Thursday, February 23, 2012

Duel race #2 shockingly goes caution-free

The second duel race Thursday may have been the tamer of the two qualifying races for the Daytona 500, but it also included something not seen in NASCAR in seven years.

It had a flagman who didn't wave the yellow flag once during the race's entire 60 laps.

Before Thursday, NASCAR hadn’t had a caution-free race of any kind since the second duel race in 2004, which was only 125 miles compared to the current 150-mile length.

After Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout, many people said the Sprint Cup Series cars are too unstable to run competitively without wrecking, but of course that was after just one race and a few practice sessions.

However, the drivers apparently can race under the current restrictor-plate rules package without wrecking. They proved it in the second duel race Thursday at Daytona International Speedway.

The shootout had four wrecks and the first duel race had two more hard wrecks, but nobody dropped out of the second duel race because of a wreck.

In fact, winner Matt Kenseth set a record for the fastest duel race in history at 194.175 mph.

Caution-free races are always going to be an extremely rare breed because so many things can happen during a race, but I had begun to think they were extinct.

Instead, the second duel race proved that at least a qualifying race, which is supposed to be one of the wildest races of the season, can go green from start to finish.

The last points-paying race to never see a yellow flag was the October 2002 race at Talladega won by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Several factors go into having a complete race uninterrupted by a yellow flag. First and most obviously, the drivers need to run a clean race and not cause any wrecks.

Second, the cars must avoid mechanical or tire problems that could put fluid on the track or put a car in the wall.

Third, NASCAR officials must not throw the caution flag for debris on the racetrack.

Unfortunately, many of the long green-flag runs are cut short because of debris cautions.

The longest stretch between cautions in recent years was the 201 consecutive green-flag laps at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in June 2010. The longest green-flag stretch to start a race was at Auto Club Speedway last year when the first caution didn’t come out until lap 75.

However, both of those green-flag runs ended because of debris on the track.

NASCAR did a better job last year in terms of throwing fewer debris cautions, especially cautions for debris that television cameras can’t find on the track. Officials even held a meeting with reporters before Speedweeks where they addressed the issue of debris cautions.

"First off, if you're going to have a debris caution, you'd better have debris, right?" said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition. "That's starters. I mean, we don't randomly call something."

Speedweeks 2012 have started well without a single debris caution. Hopefully that continues for the rest of the weekend.

Granted, Thursday’s caution-free duel race was only 60 laps and had only a 24-car field, but maybe, just maybe, a full points-paying race without a caution is still possible in NASCAR.


  1. That race finished under caution!!!!

  2. the first duel race finished under caution but the 2nd was caution free

  3. Yes MICKY WALNUT was not there to turn the WRONG WAY :)

    Sad part is now wee have to listen to his DRIBBLE during the 500 , truck race was SAD his input was discribing the drivers / trucks by their color not the #