Did NASCAR's Rule Changes Create Green-White-Checkers or Green-White-Wreckers?
The one thing about NASCAR that everyone can agree with is that they are constantly looking out for the fan. With the changes Brian France has initiated for this season, the sport is heading back to focus on what got them to this point...the fans.
I am all for the changes that have been made to better suit the fans. The standard start times work perfectly, as it's how it was back in the 1990s when NASCAR was booming. To get to the track has become more expensive, so many tracks have dropped ticket prices to compensate.
However, no change has been more monumental than the move by NASCAR to try and finish a race under the green flag.
Let's face it, we pay a lot of money to see a good race, and to see the leader take the checkered flag behind a pace car hinders a good event.
When NASCAR decided to make the change years ago to finish races under green so the fans get the best show, I was on board 100 percent.
Earlier this week, it was decided that making one attempt to finish the race under green still wasn't working. So, they made another change, and decided that there will be up to three attempts to get the race finished under green.
Let's break it down and explain how it works.
- OLD RULE: Under green-white-checkered rules, once the green flag flew, should a caution come out, the field was frozen and the race was over.
- NEW RULE: If the caution comes out BEFORE the leader takes the white flag, up to three attempts will be made to finish under green.
- On the third attempt, it will be like the old rule in that the field will be frozen.
I am all for this change because NASCAR wants to finish the race with the guys running full throttle, not at a pace similar to the highway. I do, however, have my concerns at whether this could be hurtful at some race tracks.
To understand where I'm coming from, you have to go back and look at the origins of how this rule came into effect. First, back at the turn of the 21st century, NASCAR had no rule for freezing the field, or the "lucky dog."
Once a caution came out, the leader would lift off the gas and some drivers would pass to get a lap back. This became an issue at New Hampshire one year when Dale Jarrett wrecked out of turn four and the field continued running full bore to the start/finish line.
Jarrett was angry at the action, so the next week the rule was put into effect, and it has proven that it works. There have been times when finding the right position during a round of pit stops has become troublesome, but overall, it's worked.
Then you have the second part, the field ending under caution. NASCAR has always done right when there's a major accident late in the race, especially with less than 10 laps remaining. More often than not, they will halt the field and post the red flag so that the crews can clean the track, and at least attempt to finish under green.
When it was announced that NASCAR would put into effect the green-white-checkered rule, this practice was still used, but not as often.
This rule change has proved both good and evil for certain drivers, but now there's a strong chance that it could be more of a devil than an angel.
Drivers themselves are on the fence about it, with some in favor of the change and some not sure about it. The people who are going to be going crazy with this change are definitely crew chiefs, in case it comes down to fuel mileage.
We in the media and many crew chiefs agree that they run the race backwards on fuel mileage, but you add in these extra laps, it changes that perspective.
We aren't sure what it will do for the competition until we see it actually get used. They may start wrecking every lap, or they could be calm and cool just battling to the finish.
We could even see a race like we had on Thursday, with two events coming down to a photo finish to determine the winner.
It's unclear because it's untested. All three series have this change, so it's a matter of seeing who gets to try it out first.
Will they see the checkers, or will they see the wreckers? Watch and see.
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