Happy Hour: Science proves there are more debris cautions now!

Welcome to the latest Happy Hour mailbag! You know how these work: You write us with your best rant/ joke/one-liner at happyhournascar@yahoogroups.com or on Twitter at @jaybusbee, we respond to your messages, everyone goes away with a smile on their face.

NASCAR is off this week. I'm not. I'm over at Devil Ball Golf, covering the British Open, and also Fourth Place Medal, covering the Olympics. Come on by and hang out. If you look closely, I may throw a Kurt Busch reference in here and there. Then we'll be back at it with Indy next week. And if you're doing something cool during this off weekend, throw it our way in the comments. For now, your letters. And we start with a big 'un:

I've found myself frustrated at the many debris cautions this year, especially when TV cameras don't even show the debris, and begin to wonder if NASCAR is throwing fake cautions to ensure bunching the field back together. I looked up how many debris cautions had occurred in each season going back to 1990 and the average amount of debris cautions per race. I only counted cautions that said "debris" as a reason and not such things as "oil on track," "fluid on track," competition cautions, and even one caution for "animal turn one" (Pocono 1991). Here is what I found:

1990 14 debris cautions .48 per race
1991 17 .59 per race
1992 13 .45 per race
1993 19 .63 per race
1994 19 .61 per race
1995 16 .52 per race
1996 23 .74 per race
1997 14 .44 per race
1998 17 .52 per race
1999 11 .32 per race
2000 16 .47 per race
2001 27 .75 per race
2002 40 1.11 per race
2003 41 1.14 per race
2004 60 1.67 per race
2005 88(!) 2.44 per race
2006 81 2.25 per race
2007 71 1.97 per race
2008 77 2.14 per race
2009 70 1.94 per race
2010 50 1.39 per race
2011 58 1.61 per race
2012 29 1.53 per race

I think it is interesting that throughout the 90s, the amount of debris cautions did not vary much. Once NASCAR got its new TV deal in 2001, there was a pretty significant jump, and then another jump once the Chase began in 2004. I would love to know how NASCAR would explain such a rise in debris cautions, when I would think with better designed cars and tires there should be fewer debris cautions today than in the 1990s.

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Outstanding work here, sir. It's like "Moneyball" for NASCAR! And yes, the most significant jumps do coincide with increased television attention. Even the drivers have conceded that there is something up with the "suspicious" "debris" cautions, but hey ... we all know the deal going in. Question now is, what do we do with this invormation? You'll note there's been a slight decline since the mid-2000s; keep NASCAR's feet to the fire! Take to the streets! Hashtag #nomorecheapcautions! Let's keep it going, people!


I am tired of the "nobody has to lose" attitude in America that seems to be invading even NASCAR. Holy cow! That little Wallace kid from the commercials ("I'll put him in the wall") has more spit than most of the drivers out there. Growing tired of the "turn left and don't pass" theology. If I wanted to watch items follow each other in a slow counter-clockwise parade awaiting an eventual big finish, I'd flush the toilet!

The Nikster

I love these kinds of letters. Makes me want to go spin out a minivan-driving mom out on the road. (Note: don't do this.) Also, "Skittles in a toilet" is my favorite description of Bristol, by the way.


This weekend marked the 19th anniversary of Davey Allison's death. This got me thinking. Do Alan Kulwicki and/or Davey Allison get a nod into the Hall of Fame with the accomplishments from their tragically short careers?

Darrell "Furiousd" Watts
A devastated 10 year Davey Allison fan

Let's look at the numbers. Davey Allison: 19 wins over nine years, two third-place season finishes. Alan Kulwicki: five wins over nine years, one championship. Boy, I don't know ... I honestly don't see either guy making the Hall in anything other than an honorary capacity. I see no problem honoring drivers who left us too soon, however, with a permanent exhibit.


Carl Edwards. Boy, he is not doing well this season. I was wondering if they were to put Carl back into the Nationwide Series maybe he would do better in Cup. I thought sometimes his awesome runs in the Nationwide helped him with his Cup car.

Patti from Texas

More numbers (it's a numeric week here), sizing up years in which Edwards ran a full season of Cup and a near-full Nationwide season:

2005: Cup 3rd, Nationwide 3rd
2006: Cup 12th, Nationwide 2nd
2007: Cup 9th, Nationwide 1st
2008: Cup 2nd, Nationwide 2nd
2009: Cup 11th, Nationwide 2nd
2010: Cup 4th, Nationwide 2nd
2011: Cup 2nd, Nationwide N/A (8 wins, 23 top 5s, 27 top 10s in 33 races)
2012: Cup 11th (at present), Nationwide N/A

Huh. That's pretty compelling evidence that running in Nationwide didn't exactly hurt Edwards, though did it hurt him enough to cost him a championship or two? We can't determine that. Generally, though, drivers like Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski don't hold much with the idea that you can tire yourself out by running in both series. On the contrary, you can (in theory) learn a lot about a track by running it twice in a weekend. You can bet that if Edwards doesn't make the Chase this season, every option will be on the table for 2013.


Do drivers like Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch racing for the wild card spots receive the bonus points in the Chase for their pre-Chase wins?

Chas K.

Nope. Bonus points only apply for wins achieved by the top-10 finishers. Which is why it's so important for guys like Keselowski to stay in the top 10; he doesn't want to lose the bonus points this year the way he did last year. Of course, even nine bonus points can get eliminated in the qualifying for the very first race, so perhaps it's not as big a deal as NASCAR wants us to believe. But that's a topic for another day.


From Kevin Harvick's NNS post-race interview: ''It's somebody who shouldn't be on the racetrack, who has no clue what they're doing in the race car,'' Harvick said, directing his anger at Amber Cope. ''She wants to be Danica Patrick, but she can't hold her helmet.'' Would that be some respect for DP thrown in there amongst the sarcasm?

Dallas , Texas

Wait a second ... there IS! That's a backdoor compliment if ever there was one! Danica Patrick: her helmet is too heavy for Amber Cope! Take that to the bank, Danica haters!

And on that note, we're out. Thanks to all our writers this week. You want in? Fire up the computer and hit us with whatever's on your mind, NASCAR-wise, at happyhournascar@yahoogroups.com. You can find Yahoo! Sports' NASCAR coverage on Facebook right here, and you can follow me on Twitter at @jaybusbee and on Facebook here. Make sure to tell us where you're from. We'll make you famous!