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Even “phantom” debris caution couldn’t save New Hampshire race

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.

Topics: Articles |

12 Responses to “Even “phantom” debris caution couldn’t save New Hampshire race”

  1. Tony Geinzer Says:
    September 23rd, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    I really wonder if NASCAR should shorten the New Hampshire Race to a 200 Lapper in the future.

  2. zhills fan Says:
    September 24th, 2012 at 4:38 am

    And then they wonder why no one watches or attends anymore.

  3. Steven Says:
    September 24th, 2012 at 5:53 am

    “Everything else is just a game.” Now there’s an arrogant statement. Well, I enjoyed the NFL game. Didn’t miss watching the race.

  4. Dante Says:
    September 24th, 2012 at 7:50 am

    No real racing. Once the cars got spread out, NASCAR spent most of the time telling the “other cars” to get out of the way of the “Chase Drivers”. The radio trafiic, especially the ones not broadcasted on the air, were filled with individual comments about how the race was being controlled from the tower.

  5. Bill B Says:
    September 24th, 2012 at 9:06 am

    I’d rather see the field lapped 5 times by a driver than see one fake debris caution thrown. NASCAR outdid themselves, they had 4 manipulative cautions. Not once was debris shown and not once was there a car shown that had issues that may have produced debris.

    NASCAR sucks.

  6. Michael in SoCal Says:
    September 24th, 2012 at 9:49 am

    This race BLEW!!

  7. midasmicah Says:
    September 24th, 2012 at 10:48 am

    What really bothers me is that the cars not in the chase just pull over and let the chase cars go by. More orders from Brain Fart and moron Mike. Just get it over with and put 12 cars on one track and the other 31 cars on another track. I’ve stated before that if apathy set in, nas$car would be in trouble. Well, over the last 4 or 5 years apathy has put down some serious roots. I’m getting to the point where I just don’t care much anymore. Sad.

  8. Gordon86Wins Says:
    September 24th, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Classic. Only when Junior has a large lead does NASCAR seem interested in protecting the integrity of the race and not throwing that debris caution.

    I’d say NASCAR is a joke but that’s an insult to jokes.

  9. Bill B Says:
    September 24th, 2012 at 11:46 am

    First off I am a 24 fan too. But I just have to point out that if you look back to the Chicago race, they also threw a fake debris caution right about the time the first chase driver was getting ready to get lapped (I think Harvick or Kenseth but I can’t remember for sure). So I don’t think it’s just the 88, it’s NASCAR in general.

    If they would just say, “the race has gotten boring so we’re throwing a competition caution” I still wouldn’t like it but at least I wouldn’t feel insulted. Do they really think we are that blind and stupid? or do they just not care?

  10. Rusty Shackelford Says:
    September 24th, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Yeah, this was kind of a snoozer. Putting 43 souped up race cars on a one mile flat track and turning them loose for 300 laps should be anything but boring. In some ways the Chase has ruined NASCAR - it was a good idea at the time but as we’ve seen, it affects how the racing plays out - guys in the Chase or on the Chase bubble points race during the lead up to the start of the playoffs. They don’t make the bold moves on the track (Gordon’s run at Richmond a rare, and welcome, departure). Guys who are not in the Chase feel that they can’t race the Chase guys as hard. I say at this point, you go back to the old format, or maybe even just award the championship to the guy with the most wins. Teams would go all out every race. There would be less pressure, other than for sponsor exposure, to put a car back on the track after it’s been to the garage for repairs. Other stats, such as highest average finishing position, laps led, etc can be used in the event of a tiebreaker.

  11. Gordon86Wins Says:
    September 24th, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    You’re probably right Bill B, I haven’t been watching. (And I haven’t been missing it.)

    But I still do read columns from guys like Rich and Matt McLaughlin (who sadly just sort of retired), and my comment was an allusion to the Michigan race this year. I’ve never heard of a driver dominating so much in a race in recent years without the caution being thrown. That’s what I was referring to.

  12. Steve Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Being from the Northeast and taking a special interest in New Hampshire because of it, I’m diappointed at what these races have turned into. Before the Chase and the new car, the racing was very good at that track. (I have been to races there before and after the Chase and new car) Those 2 things all but killed the racing there now. Its all one big parade with everyone playing nice. Not one wreck there in 2 1/2 races. At least they get to save some money on white paint.