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Double-file restarts: an idea whose time has come....now just what new tactics will that trigger?

Double-file restarts, with all the lead cars up front, and the lapped cars back in the pack. Sounds like a no-brainer. But there are questions (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   DOVER, Del.
   Double-file restarts?
   Just like at every short track in the country any Saturday night?
  Well, NASCAR is telling teams to give some feedback, and quick, because they're about to pull the trigger on that as a new Sprint Cup tour rule.
   Certainly the fans will like it. Just think All-Star race.
   It should be pretty straightforward, right?
   Uh, well, just hold on a moment here.
   There just might be a problem.
   NASCAR's John Darby says the key sticking point is what to do with all those drivers who are on the tail-end of the lead lap – and just ahead of the real leader of the race, after a caution comes out when half the field has pitted under green and half of the front runners are still out on the track.
    Right now, the leader, in a case like that, is stuck in the middle of the pack – it happened right here in Sunday's Dover Autism Speaks 400 –with all those tail-enders ahead of him.
   Yes, it does make for something of a quandary for the fans in the stands, always has. Why is the leader of the race in the middle of the field?
  And it can make things perilous for the leader and the men he's racing with for position.
  But would it be right to let those tail-enders, who are 90 percent of a lap down though still officially on the lead lap, go around the track and close up on the rear of the leader and the rest of the front-runners?
   That's the dilemma.
   And it appears that NASCAR is ready to split the different with the leader of the race: by giving those guys who are almost but not quite a lap down that 90 percent of a lap back and letting them close up on the leader's bumper. So the leader would lose that advantage over them, but the leader would likewise not have to restart in the middle of the pack.
   Is that a good move or a bad move?
   Teams and drivers have a couple of days to give NASCAR their two cents worth.
   And fans may have just a couple of days to weigh in on the subject too.
   Because it looks like NASCAR execs want to have that new rule in place for next weekend's Pocono 500.
   Of course at Pocono, with its mile-long front stretch, it shouldn't offer many problems. And it would be a good opportunity to run the rule through the grinder of an actual race and see what tweaks might be needed.
   From a promoter's standpoint it makes sense to let the tail-enders close up. Better show.
   But from a purist's standpoint, it looks like another Lucky Dog give-away.
   Here's betting drivers and crews, knowing how important clean air is, with these new cars, will opt to let NASCAR put the leaders out front, even though also giving the tail-enders some better track position that they really didn't earn.



More times than not, if I was

More times than not, if I was the leader, I would want those cars behind me instead of in front of me. Most of them are going to wind up getting that lap back anyways unless there is a long green-flag period that follows. Worse, though, they might wreck right in front of the leader and take him out. I think bringing them around is what most of the leaders would want, so long as they have to pit as a lap-down car (i.e. they don't get brought around until after the normal lead-lap cars have made their pit stops.

good point on making them pit

good point on making them pit as lap-down cars.

Many of the lappers get to

Many of the lappers get to the "tail end" (between pace car and leader) by not pitting under yellow. The situation doesn't unfold until after the lead-lap cars have pitted and then the lappers either pit or stay out. The lappers who pit, stay a lap down. Those who stay out end up between the leader and the pace car (tail end). In this case, the pace car should move over and let them by, but they should not be allowed to pit. Pitting at this point would give them a competative advantage over those who pitted earlier.

Another point to consider is how the new rule will affect "quicky cautions". Can all the scoring be resolved in one or two laps?

It's a no-brainer to have the

It's a no-brainer to have the leaders two abreast on restarts.

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