SONOMA, Calif. — Denny Hamlin stood by his previous statement that NASCAR officials sometimes use caution flags for debris just to liven up a race or close up the competition.
Hamlin was leading last week at Michigan when NASCAR threw a caution for debris with 15 laps remaining. Hamlin went on to win the race, but said afterward that NASCAR threw the caution flag because “this is show business.”
“There is always debris around the track,” Hamlin said Friday at Infineon Raceway. “You can call anything debris. … You could say that anything is debris and that it is a legitimate safety hazard, but I just think it’s the timing. ‘OK, there it is, let’s pick it up and regroup.’
“For the sake of show, that’s OK, but for the sake of competition, it’s not always the right thing. But, if we weren’t talking about that last week, if NASCAR had let it go, people were going to be talking about a boring race, and that’s something we don’t want, either.”
Hamlin said he expected a caution flag when he had a big lead last week.
NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston refuted Hamlin’s claims, saying NASCAR throws a caution flag for debris when there is a safety hazard.
“When we identify something, or there is something on the track that can’t be identified, we are going to err on the side of safety and throw the caution,” Poston said. “Cautions exist for the safety of the competitors and our fans and we take that very seriously.
“At some point, I suspect drivers would have a different point of view if they were to hit that piece of debris, particularly leading the race and it ruined their day, or worse. Our job is to maintain as best as we can the safety on the track.”