|08/29/19||DIBENNEDETTO NASCAR'S ROCKY BALBOA|
|06/26/19||FROM JOURNEYMAN DRIVER TO HALL OF FAMER|
|06/18/19||WINNERS NOT ADDING UP|
|05/25/19||THE 600 IS STILL A CROWN JEWEL|
|05/15/19||NEXT TWO WEEKS COULD BE TOO GOOD|
|04/10/19||WALTRIP A TWO-WAY HALL OF FAMER|
AMBULANCE ARRIVES BEFORE THE CRASH
Usually, you find ambulances responding to wrecks, not causing them. But that's what happened at Richmond and, while unfortunate, it just goes to show that no matter how hard NASCAR works human error can undo any carefully laid out plans.
It was truly bizarre to see the ambulance driver, just as pit road was opening at Richmond, park right at the commitment line. When he looked in his side view mirror he must have had one of those "oh no" moments and the drivers had to be thinking "what in the tarnation is going on" with a few adding adjectives that were certainly not family friendly.
When Matt Kenseth ran into a car he was knocked out of the race, but, luckily, still managed to grab a playoff spot despite finishing next to last in the regular season finale. "I never been in charge of one of these races," he said. "But I sure would think that if you're up in a tower calling pit road open or closed and saw an ambulance sitting in the middle of pit road entry, you'd wait for it to clear out."
Martin Truex, Jr. was on the same wavelength. "I was thinking that somebody who hits the button to open pit road needs to pay attention to what they're doing."
The problem is someone was paying attention and NASCAR Senior Vice-President Scott Miller said their instructions to the ambulance driver, way before he got to pit road, were as basic as it gets. "Stop, pretty simple, stop," explained Miller. "He didn't stop when he was told to."
Now NASCAR will do what they've always done with these situations Miller said. "We'll get all the people that were involved in the incident in a room and go through it and re-create it. We will dissect it and figure out how not to make the mistake again."
I've done a lot of races where I got to see how tight a ship NASCAR runs. I know some of the people involved and how much they care about safety and making sure the race comes off without a hitch. That doesn't account, though, for spur of the moment mistakes by people who don't work every race. I remember the first time we ran at Texas and as the cars went thundering by for a restart I saw a safety truck miss the infield entrance at the end of pit road and next thing you know he's hugging an inside wall as he stopped in no man's land. As soon as NASCAR realized what had happened they had to throw the yellow for fear of a car crashing into the safety truck.
Like last Saturday night, they took a little grief for the miscue even though they had plainly told the safety truck where to get off the track. To my recollection that hasn't happened again and I'll bet after Mr. Miller and company get done with their investigation into what brought about the problems at Richmond, they won't have to chase an ambulance off pit road ever again either.