NASCAR changes restart format
NASCAR will implement a new format of double-file restarts from next weekend's Sprint Cup race at Pocono in an effort to enhance the spectacle.
Starting with Sunday's race at Pocono, cars on the lead lap will restart from every caution in two lines, without any backmarkers interfering in the order at the front of the field. The format has been used both in the Budweiser Shootout and the All-Star race, providing a better opportunity to overtake for those behind the leader.
In the past, drivers on the lead lap would line up one behind the other for every restart until 20 laps to go, while lapped cars would form a line on the inside.
In some cases, when the leaders pitted under caution and cars a lap down stayed out, those backmarkers would get back on the lead lap and take the green flag in front of the leader in a confusing situation for the fans.
Under the new format this scenario will be avoided, as cars a lap down choosing to stay on the track will be waived through by the pace car on every caution, provided that the leaders also pit. They will then line up in track position at the back of the field, getting a lap back in the process.
"I'm excited about it," said Sprint Cup points leader Tony Stewart about the new format. "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."
On every restart the race leader will be able to choose to take the green flag from the inside or the outside but behind the front row, drivers in odd number positions will restart from the inside, while those on even number spots will do so from the outside line.
The 'free-pass' rule, which allows the first lapped car to get back on the lead lap on every caution, will now apply for the entire race, as before it wasn't used for the final ten laps.