NASCAR's Double-File Restarts Aren't Causing Half the Trouble Critics Expected

Kelly CrandallSenior Writer IAugust 13, 2009

There should be no hesitation on anyone’s part that one of the best things NASCAR has ever done was implement the double-file restarts.

After spectacular racing and tremendous feedback from the Sprint All-Star race in May, NASCAR decided that beginning in June, at Pocono, the Sprint Cup Series would go to double-file restarts. The Nationwide Series implemented them a few weeks later. 

It has been an instant success, making races that are normally strung out and follow the leader become much more interesting. It’s now no guarantee that the leader of the race during a late restart will go on to win because he’ll have to drag race the second place car, instead of trying to block him.

Another plus is that now all the leaders have a fair chance to race each other for the win and not get hung up with lap down cars as the rest of the field drives away. That's something that many people have been begging for since the beginning of time. 

Double-file restarts have been a win-win for everyone: the fans are seeing great racing, drivers are getting better chances to race for good track position and win races, while NASCAR looks great for implementing a change for the good.

However, with the good always comes the bad, and not just the bad of having to listen to the broadcasters call it “Double-file restarts: shootout style” every five minutes.

No, the bad it seems comes from drivers and media members making something out of nothing in regards to how the restarts are going to play out. It isn’t their fault, it would appear that when you have 43 cars and the leaders racing for a win in the late stages of the race and they all go barreling into turn one, there should be a massive wreck.

Looks can be deceiving.

After nine races in the Sprint Cup Series and six for the Nationwide Series with the new restarts, there has not been that big accident or change in the racing that everyone has repeatedly predicted. The racing has been better for sure, but the accidents have not been bigger.

Of course there have been accidents, it is auto racing, but there has not been that throw the green flag, all charge for turn one and pile them up. Have no fear though because the horse continues to be beat every weekend, and all a sudden whatever track the series comes, to they now have a treacherous turn one.

With the Chase right around the corner, all the rage was Watkins Glen this past weekend being a wild card, just Indianapolis was because it was so narrow, just as Daytona was because it was a restrictor plate race, and just like Pocono was because of it’s tricky turns.

Jimmie Johnson said on Friday that they were all going to go down in turn one and wad up all the leaders. That sentiment was echoed all weekend with others saying they couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen in turn one.

Well, guess what, all of those wild card races and at all those "treacherous" tracks there was not one pile up in turn one on a restart. Every weekend 43 of NASCAR’s best drivers charge into turn one and don’t cause a massive wreck. Yes, it’s quite shocking.

Even more shocking is that a horrible race was being predicted for the Glen, like the many before it, when the previous road course race produced one hell of a battle between Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart because of four double-file restarts.

And once again, just unlike it was predicted, there was no turn one wreck.

Race cars going side-by-side into the corners is nothing new. It used to be leaders on the outside and lap down cars to the inside, now though it’s just the leaders side-by-side. Not much difference there, but when the rule change was announced there was such uproar about how things were going to be different you would have thought NASCAR had told they now have to race backwards.

So far double-file restarts have been tested at an intermediate, two road courses, two superspeedways, and twice on a triangle, and thus far we have yet to see a junkyard in turn one. If it hasn’t happened yet, then it’s most likely not going to—it could but so far we’ve seen NASCAR’s best show they are the best.

As hard as many have tried to continue to try and sell that double-file restarts, oh excuse me, double-file restarts: shootout style, are a disaster waiting to happen, just remember to beware of business men that come wearing a suit adorned with corporate logos.