NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Fan’s View: NASCAR, Take Your Double-File Restarts to the Back of the Class

OK folks, I’m gonna try not to rant. It’s gonna be difficult, but I will make an effort.

Whose idiotic idea was double file restarts anyway? This sensation sweeping through the highest echelons of our sport seems to indicate we’ve found something new. That is just malarkey… bologna… cow pies… horse apples… choose your favorite colorful epitaph.

I am one of the dyed in the wool fans that believes in beatin’ and bangin’. I love to see all the drivers trade sheetmetal. If a car makes it to the finish line devoid of any donuts on their door, the driver’s not doing something right. That being said….

I am not in favor of NASCAR turning into a demolition derby for the sake of TV ratings and that is what the infamous “shoot-out” style restarts are doing. Maybe Jeff Burton did a 180 on his endorsement of this season’s big rules change when he declared, “I am about done with [double-file restarts].” But, I’ve thought this was a dumb idea from the beginning.

Through the years, I came to look at our lap down on the inside system something of a graduation gift for making it to the big leagues. At my local short track where Joe’s Garage is racing against a big name from Charlotte, it makes sense to have the sputtering 20th-place car restart in the back of the pack. Joe will most likely get run over by the sunglass-sporting star from the South, either by superior equipment or stellar driving.

In the Cup Series, often the lap down car that used to restart next to the leader is just as fast as the leaders. Or, even if his engine doesn’t have as many horses as the champion next to him, he does have the talent to restart next to the best in the sport. Getting trapped in the pits, a blown tire, a blind rookie… anything may have resulted in that car going the lap down. Why shouldn’t any competitor have the opportunity to win his lap back the old-fashioned honest way, by outrunning the leader?

Who said turning the race into a pair of 500 milers on the track was good? There’s the lead lap and then everyone else waiting to be awarded the Lucky Dog. We could just run a 100-lap qualifier, and then only let the top-20 teams compete for the win…would that be better? Or if allowing anybody to climb their way through the ranks through muscle power really bothers you, we could just cancel the race altogether and award the trophy based on the qualifying runs. Just think! A winner declared based on 60 seconds of speed….

The one thing that the double-file restarts have given us is bare-fisted brawls on every restart after halfway. Since all the teams are competing for position, all bets are off and the thought of pulling a punch flying into turn 1 simply isn’t contemplated. Some may be calling these restarts great racing, but in reality they are only great TV.

In the past, it’s been the standard gripe on the radio to hear Jeff Gordon or Tony Stewart scream about the lap-down cars that are in their way, but isn’t that really the whole point of racing? Why does it matter if it’s a team in 30th or in third that’s hogging the track? In recent weeks, it’s very clear that the stars of the sport are equally capable of wrecking whether they are about to win or simply making it to the finish line.

NASCAR is fooling themselves if they think banishing the lap-down cars to the back will accomplish anything. Step after step, the sanctioning body is taking away opportunities to let the cars and drivers do what they were designed to do – race.

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