Denny Hamlin apparently has no problem speaking his mind about NASCAR's sometimes-iffy debris cautions.
Hamlin not only refused to back off his comment after winning Michigan last week that NASCAR throws cautions for "show business," but he added fuel to the fire during his media session on Friday at Sonoma.
While he stopped short of calling the cautions illegitimate, Hamlin said NASCAR could call a debris caution at anytime but chooses its spots based on the pace of the race.
"I think there's always debris around the track, without a doubt you can call anything debris," he said. "I can look out right now and I can see debris pretty close to the race track. You can say that that's a legitimate safety hazard.
"I think it's the timing there: (NASCAR says), 'It is right there, let's pick it up to tighten things up, let's regroup.' For the sake of show it's OK, but for the sake of competition, it's not always the right thing."
Hamlin said when he had a sizable lead toward the end of the Michigan race, he was certain NASCAR would call a debris caution to reset the field in order to create a chance at a close finish.
"I knew it was going to happen," he said. "Legitimate or not, the odds are that we were going to have some non-wreck caution in the last half of the race. Pocono it was the same way, we had a long green-flag spell and I knew it was going to be a matter of time before we see a caution for one reason or another."
Hamlin's general argument about debris cautions sounded much like what football fans say about NFL referees: They could call a holding penalty on any play, but choose when to do it.
The winner of a series-high five races this season said NASCAR will sometimes let debris go when there's exciting racing on the track; other times officials will use the cautions to tighten up a strung-out field. It's not a coincidence, Hamlin said.
"You don't have to be so smart to realize that these things are not by chance," he said.
But in some ways, Hamlin said that was a positive.
"I think if we weren't talking about that last week – if NASCAR would have let it go (without a caution) – then people were going to be talking about a boring race," he said. "That's something that we don't need right now."