UPDATE – Since the original publishing of this article new information has come out. In an additional press release from NASCAR, Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition explained exactly what happened with the final Bristol caution.
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. We’ve got times here, but anyway, that happened, and at that time when the flag stand realized that the caution lights were illuminated, the flag man threw the flag, and then after that happened we froze the field from the tower. It appears that in, not all, but most of the flag stands have a manual override for the caution lights, and due to the weather and due to other things, there’s an area that it couldn’t have been — it wasn’t secured properly, and the flag person leaned against the switch and turned the caution lights on. We tried to turn them off, and we realized that the override switch was on and they were hung on caution. It was a stupid error.
The press release also goes states that the only changes to the field were switching the running order of the No. 5 and the No. 24 machines.
End of Update —-
The Food City 500 from Bristol Motor Speedway was quite the event today. The NASCAR Sprint Cup race gave us over five hours worth of rain delays, exiting on-track action, numerous wrecks and a mysterious caution flag at the end. With less than three laps to go and Carl Edwards leading the field by plenty, the caution lights lit up on part of the track. Before you knew it, all of the lights were going and the race was under caution.
The drivers and announcers were confused as to why a caution came out and at the time NASCAR wasn’t providing an answer. Then moments later the skies opened up and it began to pour for a third time. The race would then end under caution with Edwards taking the yellow and checkered flags.
Although the mysterious caution didn’t seem to change the outcome of the race, inquiring minds still wanted to know what happened. Shortly after the race NASCAR released the following statement:
A track-light malfunction triggered the final caution. As a result, we threw a full caution as the operation of those lights became compromised.
It was revealed during the post-race coverage that NASCAR didn’t address this prior to the end of the race because they were sorting out the running order to get the field set. Obviously had the rain not come, the race would have been restarted under the green-white-checkered rules.
Luckily for NASCAR the rain did come and for the most part nothing about the outcome of the race was different. NASCAR would have had a mess on their hands had there been a restart and Edwards lost. Can you imagine what would have transpired if there had to be multiple restarts at the end and other cars wrecked during those restarts. Needless to say, a crisis was adverted thanks to the rain which was a nuisance all day.
By winning the race Edwards became the fourth different winner of the season and the fourth driver to essentially punch his ticket to the chase. For a complete listing of the running order click here.