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Bud Shootout finish ruins a great Saturday for NASCAR

By admin | February 6, 2010

By Richard Allen

Everything seemed to be going so well for NASCAR on Saturday.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr., the sport’s most popular driver, looked to take the first step toward a comeback by qualifying on the outside of the front row for next weekend’s Daytona 500. After a disastrous 2009, NASCAR needs its top fan favorite to recover and contend for race wins and championships. Last year was a nightmare as he did neither. A strong qualifying run gave his fans something to be excited about, which is good for the sport.

After Daytona 500 qualifying, NASCAR had another good thing to happen. Even though it was in an ARCA Series race, one of the sanctioning body’s rising stars had a good day. Danica Patrick made her much anticipated stock car debut(or NASCAR debut as one ESPN radio sportscaster called it). She raced well, made a nice save and scored a top-10 finish. Such a run bodes well for her Nationwide Series future, possibly beginning next Saturday in Daytona.

After the earlier happenings came the main event at the Daytona International Speedway. The Budweiser Shootout, a traditional preliminary event leading up to the ‘Great American Race’, rolled off under the lights. The racing was tight and exciting, especially in the final 50 lap segment. And, there were no significant bump drafting incidents until the closing laps.

However, it is those last laps that come into question. Jeff Gordon appeared to get into Greg Biffle going into turn 3, possibly because of a flat tire, which caused the #16 Ford to spin and collect a number of other cars. The race was called when the caution came out and Kevin Harvick was declared the winner.

Here is the problem I have with the way the race ended. Whenever a caution comes out with more than two laps to go NASCAR seems to always run the laps down to two to go and then say this is the one shot at a green/white/checkered finish.

To me, that violates the spirit of the g/w/c rule. In my opinion, if the track is cleared with two laps or more to go, that is not the time for a g/w/c finish. If the track is cleared by the time of two to go then that should just be a normal restart. Then, if something happens before the cars get back to the white flag there should be a g/w/c finish.

Besides calling a g/w/c finish at the wrong time, there was a question as to whether or not this particular race was supposed to finish under green no matter how many tries it took. Even Harvick said after the race that he thought the race had to end under green. One circulating story cited an obscure note in the television contract that said the race was to finish as soon as possible in the event the race had extended beyond 10:00pm eastern time. Hopefully, that story was incorrect and NASCAR is not in the business of cheating paying fans out of a green flag finish so local Fox affiliates can show an ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ rerun leading into the local news.

Notice from here on at how many times the track appears ready for racing after a late caution but the laps are run down to two to go and then a green/white/checkered finish is called for.

The green/white/checkered rule is a good one. NASCAR should go out of their way to make sure it is used as it ought to be instead of the way that is convenient for the television networks.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.

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12 Responses to “Bud Shootout finish ruins a great Saturday for NASCAR”

  1. Tim Says:
    February 7th, 2010 at 12:08 am

    Harvick said the read the entry form and it said it had to end under green, even if that was incorrect, you are correct, and this was not a “overtime green white checkered” and since the caution came out before they crossed the line to take the white flag, they should have run a “overtime green white checkered” The fans didnt want to watch the last lap and a half under caution.

  2. Beverly Belche Says:
    February 7th, 2010 at 8:01 am

    re: Ruined

    I agree~

  3. Syd Says:
    February 7th, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Na$car continues to make up the rules when they want to.

  4. Larry Says:
    February 7th, 2010 at 10:47 am

    I agree the race should have ended under green. But, did not anyone else think this race was boring? I hate to get on the band wagon early but there was very few lead changes I thought and Carl Edwards led basically the whole first segment. I still think Nascar has more work to do to create more passing and make the racing more exciting. I can’t imagine a new fan watching last night getting excited about anything except maybe a wreck.

  5. Joe in Pittsburgh Says:
    February 7th, 2010 at 10:57 am

    NASCAR having yet another unknown iffy rule/no rule? Come on!!!! That NEVER happens! The toilet bowl begins to swirl on 2010 already.

  6. Ben Says:
    February 7th, 2010 at 11:44 am

    I totally agree with everything. Not 30 minutes prior to the finish we got the title card that said “Race MUST Finish Under Green” and on top of that, they pretty much forced it down our throats. We were going to see a green flag finish, no questions asked. Uhh, we didn’t. Very disappointing finish for an allstar race that’s suppose to to put on a great show. Saw great racing during the race but NASCAR (or maybe more so Fox) ruined the entire race with that decision.

  7. Ole Putz Says:
    February 7th, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    I guess I lost something somewhere, but I thought with less than 10 laps to scheduled finish, it was a single-file start. Did I miss something?

  8. kevin Says:
    February 7th, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    I was there and couldn’t belive the ending. I had a great time and dropped 800 for the weekend. It sucked that it ended that way. Everyone in the stands was shocked it was over. Bad ending to a great weekend.

  9. The Mad Man Says:
    February 7th, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    The regular season hasn’t even started yet and already NASCAR is ignoring their own rules. That doesn’t bode well for the rest of the season.

  10. Bob Tanner Says:
    February 7th, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    How about Cope’s S&P effort? (”Effort” used advisedly) I thought the Shootout was a prestigious invitational race?
    As far as Junior goes, He qualified well but his race last night looked, and sounded, like a continuation of 2009.

  11. Jay Says:
    February 7th, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    The race went beyond the scheduled distance. Therefore, you got your one shot at a G/W/C.
    The race was never had a rule about finishing under caution. It was never stated on the entry blank. Jenna Fryer found a copy of that - wasn’t on there. And NASCAR said at the drivers meeting that they would get one shot at a G/W/C.
    FOX got it wrong here by saying anything about a green finish.

  12. Larry Says:
    February 7th, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    And, did anyone notice Kyle Busch last night was basically a no show too? They fired a good crew chief last year and I’m waiting to see if he has anywhere near the success with his new one but last night he was just like Jr. a no show.