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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Up to Speed: Oh Look, Another Late-Race Debris Caution!

No, they didn’t… did they?

Did NASCAR blatantly throw a pseudo “debris” caution with 10 laps to go in a Chase race, altering the outcome and granting a bye to someone that didn’t see the front all day?

Yes, it appears so.

Coming to take 10 to go in Sunday’s MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, the race appeared to be over. Kurt Busch was cruising in the lead, running three seconds ahead of second-place Jeff Gordon and slowly pulling away. Busch, who entered the Chase for the Sprint Cup with two wins after missing three races earlier in the season, appeared that he was going to start his hunt for a second Cup title with a win and a crucial bye into the second round.

Instead, Busch would fall victim to a late-race restart, passed by Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards, who rebounded from early issues to give Joe Gibbs Racing a 1-2 finish.

To his credit, Busch took the loss with ease, finding the silver lining in a third-place finish.

“It was the difference-maker today,” said Busch of the restart. “But overall, I’m really proud of this team and everybody at Haas Automation and Stewart-Haas Racing. This Chevy was fast. It was fast enough to win. When the caution came out there at the end, I thought we had the right strategy, but we didn’t.

“But this is a points day. This is a long journey through these next 10 weeks. We weren’t given a hall pass now, through Loudon and through Dover. We’ve just got to work hard as a team and saddle-up.”

Busch kept his cool, but this isn’t the first time a questionable late-race caution has cost the Nevada native a victory. Busch looked to be cruising to a win earlier this season at Auto Club Speedway when similar circumstances prevented him from making his way to victory lane.

The final caution wasn’t the first time Jacques Debris made an appearance at the 1.5-mile oval. Debris brought an end to the longest green flag run of the season earlier in the race, and aided the throwing of the race’s penultimate yellow as well. However, no yellow was more unforgivable than the last one.

Phantom “debris” cautions are never acceptable. Sure, they may add to the excitement or intrigue of a race, but they damage the integrity of the sport in the process, a cost too high to justify the means.

The damage was intensified tenfold on Sunday, when NASCAR’s decision to throw the yellow changed the outcome of the opening race of the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup, which could ultimately change the entire storyline of the next nine races. Should Busch encounter issues, he could still miss the first cutoff. Meanwhile, Hamlin, who has had issues with consistency this season, is sitting pretty with a guaranteed trip to the next round.

The one affected greatest by the final caution was neither Busch nor Hamlin, but Gordon. Gordon, who led laps and appeared to be a legitimate threat to earn his first win of 2015, was running second when the debris caution fell. Gordon would spin his tires on the ensuing restart, dropping back to 14th, Gordon now finds himself a mere three points ahead of the cutoff.

Though the effects on him were minor in comparison, even Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the time to chime in on the recent trend of late race cautions.

“I don’t like debris cautions, especially those kind,” said Earnhardt. “When you have a late yellow, it takes all the damn work you did all day out of it”

Earnhardt’s words, while caused by frustration, proved true on Sunday. Busch and Gordon served a sacrificial lambs in the latest edition of NASCAR’s apparent 10-lap shootout requirement.

At this point, one has to wonder if NASCAR would be best off owning up to their want for a thrilling finish and adding mandated “competition” cautions with 10 laps remaining each week. At least then the cautions would have a clearly-defined cause.

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kb

Junior spoke the truth, but he is Junior so his checkbook will not be lighter. This garbage is manufactured. The Chase is manufactured and the race is manufactured…Jeez…does NASCAR that people with brains can see this? Are they so jazzed and obsessed with the Hail Mary moment? It doesn’t exist every race, no fan of Kurt’s but he was robbed of a win, unjustly so. What WWE stuff will happen next week that NASCAR will be peeing themselves and patting themselves on the back with glee over how clever and smart they are?

GinaV24

kb, well, they have their fight scenario now that the media can play up with Johnson & Harvick so that will make them all happy.

Jr is the only one who can say what he thinks and NASCAR won’t react to it.

Jazzed and obsessed — I’d say the NASCAR organization & its PR/media people are the only ones. Most fans seem to pretty much see it for what it is — maybe the casual fans who don’t/haven’t followed NASCAR for any period of time think this is all great, but I don’t know too many long time fans who like this.

Dick

Great article . Totally agree. Takes guys 5 or 7 seconds back for the last 30 min and puts them in place to reset cars that had worked their way up during green flag runs.

Tim Krantz

It’s soooooo easy to see who is benefitting from the late cautions. I have never seen a organization make so many mistakes and still come out on top. Me thinks NASCAR is manufacturing a championship. If it keeps going on they are going to lose a fan of 45 years.

DoninAjax

Neil Bonnett call him Pierre Debris. I think he drives the invisible 44th car that only Brian can see. It seems a lot of us can tell when a “debris” caution will magically appear when certain cars need one.

