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Local cautions at road courses not often viewed as an option for NASCAR

Christopher Bell passes Joey Logano with two laps remaining at the Daytona Road Course and holds on for his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory in 38 starts.

A NASCAR senior official said Monday that the sanctioning body won’t use local cautions in many cases at road course events. The official also explained why a caution was called when rain was only over part of the track during Sunday’s Cup race.

With seven road course Cup points races this season, the notion of having a caution only in a particular portion of the course — as other racing series may do — is something that could be debated throughout the year.

Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, suggested to SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” that there’s no need for much debate.

MORE: Winners and losers from Daytona road course

“We will give a competitor an opportunity to get going again unless he’s in a super dangerous spot with cars coming at him,” Miller said. “We’ll give them an opportunity to get going again. We’ll wait as long as we can, but we typically don’t throw a full-course caution unless we know we’re going to have to dispatch equipment to either pick up debris, clean up oil or pull a car out of the tire barriers.

“Under no circumstance are we going to have a local yellow with our equipment and our personnel out on the track. Local yellows (are) something that we can talk about, but honestly, concept(-wise) it is good but in practice I don’t really think that it keeps us from throwing the full-course caution hardly ever.”

There were 25 cautions during the Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck races this past weekend. Last year, there were 16 cautions for all three series on the Daytona road course.

Much of the increase this year was due to accidents. Nine of the 25 cautions this year were for accidents in the three series compared to two cautions for accidents last year. There were six cautions for stalled vehicles this year (same total as last year). Each year had one caution for weather.

The caution for rain in Sunday’s Cup race could be viewed as controversial by some with rain only over a portion of the 3.61-mile course at Daytona.
Section 10.6.5.a of the Cup rulebook states that when a race has started under dry conditions, NASCAR will call a caution when officials determine “conditions are too ‘wet’ to continue under ‘dry’ condition equipment.”

Why is there such a rule when teams have rain tires and can make the decision if to go to rain tires on their own?

“The one in the Cup race was pretty unique and actually a difficult call,” Miller said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio of the caution for rain. “One of the things that was unique about it was it was kind of raining hard in a couple of corners and not on the rest of the track at all.

“So what we really wanted to avoid — and why we threw that caution — was we didn’t want the drivers thinking that the track was dry. There was no way the spotters can know, there’s no way anybody can really know that it’s raining hard in those couple of corners except us with our turn spotters reporting back and our chase vehicles reporting back.

“So we didn’t want to send the field into those corners with a wet surface and then be completely unaware. That’s why the caution came out there.”