Easily the most bizarre moment of the 2017 NASCAR season occurred in Saturday night’s Monster Energy Series finale at Richmond when an ambulance — yes, an ambulance — sat idle on the apron approaching pit road, blocking the entrance and causing drivers to take evasive action as they attempted to enter the pits under caution.
The driver most impacted by the poorly positioned safety vehicle was Matt Kenseth, one of three drivers who arrived at Richmond in position to make the playoffs but not assured of advancing. Thankfully, Kenseth only missed out on a good finish as a result of the damage his car suffered when he ran into another car that had slowed for the ambulance. Think about the egg NASCAR would have on its face if the ambulance oops moment had resulted in Kenseth — a former series champion who doesn’t have a ride for 2018 — missing the playoffs.
Such a scenario no doubt would have forced NASCAR to issue an apology and might have even been enough to force NASCAR to make a special exception and put Kenseth in the playoffs. Hypotheticals aside, here’s the bottom line: What happened on Saturday night should never happen in a race — especially one where so much is at stake. NASCAR needs to address its mistake in swift order, ensuring that nothing remotely similar ever happens again.
It’s pretty embarrassing to think that NASCAR’s lack of communication — and that’s really what it boils down to — forced one of the sport’s biggest stars to miss out on an opportunity to win a race in what could be his final season. And what about the fans who actually paid to watch this? Maybe they’re the ones who deserve the apology, because nothing as egregious as what went down at Richmond should ever happen in a professional sporting event.