E.A. Sports Today

NASCAR fixes the finish

All three national series will have “overtime’ for green-white-checkered finish

By Jason Katz
For East Alabama Sports Today

TALLADEGA — After the debacle that was the ending of the CampingWorld.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway last fall, NASCAR made changes to the end of races designed to bring excitement and entertainment back into the final laps of a race.

Last fall, the race, as many have before, came down to the last laps. The lead was being challenged by two drivers, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Joey Logano, who were both battling to clinch a spot in the next round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

As the green flag dropped on a restart the two drivers sped off into turn one, but by the time they got halfway through the corner the back of the field began to wreck. This ended the race and Logano was scored as the winner as the field was frozen at the time of the caution.

Junior missed out on making it further into the playoffs and ended his run for the championship.

On Thursday NASCAR announced races in the Sprint Cup Series, XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series may be concluded with an overtime, consisting of a new procedure for a green-white-checkered flag finish featuring an “overtime line”.

NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell said Thursday this change will fix the issues on race endings, especially at superspeedways like Talladega.

“We’re fans of the sport as well and did not want the repeat of what occurred at Talladega,” O’Donnell said. “And we thought about what went wrong there and, really, the fans did not get to see a true restart.”

The “overtime line” will allow unlimited restarts at the end of the race if it goes over the scheduled amount of laps — 188 in the case of Talladega.

The old rule only allowed for the race to be restarted 3 times before the race was simply just ended and scored based on where the drivers where at the time of the yellow.

“We wanted to ensure that fans have that ability to see a restart,” O’Donnell said.

After taking the green on the overtime restart at any track, if the leader passes the overtime line on the first lap under green before a caution comes out it will be considered a “clean restart” and a valid green-white-checkered attempt. However, if a caution comes out before the leader passes the overtime line on the first lap under green, it will not be considered a valid attempt and a subsequent attempt will be made. If necessary, multiple subsequent attempts will be made until a valid attempt occurs.

The divers at Talladega will most likely race to the OT line that will be located right around the entrance to Turn 3, although that has not been confirmed.

Drivers from all three series talked about their excitement for the new rules. Earnhardt even took to twitter praising the new changes.

“The new GWC rules are the direct result of a collective effort from both NASCAR and the Drivers Council working together,” he said. “I like these changes a lot. Good moves all around.”

In addition to the new overtime, NASCAR announced the new charter system has been approved and will allow 36 teams automatic entrance to every NASCAR Sprint Cup race.

The field will shrink to 40 cars for each race (from 43) and the last four spots will be open for any team to pursue. This will allow a new and improved form of capital being brought into the series and will allow teams to have a little more stability in the way they approach a season. Also, the shrunken field will allow more sponsors fewer cars, making it easier to find sponsorship which is becoming more and more important in the ever-changing sport.

The 36 Charter teams will be assigned a starting position and four Open teams are eligible for starting positions. Qualifying results will determine the Open team starting positions assuming the event is run as scheduled. If qualifying is cancelled due to weather, the combined practice speeds determine the four Open teams.

If practice and qualifying are cancelled due to weather, owner points determine the four Open teams (events 1-3 revert to 2015 owner points).

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