suck…. is what nascar does.


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