Happy Hour: Being cautious with cautions

Throughout the week you can send us your best questions, jokes, rants and just plain miscellaneous thoughts to or @NickBromberg. We'll post them here and have a good time.

Well, have you recovered from the events at Auto Club Speedway?

While Kurt Busch has been the focal point of the "he got a bad draw with the final cautions" anger, Matt Kenseth shouldn't be overlooked either. The race was his to win until the first of the three cautions happened and it was no longer his after the axle issue leaving pit road.

The IndyCar Series season starts this weekend at St. Petersburg. It was supposed to start earlier in March but there was a bit of an issue with the race organizer and it didn't happen. The race begins after 3 p.m. ET, so ideally it will be still going on when Martinsville is over. That's a good move by the series, which has had way too many races start and end during NASCAR's television window recently.

Yes, there's a dedicated subset of fans that will watch open-wheel racing over NASCAR, but for the motorsports fan who watches all or most types of racing (more common than the IndyCar superfan), this is a great move.

It's also the first weekend in 2015 that NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1 and NHRA are all racing. Motorsports season is officially upon us, y'all.

Alright, let's get back to California. Our topics are predictable. Let's roll.


I have been a staunch fan of NASCAR since the mid 90's hardly missed a race. I can't watch anymore. The crap and race manipulations NASCAR pulled at Fontana made me sick. Was a great race going on till 30 laps to go and the phantom cautions started happening. Kurt said it best "WWE." France owes every fan a public apology. Never happen so I can watch anymore. You and I both know the old fans are dropping like flies. Really to bad the drivers and crews are the best. I love watching them. - Dwight

This is the type of stuff that was bound to come from what happened on Sunday. Hell, it was happening right after the race. Go to a message board, social media outlet or wherever you can find NASCAR fans and you're going to find people incredibly frustrated about the outcome.

Of course, there's always going to be that emotion when a fan's not-favorite-driver wins. But the reaction had nothing to do with Brad Keselowski and the way that the last 25 laps of the race were presented to those watching. Is the anger there if NASCAR fans knew everything that was going on in terms of the location of debris, what it was, etc? Probably. But the guess is that it's significantly muted.

Yes. If NASCAR didn't care, Sprint Cup Series director Richard Buck would not have been available after the race to the media to explain the race management over the last 25 laps. NASCAR knew from their monitoring hub (Hi people in the NASCAR center!) and probably saw how the race was presented and knew there was a serious perception issue.

Here's the thing though: There's no reason that Buck should have to come in to the media center and explain debris cautions in the first place. None. And we'd bet there are people in NASCAR that would agree with that statement.

It hopefully was a wakeup call to the sport and it's television networks that there needs to be much more communication when it comes to the explanation of debris cautions for the sake of the sport's fans and the race presentation.

There's always going to be the vocal minority. Once you realize it exists and will perpetually exist, it's easy to accept. But you never, ever, want to risk the vocal minority becoming close to a majority.

The decision to race back to the line is defensible, but the context of what happened before it at Fontana really casts a shadow on it.

The crash at Daytona necessitated safety vehicles because there were cars that weren't going to drive away from it. That's a very good reason to throw the caution. At Daytona in 2013 and on Sunday, NASCAR correctly guessed that all cars involved would drive away and the race could end under green. It's a solid strategy and one we can support. Crashes on the last lap when all cars drive away = no caution. Safety vehicles needed = caution.

But here's where you can play devil's advocate for a second. The odds are pretty good that Greg Biffle's car left a piece of debris similar (or bigger) than the debris shown in turn four on the next-to-last caution, right? Spinning race cars with sheetmetal damage usually end up with things flying off of them.

It was easy watch the race and feel the sanctioning body was being, uh, overly cautious, when it came to debris. And then to see a spinning car not cause a caution is understandably jarring. The context didn't help matters at all. But given the rough standards that have been set by NASCAR in its explanations of last-lap cautions, the decision not to throw the yellow is an easily defenisible one when viewed independent of the cautions before it.

A solid, concrete policy of what is and isn't a debris cautions would be great. However is it something that's greater in theory than in reality?

Sometimes you can't identify the danger of things unless you're very near it. At Martinsville, that's not too hard, but at Daytona, are binoculars really going to help?

It's also worth pointing out that there can be differing standards of cautions when it comes to crashes too. Sometimes a car can hit the wall and carry on without a caution while you've got a moment where Marcos Ambrose bobbles off turn four at Vegas, doesn't spin, and the caution flies.

Reality sometimes doesn't allow for perfection. Remember baseball and QuesTec?


I don't remember the exact requirements to make the chase beyond the top 16, or win plus top 30, but would Kurt possibly still be eligible if he just made the top 16? I don't see his recent pace continuing, and there is always the chance of a bad finish or DNF, but hypothetically could he make it still without a win. Just by looking at his current points he would only need to be consistent to really make up the 40+ point gap. Thanks, - Todd

It's all race winners in the top 30 + the top drivers in points without a win to fill the Chase field with 16.

Last year's Chase field had 13 winners, so it's reasonable to guess approximately three or so drivers will make the Chase via points. The three winless drivers were Kenseth, Ryan Newman and Biffle, who were sixth, eighth and 10th in the standings before the Chase began. Biffle, who was in 10th, had 753 points. That's about 29 points per race. For Busch, he'd need approximately 33 points per race to match Biffle's total from last year.

While he's ahead of that pace through two races, only two drivers (Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr.) had more than 33 points per race in the first 26 races last season. It's not impossible for Busch to get into the Chase via points, but it's not something to realistically think about either.

As of Sunday, we can no longer say we haven't been to Martinsville (as a fan, nonetheless). Will it involve a few $2 hot dogs? Never say never, but also don't say four or more either because that will be incorrect.

We had a great idea for apparel to wear to the track but with temperatures slated to be in the 50s, we may have to rethink that plan. Stay tuned. And no, it didn't involve camo.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!