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Losing fans at an alarming rate, rumor has it that NASCAR is considering throwing fake caution flags in races to artificially make their boring races more exciting. Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith wants more caution flags thrown during Sprint Cup races and advocated Saturday for cautions specifically thrown to bunch up the field.
Smith’s company owns five 1.5-mile tracks (Atlanta, Charlotte, Kentucky, Las Vegas, Texas) as well as the half-mile Bristol, 1-mile New Hampshire and the Sonoma road course. It is at the intermediate tracks where NASCAR has faced its biggest challenge to produce exciting racing, with the sanctioning body having changed the rules already twice this year to increase competition. There were many empty seats at Kentucky Saturday night for the Cup race after so much interest the year before (inaugural race). Bruton is losing money, correction, Bruton is making less millions than he otherwise could, and he doesn't like that.
That might not be far enough for Smith, who wouldn’t mind caution flags to set up more double-file restarts throughout a race.
“We need caution flags,” Smith said Saturday prior to the Quaker State 400. “I don’t care what you want to call it, we need those caution flags because that adds excitement to what we do.
“You just can’t sit there and nothing is happening. It ruins the event. It’s damaging to our sport. Look at some of your other sports—they have a mandatory timeout, TV (commercial) time and all these things, and that creates things within the sport. We need to be creative in what we do in NASCAR.
“If you have them (cautions) every 20 laps, I don’t care,” Smith said. “It adds to the show. Someone once said we were in show business.
“If we’re in show business, let’s deliver. Let’s deliver that show. Right now, we’re not delivering.”
“We cannot go out here and start condemning mile-and-a-half speedways,” Smith said. “They’re there. They’ve been there a long time. I built Charlotte in 1960 and it stood the test of time.
“Don’t carry the argument that ‘It’s the speedway.’ Bullcrap. That’s not the case. What we have is a tire problem. We have a lot of different problems, but it’s not at mile-and-a-half speedways.”
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