The first stage of the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway was a mess with five cautions and 33 of the 50 laps run under yellow. However, it took a stunning turn as Josh Williams literally parked his No. 92 Chevrolet at the start-finish line.
Williams, who had been involved in an earlier incident with Kyle Weatherman and Jeb Burton, was told by NASCAR officials to park his DGM Racing Chevrolet. The reason is that tape came off of his car due to the chilly weather, which left debris on the field and extended a caution period.
Williams followed the instructions — maybe too literally — as he stopped at the start-finish line, climbed out of the No. 92 Chevrolet, and walked across the infield grass with his helmet in hand.
Under normal circumstances, Williams would have headed to the infield care center after exiting his No. 92 Chevrolet. He would have then conducted an interview with FOX Sports and gathered media members.
However, this was anything but a normal situation. The officials immediately escorted Williams to the NASCAR hauler, where he had to sit for the remainder of the race before a meeting with Xfinity Series Managing Director Wayne Auton. NASCAR also summoned crew chief Bryan Berry and team owner Mario Gosselin.
Williams Faces Other Repercussions After His Unique Race Exit
The decision to park on the start-finish line was certainly unique, and it will live on in NASCAR lore. Similarly, Williams making the heart gesture for the fans will also become an animated GIF, much like Kyle Busch giving the thumbs-up before leaving an interview.
The moment will also lead to further repercussions from NASCAR. Williams’ name will most likely be included on the weekly penalty report on Tuesday, March 21, or Wednesday, March 22. The sanctioning body will certainly have something to say about Williams failing to follow a directive from officials and his decision to walk across a hot track.
Will the penalty report include a fine or a suspension? That will be up to NASCAR’s discretion. Though Williams told officials in a video recorded by TSJ Sports’ Noah Lewis that he can’t afford to pay a fine. Though Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin tweeted after the incident that he will pay the fine for Williams.
Cautions Were the Other Main Story at Atlanta Motor Speedway
Heading toward the race weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, there were three previous Xfinity Series races at the track that had 10 cautions. The first was in 1993 as Ward Burton won. The second was the summer race in 2021, which Kyle Busch won.
The third time that the Xfinity Series race at Atlanta had 10 cautions was the spring race in 2022. The drivers took on the mini-superspeedway for the first time, and they had the goal of completing 163 laps. Instead, they continued to bring out the caution with incidents and sent the race into overtime. Ty Gibbs finally won on Lap 172.
The 2023 spring race was far worse. The drivers took on Atlanta Motor Speedway with no practice or qualifying, and they attempted to cleanly battle for the win. They did not achieve this goal. There were nine cautions by the end of Stage 2, which sent several drivers to the garage early.
A caution for Patrick Emerling brought out the 10th caution of the day, which tied the Xfinity Series record at Atlanta Motor Speedway. A wreck with nine laps remaining was the record-setting 11th caution.
“It’s pretty sad, honestly. I’m kind of embarrassed with the sport right now just with the way the race has gone. And this style of racing, to me, isn’t a lot of fun,” Justin Allgaier said after teammate Josh Berry sent him into the wall. The veteran driver continued and referred to the race as a shame before ending his interview with FOX Sports.