Road Courses and Cautions
Following this past weekend’s race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, I have a lot to say about how road courses are run in NASCAR. In my opinion, there are a lot of improvements that can be made to make races on road courses more efficient and easier to watch. I would like to preface this by saying that I think the actual racing product on road courses is great and NASCAR should not do anything drastic to the racing aspect of road courses. My main concern with road course races are the cautions that are called. I’ll explain below:
Cautions at road courses are a bit different than a normal oval track in NASCAR. Because of how long most road courses are, it takes a very long time to complete just one pace lap. Whenever the caution flag is thrown at a road course, I know that I have at least 5 minutes until racing will resume again, oftentimes even more. This past weekend for example had an abundance of cautions late in the race, extending the end and making it hard to stay invested as a fan. This is not a problem that is unique to road courses, however, road courses offer a unique solution to this problem that NASCAR is not taking advantage of. In an ideal world, NASCAR would implement what are called “Local Yellows” into their road course racing events. This is something that we already see in major forms of racing like Formula 1, so it would not be crazy to see. A local caution is pretty simple, when there is an accident on the track, a caution will be called, but only in the specific portion of the track that the accident is in. This works on road courses because of how big they are and the low cornering speeds. Drivers would be required to slow down in a particular area of the track, and would then be allowed to continue as usual once they exited the said area. I think this is a simple fix to the long cautions that drag the races out, and NASCAR would get a lot of props for using modern technology and officiating. It’s a win-win situation for the fans and NASCAR.
Link to an article on a similar topic: https://jalopnik.com/nascar-road-course-races-have-a-caution-problem-1846330148