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Voices From the Heartland: “Restart Circus” is the Drivers’ Fault… Not NASCAR’s

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:

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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