Rewritten and updated: 7/5/2012
Ever since before last Saturday night's Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway when Bruton Smith said NASCAR needs mandatory cautions, there has been a heated debut on whether or not this is good idea.
Personally I'm been thinking about this for a long time and I have to say that Bruton Smith's proposal isn't all that far off. And I think its good in this case that he spoke out on this topic because it sparked this debate.
I've been listening and commenting all week long on mandatory cautions and I can see both sides. Keep in mind that these races are 300-400-500-600 mile races or a good 3 hours+ in length and NASCAR needs a few cautions during a race to reset the field, have pit stops, see pit strategy and once back green, the double-file restarts are always exciting and gives drivers a chance to really pickup or lose several positions in a few laps.
So after hearing all sides of this topic, I have my own proposal. I believe NASCAR should have 2 preset competition cautions during all NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. The preset competition caution flags would not only take advantage of what NASCAR already has been doing during some races, but adds another caution later on in the race as well.
Like I said, NASCAR already sometimes uses competition cautions during Cup races after the rain washes away the once rubbered in racetrack or there is a tire concern. So fans already know what a competition caution looks like and is and meant for. Only now, instead of NASCAR making the choice of whether or not to have a competition caution in race, every race would automatically have 2 preset competition cautions in place at specific set points or lap numbers during each race.
I would say the location of the 1st competition caution should be halfway through the first tire wear run which is where it normally is now when NASCAR choices to use it. The second one could be just about anywhere, but I believe the halfway point would work the best as the race normally starts to heat up just after halfway like the Southern 500 at Darlington did earlier this season.
With that said, some NASCAR fans, media members and even NASCAR officials have said that mandatory or competition cautions could be or are looked at as manipulating a race. But I see it more as a combination of safety with tire wear and taking a breather. Point blank, two preset competition cautions aren't going to effect the outcome of a race.
Look at it this way, so if we can't have 2 preset competition cautions because of so-called manipulation, then what is the chase -- isn't the chase manipulating the outcome of who wins the championship? Personally ever since NASCAR finally created a new points system, why do we need to the chase?