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Head2Head: How should NASCAR handle late-race cautions?

May 30, 2011, , NASCAR.com

In the first attempt of a green-white-checkered finish in last Sunday's Coca-Cola 600, Kasey Kahne ran out fuel on the restart, causing havoc behind him as Brad Keselowski and Jeff Burton got together sending the No. 31 around and leaving the No. 2 with serious damage (Final Laps).

Yet there was no caution.

The race continued with Dale Earnhardt Jr. out front until he ran out of gas in Turn 4 and Kevin Harvick capitalized with his third victory of the season.

It was a great finish, but not without controversy. Why wasn't the caution thrown for that crash, yet it comes out instantly for what appears as a lesser issue? NASCAR said following the race the cars involved got rolling so there was no need for the caution, but some are still scratching their heads.

What should NASCAR do when it comes to late-race cautions? Jill Erwin and Bill Kimm have their thoughts. Read theirs and weigh in with your own in the comments below. And don't forget to vote for whose argument you agree with more in the poll at the right.

How should NASCAR handle late-race cautions?

STAY CONSISTENT ONLY IF NECESSARY

With questions arising over time about how NASCAR officials handle on-track situations, the governing body needs to be absolutely ardent in following the rules it has made public.

Included in that is the green-white-checkered finishes that have become all the rage.

If cautions are going to set up late-race dashes for the victory, then NASCAR officials need to take on the responsibility of looking out for the drivers they're packing up for late restarts.

Case in point: Sunday night in Charlotte, Kasey Kahne ran out of fuel on the restart, piling up cars on the outside of the track as Dale Earnhardt Jr. checked out. No caution flew, despite the fact cars were still smashing into each other as Junior got to Turn 2. On the white-flag lap, fine. The wreck was behind the leader. However, there was still another lap to go and the safety of those still running -- as well as those who are out of commission with cars coming at full speed -- needs to be of the utmost importance.

NASCAR rules set up a maximum of three green-white-checkered finishes. Throwing the caution there changes nothing in the finish, but shows NASCAR officials care about their independent contractor drivers.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, the yellow would have flown. The fact it didn't at the most key juncture of one of the sport's biggest races is a problem and sets up a need for NASCAR officials to be more stringent in applying their rules.

Jill Erwin, NASCAR.COM

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

When it comes to sports, how many times have you complained the officials are too involved? The best games are the ones decided on the field, not by the officials or umpires. Well it works that way in NASCAR as well.

Cautions should be a last resort in the final five laps of a race. The only reason a caution should fall in the final five laps is for safety reasons -- a car stuck on the track, debris littering the track, oil on the track. Keep the yellow in the flagstand unless it's completely necessary.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a rule that should be applied throughout the race. Cautions are a part of the sport and are necessary. But strategies have been revealed at the final five laps and NASCAR should do everything in its power to let them play out. Let the drivers decide the winner.

In football, on a bomb to the end zone as time expires, you don't think there could be a pass interference call? Or in basketball, when someone cuts to the hoop as time runs out, trust me when I say he is getting hacked. Yet, the flags and whistles are nowhere to be seen.

That's not to say if something is obvious, a call won't be made, because it will. Same applies to NASCAR -- only put the yellow out if it is absolutely necessary in those final five laps. Let the drivers decide the winner ... not the NASCAR officials.

Bill Kimm, NASCAR.COM

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

Green-White-Checkered: Should NASCAR have thrown the yellow at the end of the Coca-Cola 600?