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Double File Restarts!!!

By admin | June 28, 2009

By Richard Allen

The exclamation marks in the headline of this article will have different meanings for each person, depending on each person’s point of view regarding the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

For many fans, the double-file restarts employed after each yellow flag provided for some exciting racing. The kind of racing NASCAR needs more of. The bump and grind competition between Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson was intense.

Gordon was even so fired up at one point that he told his spotter to deliver a message to Busch’s spotter which was then to be relayed to Busch himself. Gordon made it clear that if Busch continued to bump him he would see to it that the #2 Dodge would not make it out of the next turn. Where has that kind of racing been all season, or for several seasons?

However, unlike many fans, some drivers do not have such a positive view of the new restart procedure. An old saying in racing goes, “Cautions begat more cautions”. That saying held true as the bumping and banging brought on by the double-file restarts continued throughout much of the race.

On a lap 174 restart, that which was bound to happen happened. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. spun his tires which caused his line to get bogged down. Kyle Busch got into the back of Martin Truex, and from there, it was on.

The incident was particularly painful for Richard Childress Racing. Keven Harvick, Jeff Burton and Casey Mears were each involved in the crash. Burton and Harvick, who finished 31st and 34th respectively, came out the worst.

Truex, who looked to be a serious contender for a Top 5 finish and possibly even a win, also suffered as a result of the wreck. Truex finished 37th and left little doubt who he blamed for his troubles. While waiting for his ride to the infield care center he faked as if he were going to throw his helmet at Kyle Busch. Then, in a later interview he pointed the finger of guilt at the driver of the #18 Toyota.

Brian Vickers, David Ragan and Jamie McMurray also sustained damage in the melee.

The double-file restart has been in place for three weeks now. At Pocono, drivers were still feeling out the process and the track’s long straights allowed for everything to sort out before reaching the first turn. On the road course in Sonoma drivers appeared leery of pressing too hard on restarts, considering many of them have a hard enough time on road courses when racing by themselves.

This week, the new restart procedure was in full effect, essentially for the first time. So for some, it was a case of ‘Double File Restarts!!!’ and for others, it was a case of ‘Double File Restarts!!!’, depending on each person’s point of view.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

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