By admin | September 23, 2012
By Richard Allen
Unless it’s from a Denny Hamlin fan, it would be hard to imagine any attendee or viewer of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race in New Hampshire describing the event as anything other than boring. Aside from the #11 car’s charge up through the field from its 32nd starting spot, there was little to talk about in the 300 lap contest’s aftermath.
As the event drew closer to its conclusion and with no noteworthy moment to serve as a ‘SportsCenter’ highlight, the usual conjecture began on the social networking sites as to when the inevitable debris caution flag would wave. Many fans, media and competitors alike have accused NASCAR of mysteriously finding debris on the racing surface, that may have been there for a number of laps, late in races so as to manufacture close finishes.
As it turned out, that conjecture was worthwhile. A caution came out on lap 274 for debris in turn two. It was the race’s fourth yellow flag, three of which were for debris and one as a competition caution because of an overnight rain shower that had washed rubber off the track.
At the time of the final caution, Hamlin had built a lead of more than six seconds over 2nd place running Jimmie Johnson. That lead would be erased and those in pursuit of the leader would have the option of pitting for tires if they wanted.
Needless to say, the #11 Joe Gibbs Racing team was upset over the call by NASCAR.
“Caution for phantom debris,” Hamlin’s spotter told his driver when the yellow waved.
“Really?” Hamlin then replied. “I don’t understand why they do this.”
But snarky remarks weren’t reserved only for the lead team. “Caution for debris, for entertainment,” Tony Stewart’s spotter insinuated to his pilot.
But as it turns out, the late race caution did little to improve the situation as Hamlin again bolted away from the pack and cruised to a relatively easy win. No incidents or highlight reel moments came from the ensuing restart.
There may or may not have been debris on the track. Television cameras never showed it although Hamlin’s spotter did indicate that a safety truck had been dispatched to the scene in turn two. But NASCAR, because of a history of these sort of things happening, is always going to have accusations made by fans, media and competitors when mysterious cautions are called for.
Whether justified or not, the late race yellow did not save this race from itself.
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