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NASCAR explains why no caution for incident between Michael McDowell, William Byron

A senior NASCAR official explained Tuesday why the sanctioning body did not throw a caution for an incident between Michael McDowell and William Byron during last weekend’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

McDowell and Byron made contact after entering pit lane on the apron in Turn 3. The incident occurred on Lap 135 in the middle of a green flag pit cycle.

Both cars spun. McDowell remained on the apron. Byron’s car also was on the apron, just below the double white lines that signify the out-of-bounds mark for cars on track. Both McDowell and Byron continued.

Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, explained Tuesday on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio why officials did not throw a caution flag for that incident.

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NASCAR: Ambetter Health 400

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“They make contact,” Sawyer said. “They both spun. Very quickly they’re going in the right direction. We’re in a situation where we’re having, obviously, green flag pit stops.

“So, we’re going to do everything we can, unless it presents a safety issue, to stay green, if we can, because throwing a caution at that point in time has a lot of negative consequences … It can ruin someone’s race if we throw a caution, they get trapped a couple of laps down, can’t get those laps back.

“So we really try to stay out of that if we can. But if there’s a situation where there’s a driver in danger, we’re going to throw (the caution flag). In this case, (McDowell) and (Byron) were able to continue, so we were able to stay green.”

Typically cars enter pit road off Turn 4, but they do so entering Turn 3 at Atlanta. That’s because the angle off Turn 4 to pit road and the likelihood of a tight pack would create a safety issue with cars entering pit road there.

Entering pit lane in Turn 3, though, extends the time drivers are at a pit road speed and were likely to lose one to two laps pitting under green flag conditions.

McDowell finished eighth. Byron placed 17th.