Saturday, February 25, 2012

Keselowski talks late-race cautions

   NASCAR had a quick trigger finger when it came to throwing a caution for a last-lap wreck in Thursday's first Gatorade 150-mile qualifying race.

   In Saturday's Nationwide race, a 14-car wreck off Turn 4 of the last lap saw no caution flag until the race winner reached the finish line.

   Brad Keselowski, who could have won the race depending on the timing of the flag, was asked about last-lap caution decisions and how drivers respond to them.

   "You know, I think that I walk a fine line with the comment there, obviously. I think there is no doubt to me the most dangerous aspect of our sport that’s left is the yellow flag situation in the closing laps of a race. And I make those comments not in regard to the fact that if the yellow came out a little earlier I would have won the race, in no way do I make those comments in that regard. I make those comments in regards to the fact that if you’re running 25th, five or six seconds behind the pack when the wreck happened, the yellow didn’t come out for about six seconds from what I can estimate. And obviously there was a lot of attention on that area so I’m pretty sure it was seen," he said.
   "So the question is what is the appropriate amount of time? I think it’s very much a judgment call. With the wreck, I think it was in the Shootout, I think I would rather lean to the cautious side. It’s tough for NASCAR, obviously, to wave the yellow early and then take all the criticism from fans that didn’t see their driver win if the yellow wouldn’t have come out that early. So I can see that side of it, but I think that when I look at the sport and I look at the most dangerous frontier, it’s not the head and neck system or anything like that. It’s getting hit from a car that is six or seven second behind a wreck, but has to keep going because the yellow is not out. 

   "Eventually it will happen where they’ll hit a very, very slow car at a very high rate of speed and it will not be good. So I think that that’s an area that is still loosely defined and I’m not sure how to define it because I understand the difficulties that remain in that area to make those decisions. When I think of what I’m most nervous about, I’m most nervous about the last lap, being in the front pack, being wrecked and stopped in the middle of the field and some guy from 35th, knowing that the yellow is not going to come out for another six seconds, whales me going 180 when I’m going five or 10 or maybe stopped. That’s certainly an area that I think about for sure.”


Attention on Danica Patrick irks Robinson

   Apparently the first woman driver to win a pole in the NASCAR Nationwide Series is not all that happy with the attention being lauded on the most recent.

    On Saturday, Shawna Robinson, who became the first woman to win a pole in March 1994 at Atlanta, posted the following message on her Facebook page:

    "OK I've held it in long enough!!! It's not that hard to qualify at Daytona or Talladega!! Race, draft yes …qualifying is CAR! If only POLAROID would have been the event sponsor and I was driving for Tony!!"

     Robinson was referring to Danica Patrick, who won the pole for Saturday's series season opener at Daytona International Speedway. Her reference to Tony Stewart is likely related to Patrick's Sprint Cup Series team, but in the Nationwide series Patrick drives for JR Motorsports, owned in part by driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.

    In fairness Patrick did assign much of the credit for the pole-winning run to crew chief Tony Eury Jr. and her team for building a fast car.

    Robinson made 61 starts in what is now the Nationwide Series, winning one pole and one Top-10 finish, a 10th in 1994 at Watkins Glen, N.Y.