Stage break cautions to return at the Roval

NASCAR will revert to throwing cautions at the end of the stage breaks when the Xfinity Series and Cup Series return to the Charlotte Roval next month for its playoff races.

Elton Sawyer, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition, announced the change on Tuesday morning on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Sawyer pointed to consistent officiating as the reason.

“I’m sure the question from our fans and even our competitors is, why do that now?” Sawyer said. “Well, one reason is that we want to make sure that throughout the playoffs, in the 10-race Cup Series playoffs, we were officiating across the board the same way. So, now we will be. All of our races will have caution stage breaks that includes the Roval.


“Probably the most important part of this decision-making was, if you look back at our five previous road course races, although they were competitive, there were some that felt like there were some things we could do differently – obviously going back to the caution stage breaks – that would make our races better.

“So, we had the option to pull that lever working closely with our broadcast partners, our folks at Speedway Motorsports in Charlotte, and our industry stakeholders.

“It felt like the timing was right to do that as we head into the playoffs and finish out the first round, and head into the second round.”

Industry feedback about having more strategy options with the race playing out naturally resulted in NASCAR going away from stage breaks coming into the season. The five road course races in the regular season played out naturally, with NASCAR awarding points to the top 10 drivers at the designated stage, but the race did not stop.

Indianapolis and Watkins Glen were the shortest of the road course races. Indianapolis had one natural caution and ran in two hours, nine minutes. Watkins Glen also had one caution and finished in one hour, 58 minutes.

In addition to announcing the return of stage breaks, Sawyer also confirmed the restart zone location will be moved in hopes of spreading the field out before the first turn (where there have been multicar crashes on restarts in the past).

For the Charlotte race, which will be the elimination race of the second round, it will be at the exit of the frontstretch chicane.

“One thing we looked at as far as the road courses, we had a situation at Indy a couple of years ago where late restarts we put our drivers in a bad spot where they’re five and six wide,” Sawyer said. “Which is great, it’s great racing, but it also becomes a bad spot for them, and it tears up a lot of vehicles, and we can end up with multiple overtime restarts. So, we changed that at Indy this year. The competitors really liked that, felt like it gave us great racing. As well as (at) Chicago, as we fall back there.

“It’ll give us a little bit of separation in the first two or three rows as they head off into Turn 1. So, excited about those two adjustments for the Roval and looking forward to a great race there as we head off into the second round.”

Story originally appeared on Racer