NASCAR seemed to have made some progress with its road course package when it began this season with no stage caution breaks at the road course races on the schedule.
For what's it worth, the last two road courses — at Indianapolis and Watkins Glen — had a combined three cautions for cause. So you could see that making that change was something worth trying.
Now it appears that the experiment is dead, as NASCAR has announced that stage cautions will return for the final road course race of the 2023 season.
The news was made official by NASCAR Senior VP of Competition Elton Sawyer during his weekly appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
?? ?We want to make sure that throughout the playoffs [...] we were officiating the same way.?
What do you think of the move? pic.twitter.com/qPjXKpaxua
— SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) (@SiriusXMNASCAR) September 12, 2023
Sawyer said the change back to stage break cautions on road courses is intended to keep officiating uniform over the playoffs.
"We want to make sure that throughout the playoffs, in the 10-race Cup Series playoffs, we want to make sure we were officiating across the board the same way," Sawyer said.
This change back is going to receive plenty of push-back from fans and maybe even many of the drivers, as stage cautions at the road courses haven't helped the racing.
Following those cautions, the next restart has ended up causing major stack-ups going into the first turns at a majority of the road courses NASCAR races at, and it has caused major crashes that take out several of the sport's top contenders.
Having a fair playoff is understandable. But why make this change now, after you have run all of the five or so road course races this season without the stage breaks in effect?
This sounds more like a desperate move by NASCAR because it seems to be operating under the impression that it needs more cautions to help determine a race. That just isn't the case. Maybe the Next Gen car needs something changed on it at the road courses. Did they even stop and think about that?
The Charlotte Roval race in October will likely just have a bunch of pile-ups again, with NASCAR being NASCAR, it seems. The move of the restart zone is smart, but adding gimmick cautions back isn't the solution.
If this is NASCAR's answer for problems, then a road course doesn't belong in the playoffs.
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