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.
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