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« Is Jimmie Johnson a great driver or does he just drive for a great team? | Main | Who was that guy in the M&M’s uniform at the end of the Richmond race? »

Well timed debris cautions helped keep the drama alive in Richmond

By admin | September 13, 2009

By Richard Allen

The race in Richmond was interesting. The drama of who’s in and who’s out of the Chase for the Championship going right down to the final lap was captivating. There’s no doubt about the previous statements.

However, just think of how intense it would have been if it had been real rather than manufactured.

To say that the ‘debris’ caution and another mysterious caution or two were used at opportune times would be accurate for the Richmond affair.

The race in Atlanta was one of the best NASCAR has put on in a long time, and it worked out that way with no interference from the folks in charge. It was simply a good race.

However, the powers that be simply could not help themselves in Richmond. They were determined that there was going to be a last lap shootout to qualify for the Chase.

In all, there were at least three cautions for ‘debris’ during the Chevy Rock and Roll 400. That number doesn’t sound so excessive, but it was the timing that made them interesting. In each instance at least one Chase contender was about to be lapped or was in need of a stop.

It seemed as if the team of Matt Kenseth needed a great deal of help throughout the night. On more than one occasion they were saved from going one lap down by a well timed debris caution. Eventually, it became apparent that all the cautions in the world weren’t going to help and the #17 was eventually lapped.

Perhaps the most interesting caution of all came on lap 326. Clint Bowyer barely touched the bumper of Jeff Gordon which sent the #24 car sliding up and out of the groove. He did not hit anything nor did he spin out, he just moved up and out of the groove which caused him to loose a few positions. It looked as if there was a bit of a quick trigger for the yellow light if one of the Chase drivers found even the least bit of trouble. And apparently that applied even to those already locked into the playoff.

NASCAR just could not help themselves. They wanted so badly for Saturday’s race to come down to the very end that they at least gave the appearance of ‘helping’ that to come about. Knowing that the NFL was starting the next day and that college football was going on other networks in the same time slot, they may have wanted to make sure viewers would stay tuned in and that they would get near top billing on SportsCenter for the next day or two.
Maybe I was simply imaging things, but the timing of things was quite a coincidence if those cautions weren’t used as a way of keeping the interest up.

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

Topics: Articles |

9 Responses to “Well timed debris cautions helped keep the drama alive in Richmond”

  1. Tom Wilkinson Says:
    September 14th, 2009 at 4:45 am

    You hit the nail on the head on this one, Rich.

  2. Bill B Says:
    September 14th, 2009 at 6:27 am

    Right on Rich. I saw that happening too. They wanted to give Kenseth every chance to get his car dialed in.

  3. Ken Says:
    September 14th, 2009 at 8:15 am

    And it was clear that ABC was in cahoots with NA$CAR in their attempt to make the race interesting. It was clearly manipulation that make the race as interesting as it was. It stopped being a sport a long time ago and is now just scripted entertainment.

  4. JR Says:
    September 14th, 2009 at 9:20 am

    I also agree with your assesment, Rich, and I’m a big Kenseth fan. Now this is riveting motorsports journalism!!

  5. Ken Fleming Says:
    September 14th, 2009 at 10:07 am

    NA$CAR is trying to “fix” the races with their debris cautions. Sad that the teams/drives can’t decide the races on the track, but have to have their stratgey go out the window. Big Bill is probably rolling in his grave. NA$CAR is worse than the WWE.

  6. GEOFF Says:
    September 14th, 2009 at 10:10 am

    NASCAR throws a yellow for Jacque Debris? I,m shocked to hear that,they told the drivers not to interfere, I guess Mr Helton forgot. NASCAR also threw a yellow to set up the Matt Crafton wreck fest in the closing laps of the truck race. NASCAR your “SHOW” is stinkin up RACIN !

  7. Brian P Says:
    September 14th, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Hey, the caution that came out when the #33 hit Gordon was due to that contact but because Waltrip came sliding through the grass like a lawn mower just a lap later. Watch the replays. The 17 was given a few cautions to get his junk upright however and that’s totally BS but i am suprised they tried to help a Rousch FORD out as. If “powers at be” would have wanted the 18 in the chase they would have thrown a caution with 2 laps to go. You know Kyle is good for a couple laps, not sure vickers would have been able to keep up.

  8. Fran Says:
    September 14th, 2009 at 10:38 am

    As soon as the first “debris” caution flew, we were up in the stands yelling BS!! Then we watched the crews go around the track and “pick up the debris”. What a joke! They picked up little pieces of rubber next to the wall. By the half way point, the back stretch grandstand was starting to empty more than it already was. I watched people walk out the gate. Except for a few swaps of the lead a few times, the race was like all the others……..boring! The only excitement most of got at the end was watching Vickers beat out Pee Wee Shrub for the chase.

  9. Dan In New Jersey Says:
    September 14th, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    Rich I was kicking and screaming everytime Kenseth was about to be lapped and the caution came out. Don’t be surprised it was because NASCAR’s mega team is in trouble financially. Not only are they losing Dewalt, but now the team is out of the chase, and essentially off the radar for the remainder of the season. We all know how “the robot” works. Runs kind of mediocore, pit crew fixes the car, gains spots on pit road and gets into the top 10. But it just didn’t happen this time. No matter how many times NASCAR saved Kenseth, he couldn’t get his car right, nor his head, as he missed his pit stall early in the race. I’ve come to learn in NASCAR that no matter how good a “feel-good win” or “the underdog does better” does in the news, NASCAR favors the teams that have more money because they are the ones that ultimatly survive and provide more money to the sport. Brian Vickers, still not an established elite driver with far less an established team that up until recently hadn’t decided what driver or manufacturor they were going to use next season. Or Roush Racing, with Cup Champion Kenseth and essentially carrying the Ford Racing banner, has a lot to lose in NASCAR when the don’t make it in the chase. Arguably NASCAR does too.