Phantom Cautions Ruined the Best Race In Fontana Yet

Brandon CaldwellCorrespondent IOctober 13, 2009

HAMPTON, GA - OCTOBER 29: NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Director John Darby speaks with the media during NASCAR testing at Atlanta Motor Speedway on October 29, 2007 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Sunday afternoon's Pepsi 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, had me saying halfway through it, "What are you, and what have you done with California Speedway?"

There was side-by-side racing, for the first time ever, and I didn't fall asleep like I do most of the time when I watch a race there.

Then there was a caution on lap 236 that just made me furious.

It's something that most fans turn a blind eye to. Something that NASCAR has denied, and tried to disguise, since Brian France has taken over as president.

But the fans are too smart, and the drivers have been showing their frustrations finally, too.

The double file restarts "shootout style" has only contributed more to these "debris cautions."

Now, there's no doubt there was debris. What looked like a rolled up piece of racing tape—out of the groove—on the top part of the race track, that had been there for almost 20 laps, was the cause of this debris caution.

NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Postman stated on Monday that NASCAR's decision was based on safety for the drivers.

If that was true, why not throw the caution 20 laps earlier?

Oh that's right, they waited until green flag pit stops were finished, and then threw the yellow. He's right, safety is their main concern.

These cautions are clearly thrown to make the racing better for fans. Kasey Kahne expressed his displeasure on Sunday after a crash right after the restart of the "debris caution" that ruined his day.

"It's disappointing that we had a bad race because of a caution to put on the show for the fans. That's a good part of the sport, we have to keep the fans excited, but sometimes it ruins people's days."

Kahne is not the only driver in the recent past to express his displeasure. Tony Stewart, on his radio show a few years ago, said, "I'm getting sick and tired of NASCAR throwing debris cautions, when certain drivers are in the luckydog spots."

NASCAR slapped Stewart with a small fine before the next race, in my eyes, proving themselves guilty.

NASCAR has admitted in the past to throwing cautions close to the end of races to make it more interesting to the fans. Imagine that.

Imagine if in baseball, Bud Selig came out, walked on the field, and said to the umpires, in a two-run game, to give the losing teams two runs to make it more interesting to the fans.

People would turn it off, right?

Hey, John Darby, Robin Pemberton, Ramsey Postman, Mike Helton, and Brian France, guess what? People are!

Your TV ratings ARE going down. Maybe now we know why people are turning this off.

It's getting out of hand NASCAR, and now your drivers are denying your credibility, too.

And with a driver as calm and cool and collected as Kahne opening his mouth, fans are shocked, too.

We know two things NASCAR—fans are turning you off, and you can't spell debris without bs.