Fed Up

Tuned in after NFL game and 50 to go and knew NA$CRAP would alter the race. Why don’t they just give JGR the trophy?

kb

I agree with all comments. I have never seen a team have so many mistakes like this year and they luck into these wins. It is really mind blowing how dumb NASCAR thinks fans are, then the TV media and press tell us how “great” their drivers are. Hamlin was not competitive the whole race and a wave around gets him up there, a insult Kurt. Carl at Darlington the same thing, an insult to Kez. Matt Kenseth few times and the biggest gift of all the “NASCARS miracle poster boy Kyle”. Denny with his ACL, a gift of a storyline for NASCAR. Toyo must have made some big threats. They ought to be embarrassed already that NASCAR reduced the HP this year specifically for them, the junky product they had last year blew up just about every race. As Tony Stewart said about the HP, if he wanted to drive a Xfinity car he would be in the lower series. NASCAR is so obvious.

Bill B

As the years have went by I have grown to like Jr if for no other reasons he says what everyone else is thinking, especially the fans. I am so tired of endings that allow too many to get good finishes that ran like crap the rest of the day while setting others back that ran in the top 10 all day. I am tired of spending 3+ hours watching this when only the last 10 minutes really matter. You can’t even get excited when your driver is doing well anymore because we all know it’s not worth getting excited until the white flag flies. Until then we just wait for NASCAR to rattle the cage and shake things up to see how the dust settles. I used to like when showing up with a good car gave you an edge.

Earner

Pathetic is all I can say on “Fix” that is nascar & the phoney caution …Disgusting way to try & create excitement & destroy some others days…Was it the Dullness of the finish (at one of the dullest tracks + dullest car package) or was it Kurt Busch(Badboy extreme) was going to win..nascar has made this “playoff” a joke & it looks like they want a specific hand in who wins it all(pretty sure they’ve promised Toyota)
But as along time fan/supporter/attender(tho never at a dull venue like Chicago) I have lost any faith in the upcoming races being anything but more of the same..Shame on nascar

Tim Walgren

NASCAR is like the WWE. Staged entertainment. Trying to get Jeff Gordon a win in his final try at the Chase. Little did they know he would give his best Danica Stewart imitation the last 5 laps.

GinaV24

Tim, I have to disagree – I don’t think NASCAR threw the caution to try and benefit Gordon. He has been notoriously bad on restarts and I had no doubt when the caution came out that close to the end that his day wasn’t going to end well. I wasn’t wrong.

However, I do agree that NASCAR is much like the WWE in their efforts to stage and manipulate the outcome of races.

9 races to go and I won’t care a bit whatever idiocy NASCAR does after Homestead.

Bill B

I’m with you Gina. As soon as that caution came out I knew they didn’t do Jeff any favors. He was locked into 2nd and a good points day. I suppose if the planets aligned perfectly maybe something good could happen, but it was a longshot. And given past results…..

Kevin

I think NASCAR throws these types of cautions solely to manufacture excitement, but not to benefit any particular team. I recently did some research into who has gotten the most “free passes” from debris cautions this year, and the top two organizations were Roush and MWR, who no one would accuse NASCAR of trying to help out. Debris cautions, especially late in the race, are one big factor that has caused me to lose interest in the sport (I rarely watch a race anymore and just casually follow the running order online instead). As Earnhardt Jr. stated, it makes the first 95% of a race pointless. But I don’t think they do it to benefit any particular driver or organization; I think they just have the misguided view that their fans actually like those sorts of finishes.

Earner

The benefit doesn’t have to apply to who gets a lucky dog-But it sure can take out a 5-40 second lead or let a benefactor get in position to win on the restart

Dan

Only 9 more races to go and the misery will be over. Being a Gordon fan is not easy. Watching him deal with restarts is like watching a train wreck. Just can’t take my eyes off it. When the caution came out I knew he was doomed.

Even though I’m not a fan of either one I would loved to have seen Johnson pop Havick after the shove in front of the Mrs. Of course we all know Mr Vanilla would have never done that.

GinaV24

Me, too, Dan. I was so upset because although Gordon had pretty decent restarts all day – including the one that he may have jumped, I knew on old tires with the rest of the field going to bomb the restart there wasn’t a chance he was going to hold them off.

Like you, I’m not a fan of either the 48 or the 4 but I thought the 48 was wrong in what he did on that restart – Mr. I am so great never yields positions. I was sorry that Logano didn’t turn him.

Jeff

The best way I can sum up Sundays race is that Nascar’s phantom debris caution cost the Chicagoland Speedway a season ticket holder since 2001. I am not going back. Kurt Busch was robbed. The funny
part was that the 41 team starting talking about Nascar finding some invisible debris on their radio’s
10 laps before the caution flew.

kb

They seem to be on a big mission with their agenda this year, fans be damned…its about $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. It is pretty obvious.

Steve

I know Kurt has been the topic of negative conversation in the sport for much of his career, but I can’t help but notice a change in his demeanor this year. He hasn’t lost his cool once and he certainly had reason to do so this weekend. Instead though, he handled his loss this weekend graciously, even when he was pretty much hosed a win.

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