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NASCAR’s O’Donnell Explains Caution Finish at Talladega

Following the GEICO 500 at Talladega, some fans have called the caution that ended the race on the final lap controversial. A wild melee took place, but it happened on the backstretch nearly a mile and a half away from where the finish of the race was to happen. However, on Monday, NASCAR’s Steve O’Donnell took to SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and explained that the caution was not for the accident on the backstretch that included Kyle Larson flipping numerous times.

“Our desire for the fans is to always, always finish under green,” O’Donnell said. “You want to let the race play out as much as we can, and that starts almost with (Erik Jones’) 20 car (spinning) going into (Turns) 3 and 4. Do you throw that caution or do you hold off and see if that car is able to roll off? Certainly, if he was stalled out on the apron, that caution comes out, but we saw that he was able to drive off. So, that’s kind of our philosophy in the closing laps.

“When it comes to the 17 hitting the wall and going down to the apron, then what we’re looking at is does he have the ability to fire the car back up and drive off or not and is there anything on the track? We’re going 200 miles per hour, so to quickly look at that takes a few seconds. By the time that happens, cars are out in 1 and 2 … his car doesn’t roll off so we throw the caution. That caution flag was almost the exact time when the (Larson) incident started unfolding on the backstretch as well. Even if there was no incident on the backstretch, that caution would have come out.”

Turns out the caution was actually for a chunk of debris on the frontstretch near the start finish line that came from Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s crash at the beginning of the final lap of the race.

Toby Christie View All

Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.

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