July 4, 2012
By Chuck Abrams
So the ever-thoughtful Bruton Smith has come up with another great idea to make the racing better – mandatory cautions.
Long green flag runs this year have a lot of folks disappointed. By folks I mean race fans.
For the most part, the drivers are just fine with the racing product. Bruton thinks NASCAR needs to create more double file restarts, which is often where the excitement is as drivers jockey for position, especially late in a race. These restarts also tend to create situations where more wrecks occur.
I think we have heard pretty clearly from drivers like Tony Stewart about what they think of creating a situation for more wrecks.
Bruton even threw out the need for a halftime caution to create an additional restart.
OK, take a deep breath there Bruton. First of all, you can’t manufacture competition. The sport already has enough conspiracy theorists in it without NASCAR creating additional caution scenarios. Good golly, I can hear it now: “NASCAR just wants (name your most hated driver here) to win!”
You think those fans won’t be screaming? You better believe they will. Few of them believe in the current debris caution situation as it is now.
And talk about comparison to WWF? The comparisons would become even worse.
Bruton really shouldn’t compare NASCAR to stick and ball sports. Those sports have built in breaks after a play (football), between innings/quarters and just plain old TV timeouts for commercials. It is the ebb and flow of the given sport as each team takes to the offense or defense or after a score.
NASCAR has none of that -- the drivers are on the offense constantly. Stoppages are for wrecks or where the track needs to be cleaned up and they need to check on the health of the drivers in a wreck.
Mandatory cautions right now are generated around the tire compounds to check on wear due to track or tire conditions.
Debris cautions are akin to the floor being wiped up in an NBA game or officials fixing a hole in the ice in the NHL. The only other pauses in NASCAR come as the cars change tires and get more fuel, often times under green flag race conditions.
NASCAR is the only sport where it is possible that the competitors go all out for the entire event without stopping, except for tires and fuel. A caution-free race is just that. You may call that boring, but a non-stop football game would have players passing out on the field or they would slow down and walk through the plays. Now that would be boring.
I get Bruton Smith’s point about boring races, we’ve all been there. It happens. But before you start trying to manufacture excitement, why not look at new tire compounds or the length of a given race? The competition is as close as it has ever been and there are just flat out more accomplished drivers that there were 40 years ago.
The new car is just as sensitive to aero that once a car gets out in front, it is see ya later time. Adding cautions won’t change any of that, it will just increase the chance that the best car may get wrecked. And who wants that?
Brad Keselowski won his third race of the year at Kentucky last weekend, putting him in serious Chase contention. If he can stay in the top 10 during the last part of the season, he will be seeded very high by virtue of his 3 wins. Otherwise he stands to be the best Wild Card -- again.
That is not how Keselowski wants to get in the Chase this year.
Carl Edwards is on the threshold of not making the Chase after nearly winning it all last year. Carl is winless this year and just 8 points separates him from 12th place Kyle Busch with his one win. Fast rising Kasey Kahne is also on the move with a win under his belt. If Carl can’t get a win in these last few races, he will be on the outside looking in. That would be a huge serving of humble pie for Edwards.
Matt Kenseth is leaving Roush Fenway Racing for….Joe Gibbs Racing?
Mum is the word and Kenseth is leading the points right now has the making of an awkward situation at Roush. It’s kind of hard to cut him out of any meetings for the year when the dude is a championship contender. J.D. Gibbs says signing Joey Logano is a top priority.
So that means they are going to expand to a fourth team or this resigning vote of confidence is just a PR ploy we so often hear in the sports world. Even if Logano stays, it would not surprise me one bit to see The Home Depot move to Kenseth in 2013 and Joey getting a new sponsor. Winning is a huge sponsor motivator and winning multiple times in Nationwide isn’t getting the job done for The Home Depot in the Cup series.
Those are my thoughts, let me know yours!
Drive fast, turn left and keep the shiny side up.
The thoughts and ideas expressed by this writer or any other writer on Insider Racing News, are not necessarily the views of the staff and/or management of IRN.