NASCAR Announces “Double-File Restarts – Shootout Style”
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) today announced a change to its race format with the addition of “Double-File Restarts – Shootout Style” throughout each race. Beginning with this weekend at Pocono Raceway, 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 NASCAR 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 NASCAR 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.”
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick said, “I think it’s great that NASCAR is listening to the fans. These new restart procedures are going to make our sport even more exciting 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 non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, which produced an unpredictable finish. The format will be adapted for the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in the near future. Under the previous format, cars on the lead lap would restart in a single-file line while cars that had been lapped would start in a line next to them.
Under the new format, the race leader will have the option to restart on the inside or outside lane. The second-place driver would then restart next to the leader. Regardless of where the leader starts, drivers in odd number positions (3rd, 5th, 7th places, etc.) will restart on the inside lane, while drivers in even number positions (4th, 6th, 8th 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, which is known as the “free pass.” However, a new element beginning this week 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 respective track position, thus picking up a lap to the leader provided the leader also pits. This will also remove lapped cars from behind the pace car, allowing the leaders to take the green without interference.