NASCAR admitted Tuesday that it made a mistake in where it placed the cars of Parker Kligerman, Josh Berry and Sammy Smith for the overtime restart in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Watkins Glen International.
Kligerman is the first driver outside a playoff spot with three races left in the regular season. He’s three points behind Riley Herbst and 22 points behind Sheldon Creed. Smith is in the playoffs via a win. Berry is 106 points above the cutline.
“Why we restarted ninth I have no idea,” Kligerman said after finishing third in Saturday’s race. “We’ve got to talk to NASCAR and somebody has got to explain this to me because I’m pretty sure the car that hit me in the wreck was (Berry), who then starts fifth. I get sent to ninth. If we start fifth, we win this race. That’s really disappointing.”
NASCAR acknowledged its mistake to those impacted.
NASCAR stated to NBC Sports on Tuesday: “Our goal is to get back to green as soon as possible. There are no timeouts in NASCAR, so we need to move quickly to give fans as many green flag laps as possible. In this instance, we should have taken the extra step and, potentially, the extra lap to ensure the correct lineup.”
An incident with four laps to go sent the race into overtime. Justin Allgaier was spun exiting the inner loop. The incident collected Alex Bowman and Brandon Jones.
The top three cars were ahead of the accident. Allgaier, running fourth, spun after contact by Cole Custer. Custer got by.
Several cars raced for fifth place. Bowman’s car then hit Connor Mosack’s car and went up the track. Smith went to the outside of Allgaier’s spinning car and Kligerman went to the inside. Berry followed Kligerman on the inside, hitting the back of Kligerman’s car while getting his right side tires in the grass.
The incident took place at a scoring loop location at the entrance of the Carousel turn. When the caution came out, that scoring loop was used to set the lineup.
NASCAR explained to NBC Sports what caused the issue with the lineup: “At the time of caution, (Berry’s) transponder did not hit the loop (he was part in the grass, part on the rumble strip), so it did not register a freeze position. … The lineup reverts to the previous loop at the time of caution. Where we erred was positioning (Berry’s car) in its position at the time of caution versus its position at the previous loop. That affected (Kligerman’s) and (Smith’s) position.”
The order as the cars chose lanes for the overtime restart had Berry fifth, Smith eighth and Kligerman ninth.
Berry spun in the Carousel on the next-to-last lap and finished 20th. Smith spun in the final corner coming to the white flag and placed 18th. Kligerman finished third. Sam Mayer won.
Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Tuesday on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that NASCAR made “some corrections” after the race to address the matter.
NASCAR stated to NBC Sports that changes made were related to process. Technical and procedure standards remain the same. NASCAR stated to NBC Sports that no changes will be made to how officials set the lineup for restarts heading into this weekend’s Cup and Xfinity races at Daytona and Craftsman Truck race at Milwaukee.