Drivers skirt no-caution call at Charlotte

Sprint Cup drivers remained tightlipped rather than second-guess

NASCAR for the no-caution finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway last

week.

The no-call, which came after Jeff Burton spun in traffic,

allowed Kevin Harvick to pass Dale Earnhardt Jr. for his third

victory of the season when Earnhardt ran out of gas in the final

lap.

”NASCAR has to do the best they can, and they didn’t feel like

they needed to throw a caution there, and in the end everyone

finished the race safely,” Cup points leader Carl Edwards said.

”That is a lot bigger decision than I am paid to make.”

Still, the finish raised questions about whether NASCAR should

be as stringent about calling late cautions as it is to bring out

the yellow in similar situations earlier in races.

Earnhardt, who likely would have coasted to his first win in

almost three years had the caution come out, steered clear of the

issue, while noting his fans’ bitter disappointment – much of which

was expressed through YouTube videos.

”When you’re passionate and you care – it’s a cliche, but when

that’s all that matters you’re ticked until things get right or

you’re upset until things get right no matter what,” Earnhardt

said. ”I can definitely relate.”

Drivers tended to be diplomatic about the issue, even while

acknowledging that a caution might have aided their cause.

”It is not easy to call a race,” 2003 Cup champion Matt

Kenseth said. ”You want the fans to see a green-flagged finish,

but you also have to have the safety of the fans and competitors

and people on pit road on your mind at the same time. I know when

they came back around there was nobody on the track and all the

cars had cleared off there, so I don’t know.”

Ryan Newman, however, at least acknowledged the various

controversies – one of which held that NASCAR let the race continue

because Earnhardt was running up front.

”It’s a Catch-22,” Newman said. ”You can look at it from one

perspective and say, ‘Yeah, they were playing favorites,’ and on

the other side, it’s a dangerous situation when you have cars that

are going to be continuing to run out of multiple restarts. Was

there a right or wrong? I don’t think so, but obviously it played

out the way it did. Kevin was the right man in the right position

at that time.”

The situation just points up the need for drivers to be aware of

developments on the track and adjust accordingly, Kyle Busch

said.

”Everything in this sport is circumstantial anyway,” Busch

said. ”If there’s a caution, there’s a caution. If there’s no

caution, you just keep racing.”