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Has NASCAR lost its debris caution flag?

By admin | June 2, 2008

By Richard Allen


There are some things in life that we can all count on. Things that are ordered, predictable and consistent like the movement of the sun and the moon, migration patterns of animals and NASCAR finding “debris” on the race track to avoid the dreaded fuel mileage run at the end of a race.

Well, of late, one of those things has been taken away from us. The race in Darlington ended on a long green flag run with no yellow flag interruptions over the last 60 laps. Surely this must have been a one time departure from the norm. The next race would almost certainly bring back the order and stability NASCAR fans have come to expect.

But wait! The race in Charlotte ended under similar circumstances. The final 62 laps were run caution free despite the fact that some teams were saying they might not have enough gas to make it to the end of the 600 mile event. Usually, all it took to get that late race yellow to fly was for Larry McReynolds to start punching numbers in on his Fox Network calculator and a couple of pit road reporters to interview a crew chief or two, and presto, the caution would wave. Do the same magic words no longer apply?

Sunday’s race in Dover saw the same thing happen again. And if ever a race could have used a debris caution that one could have. But instead, the race was allowed to play out with a long green flag run.

Is there a new status quo? Are things changing by remaining the same?

For those who appreciate order and stability this may take some getting used to.

Seriously, whether it be from the jokes so often made or from a change in the mindset of the sanctioning body there has been a recent trend away from the often ridiculed “debris” caution. And, when there have been debris cautions they have been for very visible debris rather than the chewing gum wrapper type trash.

Perhaps NASCAR has come to the realization that no one can pass the leader with the Car of Tomorrow anyway, so why bother? Perhaps they have come to realize that there are ways of producing drama without trying to manufacture it. Whatever the case, NASCAR seems to be removing itself from the business of race manipulation, at least with the use of caution flags.

Obviously, if there is a legitimate reason for it NASCAR needs to throw the caution flag. The safety of the competitors has to be one their top priorities. However, it is good to see that they are leaving the staged endings to other forms of “sport”.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

Topics: Articles |

4 Responses to “Has NASCAR lost its debris caution flag?”

  1. Sharon Says:
    June 3rd, 2008 at 7:27 am

    How about giving credit where credit is due? Everyone seems to ignore the fact that the phantom debris cautions faded away after Tony Stewart called NASCAR out on the issue. I believe if Tony hadn’t gone over the top, we’d still be seeing them.

  2. Ken Says:
    June 3rd, 2008 at 8:38 am

    I agree with Sharon. Tony brought attention to the manipulation by NA$CAR and I appreciate it greatly. I want the winner to be the driver that earned the win and not due to luck because of manipulations by NA$CAR.

  3. Richard Allen Says:
    June 3rd, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Just to let you know, I have given credit to Stewart in the above linked article and others.

    Richard Allen

  4. Mike Says:
    June 3rd, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    I’m tired of hearing about the COT being so bad. The old car was even more aero dependant. ‘CLEAN AIR’ is not a new thing. A bad race is just a bad race, and I think the new car is going to help things. When Kyle Busch got his 3rd win, he was crawling up the outside wall every other lap. This car can be beat around and still run well, unlike the old car. Once these drivers realize this car is a little tougher than the old, there will be more rubbing and racing, and a lot more real or fake cautions.