Motorsport News

Have Stage Breaks & Points Run Their Course?

2024 Cup COTA pack racing V - Austin Dillon, No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet (Credit: NKP)

The NASCAR Cup Series race this past weekend at Circuit of The Americas wasn’t quite what we remembered from the first race here — or the NASCAR Xfinity Series race the day before — and definitely not the week prior at Bristol Motor Speedway. With no cautions during the race other than the stage breaks, the strategy was pretty much predetermined with fuel outlasting tires for the most part.

On Tuesday (March 26), Richard Petty posted a video on Instagram with cousin and crew chief Dale Inman, who feels they should get rid of stage breaks and points all together.

So we got to thinking, should we heed the decree of The King? Is it time to put the brakes on breaks and stage points all together? This week Wyatt Watson and Joy Tomlinson break it down in 2-Headed Monster.

Stage Breaks Have Got to Go

Since the inception of stage breaks in 2017, I have despised throwing a ‘fun’ caution to build up entertainment for a race, and I’m glad The King agrees that the practice stages and stage points should be eliminated altogether.

However, I’m just as opposed to throwing the once reviled ‘phantom caution’ as I am awarding stage points in the middle of races. Stage points are a unique way to reward drivers for their performance during the middle of the race much like awarding bonus points for leading a lap or leading the most laps previously. I wouldn’t mind if NASCAR changes back to a more traditional points format of rewarding points just at the end, but I would prefer to keep stage points as they are and just eliminate the playoffs entirely.

The biggest issue with stage cautions is that it interrupts the natural flow of the race in order to just build up artificial drama and entertainment for each and every race. Although last year’s Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course race had only one caution for incident, the greatest part about it was seeing the likes of Michael McDowell, Chase Elliott and Daniel Suarez amongst others play strategy and made every green flag cycle important for the overall race.

As we saw at last year’s race at Circuit of the Americas, chaos can still take place without the implementation of stage cautions. Last year’s race quadrupled the amount of cautions we saw last Sunday (March 24), and each of those cautions were due to either reasonable debris or for incident.

Although different restart procedures were used this year compared to last year. NASCAR implemented a new restart…

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