By admin | April 7, 2008
So, whatâ€™s the big deal with debris cautions?
By Richard Allen
The 1972 Olympic Basketball Finals are often disregarded by most international basketball fans. A look at the final score shows that the Soviet Union beat the United States by a score of 51-50.
So, what was the problem? Why is the game passed over by basketball enthusiasts?
The problem is that the game ended with a manufactured finish. The Soviets were to inbound the ball with :03 seconds remaining. They trailed by one point.
After an unsuccessful attempt at scoring on their inbounds play, the Soviets were given another chance when it was determined that the Soviet coach had called a timeout. On the second attempt, a Soviet player missed a long shot but the Soviet coach protested that this time the clock had been reset incorrectly. Finally, after a third attempt the Soviets scored a basket at the buzzer to win the gold medal.
The U.S. team refused to accept the silver medal and filed a protest, believing the final outcome was nothing more than a Cold War robbery.
With basketball being the topic of the day I threw that story in to parallel what many NASCAR fans think about debris cautions.
Based on feedback I often get, fans believe the debris caution wrongfully takes away a lead, and possibly even a victory, from a deserving team and driver who have worked hard to build that lead.
With all of that being said, NASCARâ€™s first consideration must be safety. If an observer sees something shiny in the middle of the racing groove and has to make a quick determination as to whether that object is a piece of metal or not, any error should be made on the side of caution. If the object turns out to be a gum wrapper then so be it. Better to have a mistake made than to allow cars to come barreling into a turn and one of them cut a tire and slam into the wall.
However, simply throwing a caution for the sake of bringing the field together, particularly late in the race, is questionable behavior. As Tony Stewart said last year, that brings on comparisons to professional wrestling.
On Sunday in Texas, Carl Edwards had a commanding lead in the Samsung 500. On lap 296 a caution flag waved for debris on the backstretch.
The Fox Network never showed any debris. Perhaps there was something on the track but the network was busy setting up for the pit stops that were forthcoming. If there was debris then there is no problem. If NASCAR was merely manufacturing a good finish then they run the risk of being disregarded.
This season, or for that matter since Stewartâ€™s comments of last year, television cameras have shown safety workers picking up debris during cautions.
Fox commentator Mike Joy pointed out in the late stages of the Texas event that all races this year have had close finishes. Thatâ€™s fine if those finishes are legitimate.
My dad and I have watched many races together. We used to joke that if NASCAR ran a 24 hour race they would race for 23:40, throw a caution and bring the jet driers out for 19 minutes, then have a green-white-checkered finish. That needs to always be no more than a joke.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
Topics: Articles |