NASCAR explains when it calls debris cautions, when it doesn’t

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After criticism from the sport’s most popular driver and a former champion, NASCAR defended its calls on debris cautions Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Both Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart were critical of NASCAR calling a debris caution with 20 laps left in Sunday’s race at Michigan International Speedway. That bunched the field. There were two cautions within the final 13 laps because of accidents with the field so close together. Twelve of the last 20 laps were run under caution. 

Stewart, a three-time champion, tweeted: “It’s a shame that so many drivers and teams day was ruined by the results of another “debris” caution towards the end of the race today.’’

Earnhardt, the 14-time most popular driver, said on Periscope after the race: “I don’t know why they’ve got to throw so many damn debris yellows.”

Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, explained on “The Morning Drive” how the sanctioning body decides to call a debris caution.

“We use all the resources that we have to try to identity what it is that is out there – that being camera, turn spotters and the communication that we’ve got around the race track to different people who may be able to see it,’’ Miller said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

“If we are actually able to identify what it is and feel like it’s something that is OK to leave out there, then we’ll do so. But if we can’t identify what it is exactly, and it could pose something dangerous, then we’ll usually, or almost always, error on the side of caution and safety and put the caution out in those circumstances. Sometimes it’s untimely and a little bit unfortunate, but we do have to do our job and make sure that everybody is safe.’’

Miller was asked about why NASCAR didn’t call a caution Sunday when a cowboy hat blew on the track.

“We saw the cowboy hat,’’ Miller said. “We knew it was straw, and that it would disintegrate if somebody would hit it. Obviously, that was right in front of us. Clearly, we could tell what it is, and we opted to keep it green because we knew that it didn’t really pose any kind of a safety risk.’’

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NASCAR America: Navigating Sonoma means plenty of twists and turns

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You turn left and turn right, what’s the big deal, right?

Actually, wrong.

Sonoma Raceway is an extremely technical racetrack full of winding turns both to the left and right.

On Thursday’s NASCAR America, Parker Kligerman took to the iRacing Simulator to show what drivers might expect on the nearly two-mile roadcourse north of San Francisco this weekend.

NASCAR America: Which NASCAR driver is ready for zombie apocalypse?

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Now there’s something you don’t hear NASCAR drivers talk about every day: how to prepare — and potentially survive — a zombie apocalypse.

Our intrepid reporter, Rutledge Wood, threw a number of NASCAR drivers for a loop when he asked them that very question.

The reactions range from incredulousness to seriousness.  Among those Rut talked with included Martin Truex Jr., Elliott Sadler, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Erik Jones and Kyle Larson.

And here’s a few surprises:

  • Brad Keselowski wants to buy a tank for the apocalypse, and supposedly Dale Earnhardt Jr. is waiting to take delivery on his own tank — both to kill zombies, of course!
  • Several drivers also talked about one of their former own who reportedly has already made big plans to take on any zombies that come across his path. As Wood said, that former driver’s name rhymes with Schmarl Schmedwards.

Check out the hysterical video — trust us, it WILL make you laugh — if for nothing else the outlandish responses from some of the drivers.

But it also makes one wonder: what if a zombie is among us and he’s disguised as a zombie? What then — and who might it be?

NASCAR America: John Hunter Nemechek looks to overcome small team, funding

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The good news for John Hunter Nemechek was with his win last weekend at Gateway, he and Nemco Motorports qualified for this season’s Camping World Truck Series playoffs.

But there is potential bad news, as well: because of having one of the smallest teams in the truck series and limited funding, Nemechek and his team are going to need more financial help, lest they potentially can’t afford to race for the championship in the playoffs.

Nemechek talked about that with NASCAR America on Thursday’s show. See the above video.

NASCAR America: Papis teaching next generation of NASCAR champions

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Even though much of his racing career was spent in open-wheel competition, it may surprise some to know Como, Italy native Max Papis has a combined 95 career starts in NASCAR across its three racing series: Cup, Xfinity and Trucks.

Papis’ versatility has proven invaluable in mentoring a number of young drivers with the potential of some day becoming NASCAR champions, including current student William Byron.

Papis spent Thursday on NASCAR America talking about what makes a good young driver and how he enjoys his role as a mentor and teacher.