Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event at Texas Motor Speedway was anything but tame, with multiple tire issues and many, many unhappy drivers over the course of the 500-mile event.
However, it’s quite possible that there wasn’t anybody more upset during the event than William Byron, who was put into the outside wall while battling for second with Denny Hamlin with just under 70 laps to go.
Just a few laps later, when the caution flew for Martin Truex Jr. hitting the turn three wall from the lead, Byron then retaliated on Hamlin, tapping the No. 11 Toyota Camry under caution and sending him spinning through the infield grass.
So, why wasn’t Byron penalized for spinning a competitor out under caution, you might ask?
According to Scott Miller, NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Competition, the sanctioning body didn’t see the incident unfold in real-time, but rather, was paying attention to the source of the caution, Martin Truex Jr.’s crash.
“I have to be honest with you. When we were in the tower, we were paying more attention to the actual cause of the caution up there and dispatching our equipment,” Miller told members of the media on Sunday. “The William Byron-Denny Hamlin thing we had no eyes on. We saw Denny go through the grass. By the time we got a replay that showed the incident well enough to do anything to it, we had gone back to green.”
That small spin through the front straightaway grass likely had a dramatic impact on the remainder of Hamlin’s race, as despite arguing with NASCAR Officials, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver was moved from second to seventh on-track, while Byron was able to keep second.
“So, if we had seen that good enough to react to it real-time, which we should have, like no excuses there, there would probably have been two courses of action: one would have been to put Hamlin back where he was, and the other would have been to have made William start in the back.”
In reality, the biggest remaining question mark surrounding this entire situation involves NASCAR, and what the sanctioning body plans to do, in order to make sure that this doesn’t ever happen again.
“Well, so we don’t have the cameras and – the cameras and monitors we’ve got, we dedicate them mostly to officiating, seeing our safety vehicles, how to dispatch them, all that. By the time we put all those cameras up, we don’t have room for all of the in-car cameras to be monitored.
“If we would have had immediate access to the 24 in-car cameras, that would have helped us a lot within being able to find that quickly. That’s definitely one of the things we’re looking at.”
As for the immediate future, Miller was adamant that the book isn’t closed on the potential of penalizing William Byron for turning Denny Hamlin exiting turn four, a penalty that could potentially impact his chances at a championship.
“I’m not sure that issue is completely resolved, as of yet,” Miller said. “We’ll be looking at that when we get back to work.”
While every situation has a different set of circumstances, there have been two instances where wrecking a competitor under caution has resulted in a multi-race suspension, those being Austin Hill/Johnny Sauter at Iowa, and Kyle Busch/Ron Hornaday Jr. at Texas.
Heading into back-to-back wildcard races, William Byron and Denny Hamlin sit third and sixth in points, 17 and eight points above the eighth-place cutline, respectively.