Yup, bizarre is about the only way to put it.
Reed Sorenson won after a caution flag flew on the third attempt at a green-white-checker restart in the Nationwide Series Bucyrus 200 at Road America on Saturday.
Michael McDowell, driving the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18, dominated the majority of the race and was leading when the caution flag flew with four laps to go.
From there we'll go sequentially, because there's no other way to attempt to explain the craziness that ensued at the four-mile road course:
1. On the first attempt at the green-white-checker, Jacques Villeneuve got into Brian Scott and collected Max Papis, sending Scott spinning and Papis into the wall. That brought out another caution. McDowell, who led the field to the green, was still the leader.
2. As the field took the green flag for the second attempt, McDowell led going into Turn 1 again. Justin Allgaier, who had snuck into second place, got alongside of McDowell as the two entered Turn 6 and McDowell overdrove the corner, allowing Allgaier to sneak by.
After being passed, McDowell then overdrove the car again to try to get around Allgaier and spun himself in the grass. Simultaneously, Steve Wallace was doing some overdriving himself, and took out a bunch of cars. The caution flag waved.
Because teams tend to work fuel mileage backwards at road courses, the third green-white checker attempt meant that many teams were very close on fuel. This is important as we move on to the final restart.
3. Allgaier led the field to green on the final restart and pulled away from his teammate Reed Sorenson. Back in the pack, more contact ensued and Aric Almirola got stuck in a gravel trap. After it was apparent that Almirola wasn't going to get out of the gravel trap, NASCAR waited to throw the caution until Allgaier took the white flag, making the race official.
But Allgaier was one of the many that was close on fuel. For the race to be official, he needed to make it back to the start/finish line.
4. After the final caution flag flew, Allgaier ran out of gas. Sorenson, who stayed in second, slowed down after officials on the side of the track waved the yellow flag. Ron Fellows, who was in third, didn't slow and passed Sorenson. When the pace car emerged, it picked up Fellows, who appeared to be the race leader and potential winner.
Allgaier, because he didn't maintain a "reasonable speed", saw his win slip away. After the pace car came out on the track, Sorenson caught up to Fellows and the two stayed side-by-side as they took the checkered flag. After a short period, NASCAR declared Sorenson the winner of the race.
Got all that?
Kudos to NASCAR for taking the time to make the right call in giving Sorenson the win in an incident that seemed reminiscent of Robby Gordon at Montreal. Video replays clearly showed that Sorenson slowed down after the caution came out, and that by not slowing down Fellows passed Sorenson after the yellow was displayed. While it initially appeared that Fellows was going to be the winner, it was clear that Sorenson, who hadn't won a NASCAR race at any level since 2007, was the rightful winner.
Carl Edwards, who won the inaugural race at Road America last year, made a last-minute decision not to make the trek from Sonoma for Saturday's Nationwide race. Billy Johnson, who practiced the car on Friday, raced in Edwards' place, but was forced to retire with engine trouble.
- Reed Sorenson
- Justin Allgaier
- Michael McDowell
- caution flag