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Motorsports 101 Debate: Does NASCAR’s Restart Rule Need to Be Changed?

June 5th, 2013 at 10:08 AM
By Mark Eddinger
Much of the talk since the finish of the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway has been about the final restart in which Jimmie Johnson beat leader Juan Pablo Montoya to the start finish line and was black flagged with a pass through penalty. Johnson claimed that he tried to give the spot back and that Montoya had spun his tires. The rule is that the driver in second on the restart cannot beat the leader to the start finish line on the restart. Jimmie Johnson clearly did that and was penalized for it. Motorsports 101 debates whether the restart rule needs to be changed.
 
'Jimmie Johnson, 2013 STP Gas Booster 500' photo (c) 2013, chayes_2014 - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
 
Green Flag Should Restart the Race – By Clayton Caldwell
 
Ever since NASCAR has gone to the double file shootout style restarts the restart rule NASCAR has in place has been an issue. There is an imaginary box between where the leader can start to accelerate on a restart. Sometimes the leader can play games with the second place driver and ruin a perfectly good day for that driver. If NASCAR determines a driver spun their tires, then they can make it a legal restart and the race continues as is, but on Sunday that wasn’t the case.

I hate the rule and always have. I understand what NASCAR is trying to do, which is give the leader of the race some kind of advantage on the restart since, after all, they are the leader but to me the leader is already at an advantage because the leader gets to choose what line they are in for the restart. 
 
A late race restart should come down to one thing. Talent. That’s what race fans want to see. We watch the sport to see the best drivers in the business do incredible things with racecars. That’s the fun of it. Why take a duel away from the fans? It would be exciting for NASCAR to say, once the flag drops it’s fair game. Once the green flag is in the air the race is restarted and it’s on from that point. Whatever happens, happens. 
 
Don’t tell me they can’t do it that way. They do it that way every time at the initial green flag of a race and no one has a problem with it. It’s easy. You eliminate a grey area in which NASCAR can determine the outcome. I don’t trust NASCAR to make a correct call every time, they are human and I hate seeing races being determined by NASCAR’s ruling rather than pure talent and skill. To me, that’d be the best way at handling it.
 
Minor Tweak Needed to the Rule – By Mark Eddinger
 
Let's start by saying that NASCAR made the correct call on Sunday by sending the five-time champion to pit road for a pass through penalty for jumping the decisive last restart in the race at Dover. By rule he beat Montoya, who was the leader and had control of the restart, to the start-finish line and that warrants a penalty under the current rule.
 
'Juan Montoya' photo (c) 2012, Mike Kalasnik - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
 
The rule is flawed in one aspect. The leader should not be guaranteed to get to the start-finish line first. The only thing the leader should be assured of is that they get to accelerate first to start the restart. By doing this anywhere within the restart box that NASCAR has on each track the leader has full control of the race.
 
If the second place driver anticipates the restart and then gets through the gears better than the leader and beats him to the start finish line then there should be no penalty.
 
Jimmie Johnson's problem on Sunday was that he accelerated before Montoya did which is why he had such a large advantage when he got to the start-finish line. Montoya realized that Johnson went first and did the right thing by letting Johnson just take off so that the mistake was more pronounced and NASCAR was forced to call the No. 48 car to pit road.
 
The restart rule is perfectly fine in NASCAR the way it is right now besides the point where the leader needs to be the first to the start-finish line.
Tags: Clayton Caldwell, FedEx 400, Jimmie Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya, Mark Eddinger, Motorsports, NASCAR

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