The Frontstretch: "Restart Circus" is the Drivers' Fault... Not NASCAR’s by Jeff Meyer -- Tuesday June 29, 2010

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"Restart Circus" is the Drivers' Fault... Not NASCAR’s

Voices From the Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Tuesday June 29, 2010

 

Recently, my esteemed Frontstretch colleague, Bryan Davis Keith, authored an article titled NASCAR To Blame For This Year’s Restart Circus. It was a very fine column… even if it was also very wrong!

Bryan’s point is that the sport has created its own problems, manipulating and exacerbating the current mess of double-file restarts we’ve seen as of late. But I say the blame, if there actually is blame to assign, rests first and foremost on the shoulders of the drivers themselves, with a healthy portion also going to the mainstream media in general – and especially on those more interested in a good story or flashy headline instead of the facts and common sense.

Now, I’m not saying that Mr. Keith is not interested in the facts. What I am saying is that the “facts” are being looked at from the wrong angle, and just because the drivers themselves are saying certain things that doesn’t make them right. Take, for instance, the following paragraph from Mr. Keith’s article:

It’s always been two-wide coming to the green! The only difference these days is who’s on your inside.

Greg Biffle remarked, “Everyone is running everybody off-track, and you either have to check out of the gas or you go for a ride.” Teammate David Ragan observed that, “Everyone from 15th on back drives like idiots those… few laps.”’ And this quote from Martin Truex, Jr.: “The guys running 10th suddenly think they’re going to win the race.”

Frankly, I am sick to death of hearing the whining of the drivers who are blaming double-file restarts for their woes! The facts of this whole thing are simple, straightforward, and will, once again, be explained here.

Fact: NASCAR has had double-file restarts for just about… well, forever!
Fact: The only thing that has changed since NASCAR started the new double-file restart is the numbers of the cars, the names of the drivers in them, and who restarts where!

Fact: I am getting tired of explaining this, but I will try once more!

Once NASCAR eliminated racing back to the line and implemented the “Lucky Dog” rule, double-file restarts, as they stand today, should have been implemented immediately and not some five years later.

Fact: Once NASCAR became more concerned about parity and took the “stock” out of stock car racing, gone were the days of a lapped car actually racing ahead of the leader and getting their lap back… and remember, that is why lapped cars restarted up front with the leaders in the first place!

So, for the last few thousands of races, long before I, or you for that matter, even cared, we have had double-file restarts! The only difference…did you hear me, Mr. Truex? Do you pick up what I’m layin’ down, Greggie? See what I’m sayin,’ Mr. Ragan… oh wait, aren’t you usually 15th or so on back? Anyways, the only difference is that on today’s restarts, the drivers who should be up front are up front!

Let’s imagine that NASCAR has just thrown a caution for debris in the closing laps of a race. Would Biffle, Ragan, Truex et al rather be wrecked by an “idiot” that is restarting ahead of them even though he (the idiot) is actually many positions behind him? Or would you rather be wrecked on a restart by the actual competitor that is closest to your own position?

A little hint for you, too, Mr. Truex. On today’s restarts, that guy in 10th place only has to pass nine cars to win the race instead of, say, 15 or 20! Maybe that is why he is racing a little crazy! After all, that is exactly the whole point of racing, right? If you can pass more easily during a restart, it’s just common sense that you are better off passing the actual cars that are ahead of you instead of cars that are “positioned” behind you!

So NASCAR finally goes and gets something right by changing the restart rules, and now the drivers are bitching about it? Hey! You drivers at the front of the pack, quit yer bitching and moaning about double-file restarts, pay attention, and drive! The idiot you’re whining about just may be the one in the mirror!

Remember not that long ago, when everyone was whining about “lapped guys out there causing the Big One?” Well, now we got the guys griping about their own abilities! Cautions have always bred cautions. Just because the cautions are now being caused by the people who should actually be racing for position doesn’t make it NASCAR’s fault!

Sounds more like a failure of execution on the drivers’ part to me.

Stay off the wall,

Jeff Meyer

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Bill B
06/29/2010 07:51 AM
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Jeff,
How is “Once NASCAR eliminated racing back to the line and implemented the “Lucky Dog” rule, double-file restarts, as they stand today, should have been implemented immediately and not some five years later.” a fact? That sounds more like an opinion to me.

Kevin
06/29/2010 11:32 AM
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I think it’s a combination of factors. Yes, the drivers certainly have a share of the blame. But they’re only in this position because of NASCAR’s relatively new rule. Beyond that, the word we all love, parity, is at least partially responsible for making it so hard to pass, therefore making track position more important, therefore putting more pressure on the drivers to get that track position. And when is the best time to do that? On a double-file restart. I think both sides deserve a share of the blame, but it all started on NASCAR’s side of things.

The Mad Man
06/29/2010 01:01 PM
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If you want to end the mess of all the wrecks that happen on these restarts, start having the drivers do the repairs on the damaged cars. They’ll gain a whole new respect for their cars and use their brains a little bit more.

