HAMPTON, GA. — No one ever wants to see a NASCAR Cup Series race end under caution, especially when rain is a factor.
That happened Sunday night after 185 laps in the Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Fans on social media argued the sanctioning body called the race too soon with William Byron as the winner. Others argued NASCAR ran too many laps under caution.
Here’s a breakdown of what happened and why it did.
After Ryan Preece and Bubba Wallace spun in turn four on lap 177, NASCAR routinely closed pit road and checked the area.
Then, on the officials’ radio, there were indications they were ready to proceed under quickie yellow procedures given the nature of the caution and the looming rain.
A quickie yellow gives all drivers a chance to pit and speeds up a caution where lap cars and lead-lap cars pit together.
As the field completed the second caution lap, spotters reported light rain in turn one. Officials held off on a call and didn’t officially call one lap to green.
Pits remained closed as the rain continued, waiting for it to possibly go away.
In the regular season finale last August in Daytona, NASCAR came under fire for a wreck in the rain that took out several playoff hopefuls. At that time, there was no rain anywhere on the track except for turn one where the wreck happened.
On Sunday at Atlanta, NASCAR kept the race under caution as light rain persisted in turn one.
Eventually, as it spread to the backstretch and turn three, NASCAR brought the cars to pit road.
Then, the rain picked up and NASCAR called the race with Byron as the winner.
Throughout the race and especially after halfway, everyone knew rain hitting would likely end the race. The storm was large and packed severe weather and rain that would’ve required extensive track drying time.
With seven races left in the regular season, NASCAR also didn’t face pressure to restart the race and give playoff hopefuls one last chance to get an elusive win, unlike the regular season finale last August.
Everyone knew what was at stake, especially on a Sunday night with more limited time.
While William Byron will go home smiling, Daniel Suarez, A.J. Allmendinger, Michael McDowell, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, J.J. Yeley, Justin Haley, Ryan Blaney and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will go home with a top-10 finish and thoughts about what could’ve possibly gone differently to have won Sunday night.