Wednesday, February 10, 2010

More Possible Rule Changes In Store

(Daytona Beach, Fla.) – Less than a week after the confusing finish to the Budweiser Shootout, NASCAR appears poised to alter the Green-White-Checkered rule for the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series.

According to reports, starting with Thursday’s Gatorade Duel 150s NASCAR will attempt to finish every race with a checkered flag and not the yellow. As the rule stands now, the field has one attempt to complete two extra laps in the case of a late-race caution. If the caution is thrown at any time during that time the field is frozen and the race is ended. Thursday that could all change.

With such confusion over Saturday’s finish, NASCAR is now ready to implement the ‘have-at-it-boys’ policy on the green-white-checkered rule. Under the new policy, NASCAR would allow the field to reset and try as many times as necessary to finish the race under green. If the caution is thrown before the field takes the white flag, they will double up and try again. Rumors are that if an incident occurs on the white flag lap behind the leaders, the race would be to the checkers (much like the 2007 Daytona 500).

“I think it’s good,” Denny Hamlin said. “Me personally, as a fan, I would’ve thought that the (Bud Shootout) finish was kind of not that great on Saturday night, but once again they can’t change the rule right in the middle of the race. Once again, they’re doing everything they can to make everyone happy and make sure we have good finishes and it’s just another step in the right direction.”

Adding his two cents to the mix, Ryan Newman admitted he was unsure how the new rule would come into play, saying, “I think every time we can end a race at the checkered flag at speed, then it is great for the fans. That is ultimately what it is all about.”

Four-time champion Jeff Gordon was involved in the last-lap incident in Saturday’s Shootout and believes the finish was good enough the way it was. While he understands NASCAR’s perspective, Gordon wouldn’t allow unlimited tries at the finish.

“They could do ten green-white-checkereds and we’re still not going to make it to the checkered,” Gordon argued. “It just needs to be one lap, take the green and finish after we attempt one green-white-checkered.”

Gordon went on to make the point fuel mileage is such a concern late in the race that by extending the race to unlimited attempts there will be more problems than it is worth.

The argument, much like Gordon’s point, is the new rule would simply lead to more wrecks and destroyed race cars. Gordon’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Mark Martin believes this would be a slippery slope.

“At this level, I feel that we have to try to hold on to some sort of integrity,” Martin said. “And for me, it gets a little bit like a circus.”

While nothing official has yet to be announced by NASCAR, it is expected that will occur at some point tomorrow prior to the Gatorade Duel 150s. Whether this rule will add to the excitement or lead to more wrecked race cars is uncertain and time will only tell.

Addressing that issue, Newman explained the action on the track is in the hands of the drivers, not NASCAR.

“Drivers control the race cars,” Newman said. “We can crash on the first lap or we can crash on the last lap. It is up to us to decide when.”

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