Pit Man Chasing a Tire Causes Caution in the Kobalt Tools 500

Lap 67 of the Kobalt Tools 500 on Sunday witnessed a very confusing caution. Well, at least the reason leading to it was, as it didn't involved any car incidents on track, but a “complex” tire problem. It seems a tire from Marcos Ambrose' pit box was not carefully watched and decided to make a short trip through the pit land and all the way towards the frontstretch straightaway.

But of course, that wasn't enough reason to pause a race, especially since most of the guys were pitting for new tires or refuel. However, it did became a race-stopping reason when one of Ambrose's pit members decided to take the matter into his own hands and started chasing down the tire.

When approaching approximately 70 yards to the actual track – where all drivers were running at full speed – the Atlanta Motor Speedway officials decided to signal a new caution. The incident not only interfered with the on-track battle for positions, but also with some of the drivers' strategy for the Sunday race, as the ones pitting in the process were forced to re-enter the race with one lap down.

Jimmy Watts – the hero of the day, who spends his usual time refueling for the No 47 Toyota driven by Ambrose – was “severely” punished for the careless act, by facing suspension for the remainder of the afternoon. The reason? “Putting himself in harm's way,” confirmed a NASCAR official. In the mean time, all other teams were left struggling to find a solution to the problem caused by the “Watts factor”.

As a result of the aforementioned caution, Casey Mears – who had been a lap down before pitting for new tires – found himself 2 laps away from the leading pack when re-joining the field. Ryan Newman was another driver who re-entered the track 2 laps down as a result of the incident. The two eventually finished the day 16th and 22nd respectively.

“The guy ran across the grass and it just put everybody a lap down – us included, so then we were two down. It just kind of takes you out of the race. We had a top-five car. It is too bad because we had a really good car,” argued Mears after the race.
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