NASCAR is turning yellow

NASCAR officials are using late-race cautions to control the outcome of races.

Over the first seven races in the Sprint Cup Series, a late-race caution has been issued three times by officials.

Two of these instances were due to crashes outside of the racing groove, but officials waged on the side of, caution, to throw the yellow flag.

This procedure forces the lead driver to forego his lead and possible race win to better enhance the finish for television race fans.

A win is not dictated by the approval of TV ratings, but by a driver’s ability to outrun his or her competition.

Caution is defined in the dictionary as: care taken to avoid danger or risk. Richard Buck, NASCAR’s managing director of racing, controls the action on the track each week in the Sprint Cup Series. His discretion in most instances is governed by TV dollars.

It is his decision when to throw the yellow flag during a race.

With three laps remaining during the recent race at Texas, the caution flag was thrown due to a blown tire by Kurt Busch.

The debris from his incident was off the racing line and allowed teams to enter pit road and make changes to their cars. These changes allowed Team Penske driver Joey Logano to win the race.

Logano’s car was running up front most of the day, but was not the fastest car late in the race. NASCAR controlled the outcome to better enhance the TV product.

NASCAR has improved the safety of the cars, rule packages, tracks and racing officials, but to control races using the yellow caution flag is wrong.

Drivers are paid millions of dollars to run full out each week on different tracks. Their talent and team abilities should be the factors that determine the outcome of the race.

On-site race fans pay big bucks to take in the action, while TV viewers listen to commentaries, interviews and other jargon to fill air time.

The sport is heading into a realm of parity between teams. Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing and other power teams set the bar high each week with their level of performance.

Smaller teams such as Tommy Baldwin Racing and Furniture Row Racing will need to close their doors if too much parity is built into this sport.

The only way for teams to survive is with sponsorship dollars, which are getting harder to find due to the economic downturn. Long gone is a one-sponsorship deal for teams.

It takes several names on a quarterpanel and deck lid to pay the millions of dollars required to run competitively in NASCAR.

The sport is seeing big bucks from its television deals, but race teams and fans are paying too much for a boring product.

A new concept is needed for the sport. Throwing out inadvertent cautions is not the answer, NASCAR. Look for something else.

Contact Eddie Thomas at