Did You Notice? The amount of cautions for debris and fluid this season? Yes, of course you have; it’s the topic of the week. But the controversial calls at the end of the Fontana race are nothing new when we look at NASCAR in 2015. Debris, competition and fluid yellows have been thrown at an alarming rate so far this season…
Daytona: 3 of 7 (43%)
Atlanta: 7 of 10 (70%)
Las Vegas: 3 of 6 (50%)
Phoenix: 3 of 10 (30%)
Fontana: 5 of 7 (73%)
TOTAL: 21 of 40 (52.5%)
That means one of every two cautions thrown each week could be for something as simple as a hot-dog wrapper. When you’re slowing the field that frequently, doesn’t that seem like a case of too much officiating? The best types of officials are the ones you don’t remember at the end of the day, the guys who let them play in basketball and don’t get the replay challenges in football. When you’re throwing debris cautions, a subjective business, that much aren’t you injecting yourself into the conversation unnecessarily?
During a weak week of news for NASCAR, the numbers speak for themselves.
Did You Notice? Not a single Toyota driver is inside the top 12 of Sprint Cup points? The best there is, Matt Kenseth sits 13th and is a whopping 98 points behind Kevin Harvick. Outside of the four-car Gibbs operation the next best effort is Clint Bowyer sitting in 20th.
That’s alarming for a manufacturer currently missing one of its top names in Kyle Busch. While JGR suffered from bad luck Sunday, its new team with Carl Edwards is off to a rough start while offseason crew chief changes have come with mixed reviews. In the new Chase format, one win could easily fix things, but these teams are earning TV time for all the wrong reasons.
Then there’s the mess at Michael Waltrip Racing with the unfortunate reality that Brian Vickers is out for the next three months. While Brett Moffitt has been promising, posting a top-10 finish at Atlanta, filling the full-time ride is another set of challenges altogether. He’s an unproven rookie, with limited experience, and is bound to have some growing pains. Bowyer’s team is clearly suffering from the merry-go-round of drivers and changing feedback over at the No. 55. A two-car team can only do so much when just one of its entries is actually stable.
BK Racing, winding up the Toyota crowd, has been the most disappointing small team this season. Rookie Jeb Burton is lowest in points (38th) of anyone who’s run four races or more. His lone claim to fame so far has been wrecking with Jeff Gordon at Las Vegas, one of several incidents the No. 26 has gotten involved in. Fellow rookie Matt DiBenedetto has made only two starts, scoring a grand total of 11 points while JJ Yeley has posted an average finish of 35.6. Clearly, it’s a group suffering from a lack of information and funding across the board.
Did You Notice? Quick hits before we take off….
- We make this point every year but the Truck Series needs to have more races a little closer together. Almost a month between things makes you forget who’s even running this year. Quick, who won Daytona and Atlanta? (The answers are Tyler Reddick and Matt Crafton). Martinsville is a great place to return but the Trucks need more consistency, especially in this day and age if the series is going to survive long-term.
- Sam Hornish Jr. and Aric Almirola have yet to score a top-10 finish for Richard Petty Motorsports. Roush Fenway Racing’s lone top 10 came in this year’s Daytona 500. Front Row Motorsports has yet to score a top-10 finish. Sensing a pattern here for Ford?
- Harvick’s average finish this season, through five races? 1.6. That’s either peaking too soon or going to be exceptionally hard to beat come Homestead.
About the author
The author of Did You Notice? (Wednesdays) Tom spends his time overseeing Frontstretch’s 40+ staff members as its majority owner and Editor-in-Chief. Based outside Philadelphia, Bowles is a two-time Emmy winner in NASCAR television and has worked in racing production with FOX, TNT, and ESPN while appearing on-air for SIRIUS XM Radio and FOX Sports 1's former show, the Crowd Goes Wild. He most recently consulted with SRX Racing, helping manage cutting-edge technology and graphics that appeared on their CBS broadcasts during 2021 and 2022.
You can find Tom’s writing here, at CBSSports.com and Athlonsports.com, where he’s been an editorial consultant for the annual racing magazine for 15 years.
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