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« No conspiracies here as NASCAR could have made Junior a winner | Main | Is it time for Knaus to make another pit crew swap? »

NASCAR was right to let race play out but must strive for consistency in its rulings

By admin | May 31, 2011

By Richard Allen

In my most recent posting to this site I stated, “No conspiracies here as NASCAR could have made Junior a winner” ( ). In that piece I stated my belief that NASCAR went a long toward proving they are not conspiring to help Dale Earnhardt, Jr. win or else they could have done so in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 by putting out a caution just after the 88 car took the white flag with the lead.

I believe that much is true but I ended the piece by making the case that NASCAR opened the door to yet another problem with its inconsistency in regard to many of its rulings. Several readers also voiced that same concern in comments to this site as well on a number of other message boards and social networking sites.

At the end of the Coke 600 there was a green/white/checkered restart in which several cars were very low on fuel. As the green flag was displayed Kasey Kahne’s engine gulped its last bit of gas and he slowed dramatically with the whole field bearing down on him. The ultimate result was a number of cars spinning wildly out of control.

Before I go any further in this piece, I want to say that I believe NASCAR made the right call by letting the race play out as it did. I have written numerous columns before in which I have stated that on the last lap the leaders should race back to the line, except in the obvious instances in which there is something impeding the way or there is a fire or some other situation that obviously needs immediate attention.

But the issue at hand, more than whether cars out to be racing to the line or not, is NASCAR’s lack of consistency in such cases. The end of races have too often seen a ruling go one way during one race and another way later. Yellow line judgments have gone against drivers at Daytona and Talladega in some cases but not so in other cases. Cautions are quickly thrown late in races for seemingly minor matters and not so for more serious matters in other races.

There needs to be a more clearly defined, and most importantly adhered to, policy in regard to race endings. If races are going to be allowed to play out all the way to the finish line that’s great, but it needs to be the way of things every time. Several cars spinning in one race can’t be ignored once and the next week bring out a yellow. There can’t be a NASCAR official saying, “No advancing of position will be allowed below the yellow line on plate tracks” but the practice be allowed some of the time for the sake of an exciting finish.

Of course, the immediate reaction by many is that NASCAR’s rulings are made to help certain individuals or teams. Whether that is actually true or not, it is hard to argue the point because of the inconsistency. Whenever rulings give the appearance of fluidity, that door will always be open.

NASCAR, just be consistent. There was no caution on the last lap this past Sunday and that was the right call. That needs to be the case every week as long as there is no immediate danger involved.

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3 Responses to “NASCAR was right to let race play out but must strive for consistency in its rulings”

  1. Bill B Says:
    June 1st, 2011 at 6:14 am

    I agree Rich. The call NASCAR made Sunday night should be the norm but I know I’ve seen them call cautions under similar conditions more times than not. And, even more importantly, they’ve got to stop calling bogus debris cautions every time the field gets strung out and one of their stars is about to go a lap down.

  2. Kevin Says:
    June 1st, 2011 at 8:57 am

    The problem is that the judgement to throw a caution is a human judgement. It is situation dependant, and the call is not always made by the same person.
    When the caution came out for the empty beverage can on Sunday for example. I would suppose that it is possible that a NASCAR spotter might have caught glimpse of light reflecting off a piece of metal out of the corner of his eye. If there is a car or pack of cars heading for that particular area on the track, he may call out “Caution, turn 3 debris” & the flag be displayed immediately because there are cars bearing down on that particular area before what the ‘debris’ is can be confirmed. I am not suggesting that was necessarily the case on Sunday, just using the instance to highlight a possibility that could happen anywhere.

    In the case of the wreck at the end of the race, NASCAR officials and spotters had a chance to inspect the area of concern long before any cars were bearing down on that area and determine that it was free of debris.

    I did a little research and found a David Newton article on ESPN from fall 2009 where NASCAR spokesman Ramsay Poston was quoted regarding NASCAR’s policy when it comes to cautions in the final laps of a race.

    ‘NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said Allmendinger was given every opportunity to clear the track so the race could be completed under green, which is the ultimate goal.

    Allmendinger’s car did not create unsafe racing conditions, Poston argued.

    “We waited as long as we could so we could complete the race, but when the 44 didn’t move in time we had to display the yellow between Turns 3 and 4,” he said. “We were able to let the guys race it out as much as possible while keeping everyone safe.”’

    link to article:

    While I agree that NASCAR appears to be inconsistant in its rulings at times, I believe that a NASCAR statement regarding the decision making behind rulings would go a long way towards shaking the inconsistancy belief.
    ie why some ‘below yellow line’ moves count and others don’t.

    With all the passion that fans of sports posess, there will always be controversy and conspiracy theories. I suppose because the equipment plays such a large role in NASCAR as opposed to other sports, this sport opens itself up to controversy more than others. I would think a published rule book open to the public would eliminate much of that.

  3. Bill H. Says:
    June 1st, 2011 at 11:08 am

    I do not subscribe to the “they wanted Junior to win” conspiracy theory, but I do not agree with their decision, and I think it was made for the wrong reason. I suspect they were too focused on the fact that a lot of cars were low on fuel, and did not want to risk having a whole mob of cars running out of fuel during a second GWC attempt.

    It was not just a bunch of cars spinning out, at least two cars suffered collision damage. The track was clear of cars, but how could NASCAR know that there was not debris on the track? The caution should have been thrown, because on lap 402 cars were going to be racing at close to 200 mph on a track that could have had tire-cutting debris on it.