Monday, June 14, 2010

Competition cautions, Phantom cautions: Is NASCAR playing god again in the Michigan 500…no.

Well ladies and gentlemen, here we are again as NASCAR has made headlines once again. Not for Denny Hamlin mind you winning his fifth Cup Series race in the last 10 races, but for a so-called phantom caution in the last stages of yesterday’s race.

Honestly I can’t believe that we are really talking about phantom cautions, but for some reason when the littlest thing in NASCAR is off, the conspiracy theorists come out in full force to not only blame NASCAR, but call it a phantom caution or show business move.

Now for anybody not up to speed on just what happen yesterday in NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan, the race was a sleeper that saw few cautions and a few drivers dominate the race including the winner Denny Hamlin, who picked up his fifth victory in the last 10 races.

However in a race that also saw dueling Red Bull teammates where Mears spun out Scott Speed with Mears going to the garage area, it was with 17 laps to go that an untimely caution flag came out for debris on the racetrack. The caution flag wiped a 10-second lead away for Denny Hamlin and once again bunched up the field for a double-file restart with some pit strategy included.

Now even though Hamlin was able to win the race on cruise mode, it still brought up the fact that some say NASCAR created a caution to make the show better. But from what I have read, NASCAR fans who were using TNT RaceBuddy said they saw a piece of rubber or something on the track and that brought out the caution flag.

Even more, Kasey Kahne said after the race “It was a big piece of debris back there. I saw it,” in relation the 17 laps to go caution flag.

On the flip side, I can’t say very much considering I really wasn’t paying much attention to the race especially the late race caution nor did I see TNT show the debris, nor I didn’t think anything much of it anyway.

Basically I agree with what Jenna Fryer of the AP said “Personally, I believe there’s too much at stake right now for NASCAR to so flagrantly jeopardize its credibility.” (Her Article on Yahoo!)

I fully agree with Jenna Fryer, I too believe that NASCAR has too much at stake right now to jeopardize their credibility and even more, with the exception of a few races this season including this particular race in Michigan, the 2010 Cup Series season has been amazing to watch and some of the best racing in years. Drivers are getting up on the wheel and racing and putting on a good or great show period.

Bottom line:

1. I don’t believe NASCAR threw a phantom caution in yesterday’s Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 at Michigan (that name is a mouth full), nor do I think they should start now. NASCAR just needs to play it down the line and that’s it, let the chips fall where they may. The racing isn’t always going to be perfect, but NASCAR just needs to let it play out period.

2. TNT, ESPN and FOX need to continue to show the reason for the caution point blank, otherwise you get this. All fans want to see is the reason why for the caution flag, otherwise the networks are not doing their jobs right.

Furthermore while we are on the subject of the networks, all the network that carry NASCAR need to start or continue depending upon which network you are talking about need to promote the next race even if it’s not there race. And I’m talking about ESPN mainly, start promoting the races, the race is on TNT at 1pm, FOX at 7:30pm, it’s not hard, this is your sport too, get with the program.

3. And if NASCAR wants to schedule a competition caution in the early stages of the race, I would be in favor of it and it could be used for safety reasons away to check the track and tire wear.

By the way, in Jenna Fryer’s article, she asks what is going on in Kentucky with relations to the speedway getting a Cup series date. Personally I’m not in favor of it, SMI already has enough dates especially in that area of the country. However what about going to the road course in Portland, Oregon, they need a NASCAR date badly up especially around Seattle.

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