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The Backstretch Blog: The night the lights came on in Bristol

By Heather Williams, hwilliams@kwch.com
Published On: Mar 17 2014 08:55:10 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 17 2014 08:50:00 PM CDT

NASCAR via Getty Images

It wasn’t the strangest thing I’ve ever seen on the track. I mean Juan Pablo Montoya hit a jet drier and then there was the guy that ran on to the track and asked Matt Kenseth for an autograph under a red flag. But the caution lights coming on and no one knowing why is up there.

NASCAR says human error was to blame.

“It appears that in the flag stand one of the flag people had leaned on the switch that is the manual override for the caution lights, and so that happened,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development.

The NASCAR conspiracy theories immediately came out of the wood works. Honestly I don’t know what they thought could be gained by the phantom caution, and since it started raining almost immediately afterward, ultimately nothing was gained.

“There are two very happy people in this room right now,” said Pemberton. “And the next one will be up here in a second when you turn me loose.”

It’s not like Edwards didn’t have a strong car. There have certainly been lesser cars to win races because of circumstance and strategy. And yes NASCAR dodged a bullet with the rain coming. But if things happened the way Pemberton said, what can you do? Everyone makes mistakes.

“As a sport they make a lot of tough calls,” said race winner Carl Edwards. “We all do a lot of things where there's a lot of room for mistakes, and so the outcome worked out for me, but even if it hadn't, I'm glad to be part of something where they just say, hey, we screwed up.”

And second place finisher Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. said it probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway.

 “As soon as whatever the caution was for came out, it didn't matter,” said Stenhouse. “We weren't going to get to Carl no matter what.  So really it was only going to help us have the opportunity to get that one more spot.”

So while others go searching the NASCAR Area 51 for all the secret reasons the caution was ‘really’ thrown. I’m going to let this one go. Are there moments where I think there is something fishy going on, yes. But this is was not one of those moments.

The light s came on accidently. It happens.

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