Those who watched Sunday’s Geico 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., probably know by now that NASCAR tweaked its restart rules on Sunday, just before the race. There have been several complaints from both drivers and fans this year in regards to the now-former restart rules and how the were, or weren’t, eforced.
As a result, changes have been made that now allow cars other than the leader to cross the start/finish line on a restart before the race leader. Like before, the leader is still the one to restart the race within the allowable restart zone, but if that leader has a hiccup on said restart, i.e. spins his/her tires, it’s now okay for the second-place car, or anyone else for that matter, to actually cross the start/finish line ahead of the leader.
The previous rule stated that the race leader had to cross the start/finish line first. This posed an issue when the leader spun his tires or had some other kind of issue. Also, many drivers learned to take advantage of the rule by starting and then hesitating, causing the second-place car to move ahead and cross the line first. That would often result in the second-place car being black-flagged for an unintentional jumped restart.
NASCAR officials eventually got to the point that they made enforcing this rule a judgement call. If the leader spun his tires or slowed up after restarting, the second-place car wasn’t black-flagged for getting to the line first. This new rule is aimed at eliminating this grey area.
“It will take out one area of subjectivity on our part, and we know it will move it to some other areas,” NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said, according to the Sporting News. “It’s too competitive out there right now.”
By the new rule, once the leader has accelerated in the restart zone, the race is restarted and it doesn’t matter who crosses the line first.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR