Bruton Smith: NASCAR Is Show Business, Needs Mandatory Cautions

Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith, whose company also owns Kentucky Speedway, thinks mandatory caution laps are necessary to help bunch up the field and eliminate lengthy green flag periods.

"Call it what you will, but you have got to have caution flags," Smith said during a press conference Saturday. "That creates excitement. You can't just sit there while nothing happens. It ruins the event and it damages our sport. Look at some of your other sports – they have a mandatory timeout period, TV time and all these things that generate excitement. We need to be creative in what we do in NASCAR as well."

Smith is seemingly on a mission to generate more contact and deliver more cautions to a fan base that has been vocal about the lack of breaks thus far this season. When Bristol's new track surface produced more side-by-side racing but fewer cautions, Smith caved to fan pressure and altered the track surface that should eliminate one of his track's three grooves.

That's not entirely possible at intermediate tracks like Kentucky Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway, but adding television timeouts and mandatory cautions could generate excitement with a sport that utilizes a double-file restart to spice things up.

"I don't care if you have to throw a caution every 20 laps," Smith added. "It adds to show and, after all, we are in the show business. So if we're in the show business, let's deliver that show. Because, right now, we're not delivering."


Smith touched on several other topics on Saturday as well.

The major story entering the Kentucky weekend was last year's traffic debacle – a problem that appears to be a thing of the past. Kentucky Speedway staff has meticulously worked with the State Highway Patrol, with Smith personally swearing that a repeat of last year will "never happen again at Kentucky Speedway."

"We've checked with highway patrol every 15 minutes and traffic is steadily moving into the facility," Smith said. "We've talked to fans that have already arrived and they were very pleased with the changes that we've made. I've been thanked more times today than I have been in my entire life."

And as of 6 p.m. EST, it appears as if all the changes worked. The speedway added 170 acres of parking, hoping to ensure that everyone gets into the facility without fail. As many as 15,000 fans missed last year's race while sitting in traffic.

The heat

The biggest concern today isn't traffic, but rather the heat wave that descended upon the Midwest early this week. Temperatures today peaked at 107 degrees; a situation Kentucky Speedway has tried to negate every step of the way.

"We started preparing for the heat 10 or 12 days ago," Smith said. "One of the most important things we've done was kept the parking lots watered which dropped the surface temperatures from 135 degrees to 85. We've received good feedback on that."

Who wins tonight?

When Smith asked for a more difficult question, a media member asked for a race prediction. His answer: "Jeff Gordon, but you already know that, don't you?"

Smith picked Gordon to win last year's inaugural Quaker State 400 as well. The four-time Series champion finished that race in 10th.

The Quaker State 400 is set to go green at 7:45 p.m. Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch are on the front row. TNT will have flag-to-flag coverage.

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