During Friday night's Nationwide race at Charlotte, NASCAR penalized Brian Scott and the No. 09 team for not fastening all of the lugnuts on a green-flag pit stop. But when Scott came down pit road to serve the penalty, all the lugnuts were on the wheel.
Since Scott had lost a lap because the race stayed green, NASCAR threw a caution to correct the scoring and give Scott back his place on the track. That decision didn't sit well with Kevin Harvick, who felt that the caution cost his team a chance for a win. (Maybe Harvick was mad that Scott's team didn't screw up? Harvick's pit crew cost him numerous places last week at California)
“I’ve never seen such a thing in my whole life,” said Harvick, who pitted later in the race and wound up 10th. “That’s like stopping the game in the middle of a play and saying, ‘We’re going to start over.’ It’s hard to play strategy anymore.
“Us and the 22 [of Keselowski] were on the same cycle. We would have at least been close [to winning], but we had the ghost caution.”
At a race two years ago, Harvick said he was missed on a scoring loop when the caution came out and was not scored correctly.
“They patted us on the shoulders and said, ‘Man, gee, we’re sorry guys. Thanks for playing,’” Harvick said.
Harvick ended up finishing 10th, though the call to take four tires during a late caution might have cost his team a chance at victory more than the 'ghost' caution did.
In a postseason of umpiring blunders for Major League Baseball, you've got to give NASCAR some credit for admitting that the call was incorrect and giving Scott his position back. However, that's a double edged sword. The call -- while not unprecedented -- jumbled up the field and changes the whole complexion of the race. (And yes, it can be pointed out that this may not be much different than the 'mystery' debris caution that Clint Bowyer said NASCAR threw in last Sunday's Sprint Cup race)
“We’ve tried to correct those calls in the past,” NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said. “We’re lucky that a lot of times that doesn’t happen. It’s not the first time we’ve fixed a call like that and even though I hope it’s the last time, it probably won’t be. It’s a human error.
“It’s a tough thing to balance out, and it’s not something that makes everyone happy. But for sure there was a mistake made. The way to correct that mistake was to throw the caution and to give that team the opportunity to get the lap back that we took from them.”
What say you? Should NASCAR be proactive in correcting mistakes even if it means throwing a caution? Or much like a non-reviewable call in baseball or football, does the team that the mistake penalizes be forced to live the with the consequences?