Thursday, February 11, 2010
Green-white-checker rule expanded
By David Newton
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR officials told drivers before Thursday's 150-mile qualifying races that it will have up to three green-white-checkered restarts if the first and second attempts don't make it through the first lap without a caution.
A green-white-checkered finish signifies two laps will be run. NASCAR throws a green flag and the cars race a lap until the white flag -- signifying the final lap of a race -- is shown and then the drivers race that final lap to the checkered-flag finish.
The first implementation of the new three-attempt rule will come in the qualifiers that will determine the starting lineup from the second row back for Sunday's Daytona 500.
The front row, with Mark Martin on the pole and Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the outside, was set Saturday in pole qualifying.
The new rule will be used in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck series.
Adding a restart was spawned by complaints following Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout in which Kevin Harvick won under caution after a wreck on the lone green-white-checkered attempt. It was discussed initially with drivers Wednesday morning in a safety meeting.
"We're constantly looking to improve this for the fans," event director David Hoots said.
In the past, drivers have had only one shot at a green-white-checkered finish. At many tracks, particularly superspeedways Daytona and Talladega, a caution often comes out before the conclusion.
NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said the new rule will hopefully allow more races to finish under green.
Four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon is all for the move, but would like to see a one-lap attempt instead of two, noting an attempt where the green and white flags fly together would allow drivers to race to the finish line because any wreck would be behind them.
"They could do 10 green-white-checkereds and we're still not going to make it to the checkered," Gordon said. "You give us two laps, we're going to find a way to wreck. You go green-checkered, there wouldn't be a caution.
"I'm merely only saying if they do a green-white-checkered and you don't make it back around for the checkered under green, you do a green-checkered and call it good."
Gordon also expressed in the drivers' meeting concern that more races will be decided by fuel mileage.
Mark Martin expressed concerns about the sport's integrity with yet another rules change.
"It can get a little like a circus," he said.
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com.