A JOURNEY STARTS WITH A SINGLE STEP
NASCAR GOES INTO OVERTIME
NASCAR’s regulations seem to be in a
constant state of evolution, but if recent
history is any guide, the lineup of title
contenders should look fairly familiar.
Jimmie Johnson’s victory at Atlanta
drew him level with Dale Earnhardt on the
all-time winner’s list and set the wheels in
motion for another attempt at a seventh
title, while Chase regular Denny Hamlin’s
campaign began with the closest
Daytona 500 finish ever. The Joe Gibbs
Racing driver earned that distinction at
the expense of Martin Truex Jr., who was
despondent to have fallen just a couple
of inches short after a photo finish.
Defending champion Kyle Busch
opened his season with a couple of third
NASCAR has sought to remove the
confusion that often surrounds late
cautions by changing to a new green-and-
white checker protocol and using an
“overtime line” to establish the winner.
Under the new procedure, if the race
leader crosses the overtime line on the
first lap under green before a yellow flag
comes out, the restart will be declared
valid. If there is a caution before the
leader gets to the line, the restart will be
waved off. The process will continue until
there is a valid start.
places – a stark contrast to last year,
when he opened his rollercoaster season
with a couple of broken legs.
But while many of the same drivers are
expected to feature in the final run to the
title, the real question is, who can step up
to challenge them? Penske’s Joey Logano
will certainly be looking for validation
after his highlight reel 2015 season – a
campaign that included a series-high
six wins – was brought undone by a
controversial encounter with Matt
Kenseth in the closing laps at Martinsville,
then tire problems in Texas a week later.
But that’s how playoff systems work –
what happened before doesn’t matter if
you don’t get the result when it counts.
The Sprint Unlimited at Dayonta gave
the new procedure an early debut
Reigning champion Kyle Busch began his
2016 season without crutches, which is
a massive upgrade on his situation 12
months ago when he was injured in a
crash leading up to the Daytona 500.
2015 campaign was
grounded by a
couple of bad races
late in the Chase
A lot of racing stands between now and the crowning of 2016’s Sprint Cup champion, but a few contenders have fired early shots.
Revamp of procedure for late restarts should add excitement - and clarity.
68 SPRING 2016
Previously, NASCAR mandated a
maximum of three attempts to complete
a Sprint Cup race.
The new system was used for the first
time during the Sprint Unlimited race at
Daytona in February.
“I get what they’re trying to do,”
noted Roush-Fenway Racing’s Greg
Biffle.“They’re trying to prevent people
from changing the outcome of the race
and make that mark back there, and that
makes sense. It’ll take us a little bit to get
used to that, but I understand it.”