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NASCAR races should end at the start/finish line

By admin | October 31, 2010



By Richard Allen


The Amp Energy Juice 500 at the Talladega Super Speedway on Sunday was an exciting event filled with all the things NASCAR fans should love. There was strategy, passing for the lead, close quarters racing throughout the field and even a crash or two if that is your thing. Unfortunately, the race lacked one important aspect in that it did not end at the start finish/line.

A crash occurred just after the lead pack had taken the white flag signifying one lap to go. NASCAR rules state that if a yellow flag waves after the white flag is displayed the race is officially scored at the moment of the caution. But not seeing cars race under the checkered flag left a bit of an empty feeling after such a great contest to that point.

I have long stated my belief that if an incident occurs on the last lap the race should be allowed to carry on to the finish line if it is safe to do so. Obviously with the location of the late race crash, that would not have been the best option. But what would be wrong with having green/white/checkered finishes no matter at what point the caution comes out?

I have been to numerous short track races in which that principle was applied. If there was an incident between the lead cars and the finish line then the caution is displayed and the race is restarted after the wreckage is cleaned up. If the incident did not block the leaders path the race simply finishes where it is supposed to finish.

Anyone who claims this would only lead to more carnage is essentially saying that the drivers at the top level of stock car racing are not as capable as local short track drivers of completing a race to the finish line.

When NASCAR first instituted the green/white/checkered rule there were predictions of gloom and doom from many who insisted the move would cost owners vast amounts of money in the way of destroyed race cars. And while there have been races which have required multiple restarts at the end, forecasts of the winner being the last man standing have not held true as often as some who have initially believed.

Instead of having the assembled crowd, the television audience and the competitors themselves sitting around waiting to decide whether Clint Bowyer or Kevin Harvick had won in Talladega, why not simply try it again until the race ends where it is supposed to?

My preference will always be for doing away with things such as Lucky Dogs and video replay finishes and replacing them with races to the line. But when that is not feasible, let the fans see a finish at the start/finish line by use of the green/white/checkered, no matter when the yellow comes out. After all, based on the number of empty seats at NASCAR’s most exciting track, the sanctioning body should be going well out of its way to have everyone leave as happy as possible.

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

Topics: Articles |

6 Responses to “NASCAR races should end at the start/finish line”

  1. JR Says:
    October 31st, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    Rich, if you are a proponent of having “the race end where it’s supposed to”, then you would not be in favor of any GWC finishes. It’s called “500″ for a reason. It’s not called the Talledega Race Until The Fans Think They Got Their Moneys Worth - Presented By Amp Featuring Everyones Favorite Driver DALE EARNHARDT JR.

    And I wonder what Yankeegrandma did after Junior wrecked himself and Burton…. oh yes, she went back to the motorhome and watched some football. Maybe she’s a football groupie, too.

  2. Richard Allen Says:
    November 1st, 2010 at 5:58 am

    As I said in the piece I prefer racing back to the line but on Sunday that would not have been the best option because of where that wreck occured.

    I am very much a traditionalist but not everything is better just because it’s older. I have no problem with racing until the fan’s get their money’s worth.

    Let the NFL have their replays. The start/finish line is there for a reason as well. It’s where the race is supposed to end.

  3. mikeyfan5599 Says:
    November 1st, 2010 at 7:36 am

    Rich, I too would love to see the race end at the SF line, In this case I believe if the cars are not allowed to finish at the start/finish line after the white flag has waved then you go back to the leader at the SF line when the white flag was waved not, where they were on the track. That makes racing for that White flag as important as racing for the checkered.

    As far as racing back to the caution, I’d love to see that too, along with no speed limit on pit road, during green flag stops, but hey things change and you learn to live with them and move on.

  4. JR Says:
    November 1st, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Rich, it did end at the finish line. I saw the flagman wave the checkered flag signifying that the race was over at it’s advertised length, just like it was supposed to end. In my opinion, there cannot be a rule that is adjustable to fit the circumstances. The current rule is that the race is over if a caution comes out on the final lap. That is a cast in concrete rule that is not subject to manipulation or interpretation. Nobody has to make a split second decision that could affect the race outcome. It is up to the fan to obtain his moneys worth by paying attention during the entire event. They pay their money and they take their chances on being entertained. There are no guarantees of exciting finishes. It has been NASCAR’s attempts to MAKE things exciting that have brought the sport to the place it currently finds itself. When they go back to running races without all the gimmicks, they will find out how many true race fans they have. At that point, they will have to adjust their business plan to fit the circumstances and proceed to provide the product that meets the needs of that fan base. Until then, it will continue to be a house of cards subject to collapse at any moment.

  5. Keith Says:
    November 1st, 2010 at 9:38 am

    My opinion is if they are going to use scoring loops let us know where they are and put a white line across the track to let the drivers know where they are and when a yellow comes out let the drivers race to the next line and make another Nascar mystery go away. Brian France caused all these problems because he made decisions without any thought behind them. His first decision of not racing back to the yellow started a domino effect of problems and rules to fix problems.

  6. Richard Allen Says:
    November 1st, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Keith’s comment says it all. If you want to avoid the appearance of manipulation there has to be more proof than just some NASCAR official in the booth saying that’s how it is.

    How is it that the 3/8 mile dirt track five miles from my house can have a race end at the finish line and NASCAR can’t pull it off?

    NASCAR did not invent green flag finishes. Short tracks all over America have been doing it for 50 years. And as far as a race distance goes, every short track I’ve been to this year has run well past its advertised distance. In a 50 lap race cars may actually go around the track 60 or 70 times. Competitors plan for it. Again, NASCAR didn’t invent that concept either.