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Winston Cup Series

Saturday, July 6

Fans unhappy about yellow-flag finish
Associated Press

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The fans are apparently frustrated over NASCAR's inconsistency with the rules. They showed as much Saturday night, by pelting the cars with debris in what looked like a protest to the Pepsi 400 ending under caution.

When a yellow flag came out with three laps to go at Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR did not stop the race and Michael Waltrip won under caution. As the cars circled around the track for the final three laps, fans sitting along the backstretch tossed programs, seat cushions and bottles over the grandstand fence.

``That was wild, I had some sort of bottle or something bounce right off my hood,'' Jeremy Mayfield said. ``I guess they were mad because no one knows when races are going to be stopped and when they aren't. We don't understand it, either.

``But if they went back green, it was going to be mayhem for the last lap. I guess we got it anyway with the fans throwing all that stuff.''

NASCAR has no clear-cut rule on stopping races.

They halted the Daytona 500 here in February to ensure a competitive finish after a multicar pileup with seven laps to go.

A week later, in almost an identical situation, it reversed its stance at Rockingham and allowed the race to continue to an anticlimactic yellow-flag finish. They stopped the race in Michigan last month when caution came out with six laps to go.

But they didn't do it here, which was consistent with how NASCAR officials have explained how they make the decision.

When a red flag comes out, there has to be enough laps left in the race for the pace car to first pick of the field and go around the track once, then the pits have to be opened on the next lap to give cars an opportunity for service.

That would have left one lap left on Saturday night, which NASCAR said was not enough time for a green-flag finish.

``I'm totally comfortable that we did the right thing tonight,'' NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said.

As much as the drivers want a set rule and have expressed their own frustration over the inconsistency, most were stunned by the fans' reaction.

``It created a danger to the drivers,'' Kyle Petty said. ``I understand the anger over the inconsistency of stopping some races and not stopping others. But that's not my fault, don't take it out on me. Thirty years ago it wasn't nothing to get a bottle tossed through your window, and tonight the sport went back 30 years.''

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