Cup Drivers Weigh In On Double File Restarts at Pocono Raceway

Mary Jo BuchananSenior Writer IJune 5, 2009

DOVER, DE - MAY 29:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet, stands in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway on May 29, 2009 in Dover, Delaware.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

It's still raining at Pocono Raceway and the ARCA qualifying has been scrapped for the day.  After gong out of the media center for just a few minutes, the rain is still failing pretty steadily and the wind makes it feel downright chilly.

In spite of the rain, there has been a steady parade of Cup drivers in the media center, dressed in rain slickers, hoodies and hats.  And the topic of the day has not been surprising: double file restarts.

David Reutimann started out the day with the most humorous take on the new restart policy.  He did not even know that NASCAR was instituting the double file restart this weekend.

"I thought we were doing this further down the road," said Reutimann.  "I didn't even know we were starting this weekend."

Reutimann continued, "NASCAR listened to what the fans wanted" with the double file restarts.  "It will work for you or against you."

Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevy, had plenty to say about the new restart policy. 

"For the fans, it will be great but for the drivers it will increase our workload," he said.

Burton continued, "As hectic as restarts are now, it will increase two-fold.  We will be racing people who are fast.  It will be harder and more competitive.  Restarts will be very aggressive."

When asked if he was surprised that NASCAR instituted the rule change so quickly, Burton said, "I'm shocked we are doing this this year.  I thought there was no way that we would do this in 2009."

Burton continued, "I'm not saying that it's wrong, I'm just shocked."

Matt Kenseth, who is currently eighth in points, quipped that the double file restarts will "create two races, the race for the lead and the race for the lucky dog."

Ryan Newman put it another way, saying the double start is NASCAR's way of "tricking it up." 

Newman advised that racing is all about delivering entertainment to the fans, saying if NASCAR wanted them to go backwards for a few laps, "we will do it."

"There is always two sides to the coin" when NASCAR changes things Greg Biffle said. "The plus is that it will make it more exciting and we will not have to race lapped cars anymore."

Biffle continued, "The negative side of that is at places like Martinsville, it might be 10 cars before you get down.  There it's just going to suck."

Kyle Busch, probably one of the most aggressive drivers on restarts, said that he intended to be calm on the double file restarts.  "But with 50 or 100 miles to go, I will get aggressive."

Immediate past Champion Jimmie Johnson seemed most tentative about the new double file restart policy.  "The leaders can have control and that's a good thing".

Johnson continued, "You will be racing the cars that you should be racing.  That's going to be good".

But Johnson seemed concerned that there will be some advantage given to the lap cars who are then waved around.  He is especially worried that this could happen at a track like Pocono.

NASCAR is holding a special drivers' meeting to address the restart changes.  Apparently, there is some confusion amongst the drivers, particularly about the wavearound issue, that they want to address.

Whether the drivers love it or hate, NASCAR has listened and responded to the fans on this issue.  And when the green flag drops at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, the double file restart change will indeed be put to the test.