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NASCAR can have exciting races without phony cautions

By admin | June 27, 2010

By Richard Allen

Hopefully a lesson was learned on Sunday in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The lesson was that a NASCAR race can have an exciting ending without the use of ‘debris’ cautions to bunch the field and thus contrive a close, highlight filled finish.

This race showed that the ending can take care of itself as long as drivers have a desire to win.

After a caution at lap 35, the race on the one-mile oval went just over 200 laps before seeing another yellow flag wave. But unlike so many other races in recent history, each caution in the late laps was legitimate.

Kasey Kahne’s blown engine put oil on the racing surface at lap 240. From there, the drivers took care of everything else. Some great competition was seen over the course of the last 50 laps throughout the top-10.

With 25 laps remaining, Jeff Burton and Jimmie Johnson were in the midst of a nose-to-tail and side-by-side battle for the lead. In the meantime, drivers such as Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer were racing for other positions inside the top-10.

At lap 283 the intensity really amped up as Juan Pablo Montoya was spun by the lapped car of Reed Sorenson. Differing pit strategies on those late caution flags assured that there would be passing and scrambling over the course of the final laps.

Jeff Burton’s car began to slip back as he had stayed out on old tires while others had pitted. His ill handling Chevrolet tagged Kyle Busch’s Toyota on lap 290 which sent the two cars spinning.

After that, Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch carried out a hard fought, fender rubbing battle for the win. It was one of the best late lap fights in a NASCAR race in some time.

And the battle was carried out without the aid of a staged caution flag.

For those who would argue that the middle section of the race was boring, I would agree to an extent. However, look at what that long green run really did. It eliminated those who did not have the ability to keep up. Think of the many races over the last two seasons in which a driver slipped into a good finish he did not really deserve but got when contrived events kept such a driver in contention.

Now, I still firmly believe that the mid-sections of races could be more entertaining if NASCAR would loosen up on the many restrictions they impose on teams, but that has been and will be a topic for another day.

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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.

Topics: Articles |

6 Responses to “NASCAR can have exciting races without phony cautions”

  1. Justin Says:
    June 28th, 2010 at 8:00 am

    Minus the “debris caution” at lap 35, I agree. When they showed the debris on tv, I had to laugh… a water bottle, seriously, a water bottle

  2. JerseyGirl Says:
    June 28th, 2010 at 8:21 am

    I agree, this race was run well and didn’t have an exciting finish “manufactured” by NASCAR.

    Justin - the water bottle that the TV people showed (I’m sure they were told to show the debris) wasn’t what the caution was actually called for — I heard one of the spotters say - its up against the wall and later on when the cleanup truck stopped - it picked up whatever it was on the track up against the wall, so even though the TV people focused on the wrong piece, for a change, there really was debris.

  3. Steve Says:
    June 28th, 2010 at 11:54 am

    If the debris was up against the wall, there was no reason to call a debris caution for that since it is not a danger to anyone up against the wall.

    Also, Nascar was saved from having to throw a debris caution when Montoya crashed with under 20 laps left.

    Getting off topic a little bit, if Jimmie was livid because of that bump and run Sunday, it goes to show that he can be rattled. He has done that move many times before to people. If he is livid because of that, drivers need to do more of it to get him off his game. It may be the way to end his run of championships.

  4. Kevin Says:
    June 28th, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    I agree and felt exactly the same way as I watched the race yesterday afternoon. I applaud NASCAR for just letting the race play out naturally, and we were treated to a very exciting finish!

  5. Charles Says:
    June 28th, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    I agree that they dont need “manufactered caution”, that being said,
    Until the last 10 laps this was to me one of the most boring races of the year!!!!!!

    Nascar must think the senerio having 10 laps of exciting racing at the end will mask a mostly boring race!

    This also showed that shorting races will not help, with the Chase more important than the race system they can make a boring race out of 300 laps as easy as a 500 miler!

    Richard add New Hampshire to your list of tracks that show what is wrong with Nascar!

  6. Jeff Says:
    June 29th, 2010 at 1:21 am

    I was glad to see a race essentially run debris caution free. I kinda scoffed when I saw the water bottle and then they showed a guy outside the truck picking up something, but it was a little too late to see what it was. But the 2 and the 42 were battling for the lead when that caution came out, so the caution wasn’t brought out to enhance the racing because it was a good battle for the lead at that moment.
    After this, the race went to 201 laps caution free(out of 301 laps for the race) until Kasey’s engine blew. But to those that thought those 201 laps of green flag racing were boring, I very much disagree. Multiple, consecutive green flag pit stops made the racing very good. The leaders had to try and navigate through traffic and the leader was often caught by the 2nd place car because no one wanted the leader to lap them.
    This is good stuff. Good ole fashioned NASCAR racing. It’s awsome to see a sequence of green flag pitstops where Jimmie can go from leading before pitstops and then after they’ve cycled through, he’s in 9th and 7 seconds back. And that was all because of one dropped lug nut. You don’t get that excitement with yellow flag pitstops.
    I am a big proponent of all the races needing to be allowed to run naturally. I believe this to be one of the few races that this has happened over the past 2 years and I applaud NASCAR for it. Maybe they were listening to Denny and have decided to let the boys be boys and let them race an honest race. I enjoyed this race more than any other this year because of the way it was conducted by NASCAR. Remember, not all races can be great, but the best chance at great races(and great finishes) are to let them run naturally.