Yes, cautions are way down through the first six races of 2018

Wondering if cautions are down in the Cup Series in 2018? You’re onto something.

There have been 32 cautions through the first six races of the 2018 season. In 2017, the first year of the stage racing format in NASCAR, the first six races had 49 combined cautions.

Martinsville is a big reason why the discrepancy is so large. Last week’s race at the track had just four cautions. There were 14 cautions a year ago at the half-mile track. But while the trend is exaggerated because of Martinsville, it still exists without it. There were 35 cautions through the first five races of the season in 2017 and 28 in 2018.

As NBC points out, the decline in cautions in 2018 is part of a long-term trend. The first six races of 2008 had 66 cautions.

That’s a huge drop and one partially attributable to the decline in debris cautions in the Cup Series. There were 13 debris cautions in 2008. There’s been one debris caution (in the Daytona 500) in 2018. NASCAR’s reluctance to throw debris cautions in the stage racing era is a real thing.

That’s not the only factor, however. There have been far fewer crashes in 2018 than in 2008. And the fifth race of 2008 was at Bristol, a track known for cautions. Bristol is the eighth race of the 2018 season.

NBC’s NASCAR analysts give their opinions on the caution decline in the video above. Why are drivers crashing less and less? Is NASCAR’s reticence to call debris cautions a good or bad thing? Give us your opinion in the comments below.

– – – – – – –

Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

More from Yahoo Sports:
Pat Forde: How Villanova’s sixth man became an NCAA legend
Report: Tony Stewart reaches deal in wrongful death suit
Pete Thamel: Beilein still best college coach without a title
Eric Adelson: Why Lamar Jackson may turn into NFL’s ‘biggest travesty’