NASCAR not interested in mandatory cautions

Associated Press Modified: July 5, 2012 at 6:31 pm •  Published: July 5, 2012
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Bruton Smith has an idea how to create more excitement in NASCAR.

NASCAR President Mike Helton didn't sound very interested in the billionaire track promoter's suggestion to throw bogus cautions to bunch up the field. Smith argued last weekend at Kentucky that long green-flag runs are damaging NASCAR and floated his theory on creating mandatory cautions.

On Thursday, Helton said NASCAR fans don't want manufactured drama.

"NASCAR fans want the event to unfold unartificially," Helton said at Daytona International Speedway. "The racing that goes on on the racetrack under green is as exciting as any in motorsports. Sports is a true reality show as it unfolds ... you have to be careful when you think about artificially creating the outcome of that."

The current state of racing has been hotly debated this season because of the scarcity of caution-causing incidents. It's created a lot of green-flag racing that many fans have complained is boring to watch, and Smith seemed to agree with his mandatory caution proposal.

"You just can't sit there and nothing is happening," said Smith, owner of Speedway Motorsports Inc. "It ruins the event. It's damaging to our sport. Look at some of your other sports — they have a mandatory timeout, TV (commercial) time and all these things, and that creates things within the sport.

"If you have (cautions) every 20 laps, I don't care. It adds to the show. Someone once said we were in show business — if we're in show business, let's deliver. Let's deliver that show. Right now, we're not delivering."

Smith's suggestion was pretty much panned by several drivers asked about it Thursday, none more so than Carl Edwards, who warned mandatory cautions would send NASCAR down "a slippery slope."

"When we start using cautions to make the race 'more exciting,' I think that's going down a slippery slope," Edwards said. "I don't think that's good for the sport. The idea of a mandatory caution . is the next dimension of (being artificial). You can't fabricate sport. Leave sports alone and let the best man win."

He likened mandatory cautions to stopping and re-setting the score in a basketball game because one team had too big of a lead, and said a halftime break was the equivalent of making two races and the first one doesn't count.

Edwards even offered his own idea: drivers line up exactly how they were running when the yellow flag came out, with the exact same distance between the cars, and resume from a standing start.