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.’’