Josh Williams did ... what? NASCAR driver parks at start-finish line in middle of race

Josh Williams certainly gave racing fans something to talk about.

In the middle of a choppy NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday, Williams made the NASCAR world stand still in confusion: He parked his 92 car out at the start-finish line — and then he hopped out of the driver’s seat and briskly walked to his team on pit road, taking off his helmet and parade-waving as he trudged.

Williams appeared to park his car in frustrated protest. NASCAR ruled that he needed to head to the garage for having debris come off his car. Williams, conversely, didn’t think his day needed to be done.

“What’s he gonna do — fine me?” Williams said in a widely circulated Twitter video taken by Noah Lewis. “I can’t afford to pay it!”

The rule that NASCAR referenced in its directive to take Williams’ car off the racetrack: “At the discretion of the Series Managing Director, if a damaged vehicle elects not to enter pit road on the first opportunity or if a damaged vehicle exits pit road before sufficient repairs had been made and thereafter causes or extends a caution (e.g. leaking fluid, debris, etc.) then said vehicle may incur a lap(s) or time penalty or may not be permitted to return to the Race.”

The move occurred during one of the race’s several cautions — and it further delayed an already long race at the Xfinity level, NASCAR’s second-tier of its three national series. Williams’ transgression prompted the fifth caution of Stage 1 alone.

The move also set Twitter ablaze.

Only a few minutes after Williams emerged from his car, the Xfinity Series driver was trending on NASCAR’s favorite social media platform. One account compared his move to Antonio Brown’s early departure from a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game during the 2022 NFL season.

Williams went to his hauler after his move. He was subsequently told to go to the NASCAR hauler post-race to meet with race officials.

Williams took to Twitter himself after the race. He posted a picture of his car with the caption “DNF,” short for “did not finish.”

What Josh Williams said after the race

Williams addressed reporters outside his hauler in the Atlanta Motor Speedway infield after Saturday’s race.

When asked what he was thinking when he parked his car and walked out, he answered with a poignant question.

“We all work really hard, right?” Williams said. “We only run X amount of laps and then you have something like this — a piece of bare bond fall off — and put us out of the race. We’re a small team. We work really hard. We have to make our sponsors happy, right? It doesn’t do you any good sitting in the garage. It is what it is. We’ll learn from it and move on.

“The fans were kind of supportive of it and that was kind of cool. Hopefully, they got a little bit of enjoyment out of it.”

Williams also added that he told NASCAR that he was frustrated with the rule that forced him to end his day early — but he also acknowledged that this is NASCAR’s “sandbox and we play in it.”

“A long time ago when I was younger, I had something similar happen to me at a short track and I stopped on the frontstretch under the flag stand, got out and there wasn’t one person sitting in their seat,” Williams said. “I didn’t do it to be spiteful or make a huge scene or cause everyone to stand here. I just wanted to voice my opinion. I felt like it wasn’t right, but it’s in the rule book.”