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Double file restarts: here's the deal

Ever since this year's All-Star Race used double-file restarts and  turned out to be one of the most exciting All-Star events in years,  rumors  have been flying hot and heavy that NASCAR would change the restart procedure for all the races.
Last Friday it came: NASCAR announced a change in its race format with the addition of “Double File Restarts- Shootout Style” throughout each race.  

Beginning immediately, the first and second place drivers will line up side by side as the green flag flies for each restart.

“We‘ve heard the fans loud and clear.  Double file restarts — shootout style — are coming to the Sprint Cup Series,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France.  “This addition to the race format is good for competition and good for the fans.”

“I’m excited about it,” said two-time Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart. “The good thing is that when they drop the green, you’re going to be racing with the guys you’re racing for position instead of trying to clear lapped cars. Since NASCAR has adapted the ‘free pass,’ I think that’s something that now justifies being able to put those lapped cars to the back and let them race with each other, and let the guys who are racing on the lead lap  do the same. I’m behind NASCAR 100% on this.”

Driver Kevin Harvik said, “I think it’s great.  These new restart procedures are going to make our sport even more exiting than it already is. This will not only benefit the lead lap cars, but also the cars that go a lap down, so you get the best of both worlds.”
NASCAR recently used the “double file” format for its annual All-Star Race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, which produced an unpredictable finish. The format will be adapted for the Nationwide series and the Camping World Truck series in the near future.  

Under the previous format, cars on the lead lap would restart in a single-file line on the outside, while cars that had been lapped would start in a single line on the inside.

Under the new format, the race leader will have the option of restarting on the inside or the outside lane.  The second place driver would then restart next to the leader.  Regardless of where the leader starts, drivers in odd numbered positions ( third, fifth, seventh places, etc.) will restart on the inside lane. Drivers in even numbered positions (fouth, sixth, eigth places etc.) will restart on the outside.  All restarts will use the same format, regardless of the number of laps remaining in the race.

The first place driver will continue to control the timing of restarts in a designated zone on the track. Likewise, cars are to stay in line until they reach the start/finish line. The first eligible car a lap or more down will continue to earn one lap back following a caution, same old “Lucky Dog” rule. However a new element will be that the “Free Pass” will remain in effect the entire race.

Lapped cars choosing to remain on the track will be waved around the caution car and will restart the race in their respective track position.  This will remove lapped cars from behind the pace car, allowing the leaders to take the green flag without interference.  
Good move, now if the powers that be would cut out playing games with the caution flags and let ’em race ...

Up next,  the Lifelock 400 Sunday at Michigan International Speedway as MIS opens its 40th anniversary season.  The track hosted its first Cup race in 1969. Cale Yarborough won the first-ever Michigan race in a Wood Brothers Mercury, while Donnie Allison won the pole driving a Banjo Matthews Ford. 

Sunday's Lifelock 400 is the 80th NASCAR Cup series race at the two mile oval.  Ford has been the dominant manufacturer. The blue oval bunch leads all brands with 31 victories.  Chevrolet is second with 17 wins, including the most recent with Dale Earnhardt, Jr.  taking the win in a rain-shortened event last May. Incidentally,  the win was Junior’s last win and only trip to victory lane in a points race since leaving DEI to drive for Hendrick Motorsports. 

In addition to Earnhardt, Hendrick Motorsports has been to victory lane at Michigan three other times.  Jeff Gordon won in 1968 and 2001. Ricky Rudd won for the Hendick team in 1993.

You may reach Pete Barber at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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