Over the years NASCAR has taken its share of criticism over its consistency when it comes to throwing caution flags, and last Saturday night's final laps at Daytona International Speedway were no different.
As the race came to a close, the field bunched up in the fourth turn and Jeff Gordon slid down the track onto the apron. While making no contact with any other cars or the wall, NASCAR immediately displayed the caution flag thus setting up a green-white-checkered finish.
Yet when two separate wrecks occurred on the final lap of the race, no caution was thrown and cars continued to race to the checkered flag at full speed, despite wrecked cars scattered across the track and tri-oval grass.
One of those cars sitting vulnerable on the track as three or more cars zipped past was Ryan Newman. After making a strong charge to the front, the initial caution for Gordon's slide ruined the No. 39 team's chances at the win. Instead, Newman was collected among the gaggle of cars torn up in the final lap wreck.
Newman, who has been an outspoken critic of safety - especially at restrictor plate tracks, said it was not so much a question of cars racing back to the checkered flag, but NASCAR's decision when to throw the caution flag.
"We were getting back to the lead and then the No. 24 (Gordon) got sideways, never totally spun out, got sideways, kept going and then the yellow came out," Newman said. "I remember going back to Talladega where I got sideways, got drilled in the door, knocked back straight, then two laps later the yellow finally came out when my tire blew.
"Not very good consistency there, but I don't know why you would throw a yellow when there's one car spinning, not even spinning, going sideways and never hits anybody or anything or any debris and then at the very end you have cars going every which way and you say there wasn't a yellow which I wasn't aware of."
Having been fined in the past for his comments critical of NASCAR, Newman went about this subject a bit more carefully, admitting it is a "tough situation" to call the end of the race.
"NASCAR has to look into a lot of things while a lot of cars are going in every different direction at speed it's very tough to make that call because of the speed the cars are going," he said. "I guess they would potentially be more criticized for throwing the yellow and locking the field into position than letting us sort it out ourselves. Like I said, it's a catch-22, it's 50/50, as long as it works out safe then I don't think anybody could or should be mad."