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Think of it as a ‘time-out' during the race. Several things can cause a caution period during a race; an accident, debris on the track or for any reason that NASCAR decides they need to slow the field down and cease competition. NASCAR can also choose to throw out a ‘competition' yellow. This is a planned yellow that NASCAR will tell teams about in advance, and is most often used to check tire wear on a new or repaved track surface.