Human error to blame for late caution at Bristol; Edwards wins

Carl Edwards does his famous backflip after winning at Bristol. Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
A thrilling last-lap pass is what fans wish for when they visit Bristol Motor Speedway. On Sunday evening, their hopes were dashed when the race ended under caution.

NASCAR along with teams, fans and media were perplexed when the caution lights came on without warning. The race would have no doubt ended with a victory for the No. 99 as rain also began falling at the same time. The reason for the caution was first revealed to be a malfunctioning light which forced a “full field caution as the operation of those lights became compromised.”

Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, later admitted the caution was caused by human error when a flagman accidentally leaned on the manual override in the flag stand.

“We learn a lot of lessons, and when we learn a lesson like this we'll go in and further investigate some things," Pemberton said. "As you know, all the electronics that we've had and have installed in the trailers for freeze the field and all these other things, there's still -- you still have to integrate into the track facilities, so there's probably some things that we needed to do to better secure that area where the manual override is on the lights."

Carl Edwards was OK with how things ended, saying in the media center, “I think it says a lot about the leadership of our sport ....We all do a lot of things where there's a lot of room for mistakes, and so the outcome worked out great for me; but even if it hadn't, I'm glad to be part of something where they just say, 'Hey, we screwed up.'"

Rain was the other big story of the day. Delaying the start by two hours, NASCAR had a plan in place to run the race Monday in the event of a rain-out. Fortunately, Mother Nature decided to play nice for a while and 124 laps were run before rain halted competition for three hours and 18 minutes.

When racing resumed, it appeared Joe Gibbs Racing would continue to dominate. Matt Kenseth, who was leading when the red flag came out for rain, got rear-ended by Rookie of the Year contender Timmy Hill when Hill failed to slow down during a caution. Hill sustained significant damage to his unsponsored ride while Kenseth was able to continue. Teammate Kyle Busch led 73 laps, but finished 29th after bringing out the ninth caution of the night. Pole-sitter Denny Hamlin finished sixth.

It was a good night for Tony Stewart. Having to use a past champion's provisional to get into the race, Stewart finished in the fourth position, calling it a win.

Underdogs Ricky Stenhouse Jr.and Aric Almirola finished second and third to the Edwards.

“It helps our confidence for sure. It’s been nice working with Mike (Kelly – crew chief) and the guys again. We’re having a lot of fun. We’re just slowly working getting better and better,” said Stenhouse Jr. on his highest career finish in the Sprint Cup Series

Final running order: 
  1. Edwards 
  2. Stenhouse Jr. 
  3. Almirola
  4. Stewart
  5. Ambrose
  6. Hamlin
  7. Gordon
  8. Kahne
  9. Vickers
  10. Larson
  11. Dillon
  12. Biffle
  13. Kenseth
  14. Keselowski
  15. Bowyer
  16. Newman
  17. Allgaier
  18. Patrick
  19. Johnson
  20. Logano
  21. Menard
  22. Gilliland
  23. Wise 
  24. Earnhardt Jr.
  25. Allmendinger
  26. Annett
  27. Mears
  28. Sorenson
  29. Kyle Busch
  30. Cassill
  31. Ragan
  32. Bowman
  33. Kvapil
  34. Kligerman
  35. Kurt Busch
  36. Truex Jr.
  37. McDowell
  38. McMurray
  39. Harvick
  40. Whitt
  41. Nemechek
  42. RyanTruex
  43. Hill
Human error to blame for late caution at Bristol; Edwards wins Human error to blame for late caution at Bristol; Edwards wins Reviewed by Katy Lindamood on Monday, March 17, 2014 Rating: 5