Of course, this won’t solve all the problems. You’ve got some drivers who can only get ahead by bulldozing everyone else out of their way so you’ll still have wrecked cars. Just maybe not as many.

raizingkahne9
06/29/2010 01:43 PM
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If the guys on Saturday nights on the short tracks during a “cone race” can do double file restarts shouldn’t the guys in cup who are supposed to be the best there is on asphalt be able to pull it off?

Brian
06/29/2010 02:15 PM
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Jeff, Finally someone stating it how it really is. The drivers are the cause NASCAR just gave them the opportunity to drive this way.
One thing is that I would rather see a race outcome either in the first 100 laps/miles or the last 10 laps/miles be decided amongst the leaders and not due to a drive rbeing a lap OR MORE down affect the ability of the top 5 to race each other. Last I knew NASCAR rules still required a braking system and the gas pedal to function both ways.

It is just unfortunate that the racing only lasts a few laps/miles and it gets to be a parade again. Part of this is TV not showing racing either in the back of the top ten or whereever it might be on track.
At Road America one of the closest “battles” on the track after 3 laps was that for last car on the lead lap. There were three of them going at almost all race long.
One thing with a road course in person you actually see all the battles since you do see only what is right there in front of you. Actually kind of entertaining.

RMann5
06/29/2010 02:43 PM
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Pretty cocky Jeff but wrong.If a race car driver could go pass a car he would, It’s the aero that is making these guys drive like fools.

RMann5
06/29/2010 02:47 PM
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Now go back to the statement about (the lucky dog) If you can pass the lucky dog is not needed. Ends the debate right?

Jeff Meyer-FS staff
06/29/2010 04:02 PM
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To Bill B.

The sentence you quote does not have the word ‘Fact:’ in front of it in the article. The FACT was…if you look again, I am getting tired of explaining it all the time!

pepper
06/29/2010 05:15 PM
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Your poll lacked a proper choice. Robin Pemberton. Since his infamous words, “have at it boys”, the racing has deteriorated. Put the blame where it really lies.

DoninAjax
06/29/2010 07:34 PM
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Blaming Robin is like shooting the messenger. He is just a toady for Brian.

How about this. For a gwc, once the advertised distance is reached, the cars not on the lead lap leave the track and the lead lap cars finish the race with a single line restart. That should cut it down to about twenty cars at most tracks. Now that is a shootout.

Bill B
06/30/2010 09:16 AM
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Sorry Jeff, I thought that was all one thought. I stand corrected….
nevermind.

Mike In NH
06/30/2010 10:20 AM
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I’m sorry, I have simply not been able to grasp how having the guys at the head of the field restarting at the head of the fieldis wrong. Maybe some of these drivers have been spoiled having the only competitive driver being the guy right behind you, like it used to be.

Also, you can’t blame an inanimate object – the car and its aero package – for a driver’s inability to restart clean. They’re all out there in the same car, dealing with the same issue, and not all of them are crashing, only the ones lacking the skill to control this not-always-easy-to-drive (nor should it be) car.

If you want a car that does all the work for you to make it easier on the driver, try IRL (push button pit lane speed control, for starters) or F1 (and its bazillion adjustment controls on the steering wheel). To me, the car at the top level of a series should NOT be easy to drive – the easy to drive car should be at the lowest level, where the newbies are. Each step up should make driving the car harder.

JR
06/30/2010 01:54 PM
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The problem with double file restarts (both the old and new way), the wave around rule and the “lucky dog” rule is that all these rules give position on the race track that was not earned by the driver. In the case of the old double file restarts, cars running at the end of the pack restart up front. In the new double file restart scenario, the 2nd place car may have been unable to pass the leader during the previous 75 laps but because of a caution (often times the dreaded “mystery caution), the 2nd place car is now sided by side with the leader. The wave around rule and the lucky dog both give drivers a lot of track real estate they didn’t have to drive hard to get. All of these things were implemented for one purpose, to try and keep the excitement level artificially high so our fans won’t get bored and stop spending their money. I, for one, would rather see an honest outcome rather than a contrived one. And that, Jeff, is the “fact” according to me.

Jeff Meyer - FS Staff
06/30/2010 06:25 PM
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To JR
You are ALMOST with me!
I understand why lapped guys used to start up front on a restart. If you could at least stay with the leader until the next caution, he usually (per gentlemans agreement) would give you your lap back when the yellow came out. However, once drivers stopped being so nice and actually started racing back to the line, nascar had to eliminate that due to safety and implemented the Lucky dog. As I have said all along, once nascar did that, there was no longer any reason for the lapped guys to restart up front. It didn’t matter where the guy was on track, the first guy a lap down got it back. It was then that nascar should have started double file restarts as we have them now.

As for giving guys a lot of unearned real estate, yeah, P2 is restarting side by side of the leader (and so on and so forth on back) but is that not how they START the race?!!! After all, it IS a ‘re-start’ and they should all be lined up in the actually position they are in, just as at the first drop of the green flag!!!!

To Bill B:
No worries, my man. Sorry if I came across a little snotty. Twas not my intention!

-JDM

 

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