Calling debris cautions is a dirty job

Inside Motorsports

Thursday, May. 03, 2012

Sometimes NASCAR can’t win.

That’s the only way to explain the uproar over a caution for debris late in Saturday night’s Sprint Cup race at Richmond, Va., which helped Kyle Busch secure his first win of the season.

Immediately after the race Tony Stewart – the driver who had the most to lose from the caution – cried foul, claiming the “debris” was nothing more than a water bottle that wasn’t in the racing groove.

His word was taken by many as gospel, which of course reignited the debate whether NASCAR throws “phantom debris” cautions, tightening the field for better racing.

But at least three drivers, including Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards – who was black-flagged on the previous restart and not happy with NASCAR – had radioed in, complaining of debris in various areas of the track.

In any case, driver discontent is interesting, and that became the lingering issue after the race.

Of course, there is always debris on a race track. Racing at 200 mph tends to create it.

NASCAR’s responsibility – and therefore, it’s judgment – is to determine when a caution should be declared to remove it.

When it comes to safety, caution is the better course, every time. And NASCAR might be better off playing it safe more often, not avoiding a caution flag because it may come at an inconvenient time (such as during green-flag pit stops).

And forcing TV to show the debris in each case wouldn’t only change the debate from whether there was debris to whether the debris was worth calling for a caution.

Affected drivers – and their fans – are unlikely to find any satisfaction in seeing what was picked up from the track.

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