Calling it "artificial" and a slippery slope that NASCAR doesn't need to head down, Carl Edwards left no doubt where he stands on the idea of mandatory cautions when he spoke with the media Thursday at Daytona International Speedway.
"If you wanted to shorten the races or you wanted to do something, but just throwing a caution because the race is ‘boring' to someone, I think that's a dangerous road to go down, in my opinion," Edwards said. "I think if somebody is good and they go out and win every race by a lap for a year, then they ought to be held up for that and say, ‘Hey, that's great.'
"And if it makes the race a little more boring, we get a little bit less sponsorship dollars or a few less people in the seats, that's just the way it is. That's real competition. That's the way things go sometimes. You can't fabricate competition. That's what's so great about our sport."
The idea of mandatory cautions stems from comments Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith made last week at Kentucky, saying NASCAR should have predetermined yellow flags in order to artificially enhance the action on the track.
Edwards, who was unaware of Smith's comments before entering the Daytona media center, was adamant that introducing such an idea – comparable to a TV timeout in other sports – was not in the best interests of NASCAR.
"Let me just lay something out here for you," Edwards said. "Is it your understanding that when they throw the green flag, that the only reason another flag is gonna come out – like a yellow one or a red one before the checkered flag comes out – is if there's a condition on the race track that is unsafe to continue to race?"
All of the reporters in attendance nodded yes.
"So that tells me a couple of things," Edwards said. "I should prepare to run the whole race. I should prepare to run the whole race under green. I should plan my pit strategy to run and I should only change it when I see something that happens on the race track, like a wreck, oil or debris. Those are the rules and that's the way I understand auto racing to work."
When a reporter challenged Edwards by asking about recent rule changes such as the Lucky Dog, double-file restarts and the wave-around rule – all of which were introduced by NASCAR in recent years in an effort to make the on-track product better – Edwards said mandatory cautions are the "next dimension" in tweaking the races.
It's a step that goes too far, he said.
"It's not gonna be a Game 7 moment every race," he said. "That's what makes some races great. To me, if you start affecting the competition like that, that is analogous to stopping a basketball game if the score gets too far apart and putting the score back even.
"That, to me is not what auto racing is about. If you let these races play out naturally, and let the racing be racing, sometimes there are some wild things that happen and things happen that are unexpected. That's what makes that true, real drama that happens every once in a while."