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Give NASCAR two big thumbs up: Not just for the new double-file restart rule, but for now finally considering helping teams with this COT!

A NASCAR summer of change? Looks that way. Now what can Dale Earnhardt Jr. (R) do with new crew chief Lance McGrew (L) at the helm? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   POCONO, Pa.
   Double-file restarts?
   Some here are saying that may be one of the best moves NASCAR has made in years.
   Well, that ought to really be an exciting addition to the action at Sonoma in a couple of weeks, Kurt Busch and other drivers say.
   Because drivers rarely lose a lap at that road course, most restarts are standard single-file.
   Now, though, each restart will be double-file….making that twisting uphill run, just past the starting line, quite tricky.
   And this track, with its big wide frontstretch, may be the perfect place for NASCAR to iron out any kinks.
   The race leader gets to pick which lane, inside or outside, he wants for the restart. What does Kasey Kahne, the man on the pole last summer at Infineon Raceway,  think about the restart lane to pick at Sonoma?
    "I've seen it both ways there on the start of the race, because the pole sitter gets to choose. I don't even remember which one I choose; whatever one we took it worked, we led for two laps. 
   "Having the leader choose is a big part of it, because the leader should be in control."
   That's the exciting part of this new deal.
   It's the 'wave-around' part of the new rule that may be a little confusing. That's what happens with one-to-go, when the drivers who are nearly a lap down, and running just ahead of the leaders after pit stops, get 'waved around' by NASCAR to take a restarting position at the back of the pack – in effect, getting free track position.
   Kyle Busch: "I like the wave-around deal. That's going to be cool if you're tail-end… then you get to come back around to get those guys out of the way. And it make it somewhat less confusing for the fans -- Not understanding why the leader isn't restarting up front.
    "Now the wave-around deal is not going to work for guys two laps down. If you're one lap down – it's just like the Nationwide deal at Charlotte a couple weeks ago, where the pit stops were happening (under green), and there was a caution, and everybody was stuck that lap down…but they had already pitted, so they stayed out in front of the leader, Mike Bliss. And then on the restart Mike was like 13th in line; the 12 ahead of him were on the tail-end of the lead lap.
   "Now what they would do is they would allow those 12 cars to circle around and get behind the leader, so then the leader will be the control car and restart the race. 
   "In that instance I probably would have still been able to win the race at Charlotte that night because I could have driven by Mike Bliss fast enough in order to get back to the lead. 
    "It would have benefited me then.
   "The two-lap down cars, if they've already pitted and they stay out (not pitting again under the yellow), I don't think they get waved around.  I think it's only tail-end of the lead-lap cars.
    "That's the way I understand it."
     And what does three-time tour champ Jimmie Johnson think about the new double-file rule? He didn't like the idea a couple weeks ago, when it was first raised.
   "Well, the leader is going to have control, and that's a good thing," Johnson says slowly.
   "Another very positive aspect is that you're going to be racing cars that you need to be racing with – lead-lap cars will be racing lead-lap cars…guys fighting for the 'Lucky Dog' will be racing against themselves.
   "So it's going to help keep things organized. And every position on track is going to mean something. And that's going to be good.
    "I think the biggest concern -- and NASCAR shares this concern, and we all patient with it -- is there might be an advantage to the 'wave around' cars.
   "On a track like Pocono, and maybe even a road course, there could be.
    "But I know they've been working very hard to prevent that.
   "This weekend is as good a time as any to try it….instead of in the chase or at the Daytona 500 -- where we don't know what it's going to do, and it can really impact a big race.
   "So I'm all for it.
   "On short-tracks, the inside lane is probably best (for restarts). Most of the larger tracks, the outside is the best…because you can side-draft a car and slow it down. On a short track, you can't."
   Jeff  Burton likes the double-file rule. He calls it "great."
   But Burton adds "it is going to increase the workload quite a bit.
    "A lot of guys complain about having to race the lapped cars…but there is an advantage of doing that too -- If you aren't quite as good as you need to be the first part of a run, and you have the lapped cars next to you, you can hold up the (lead-lap) cars behind you a little bit until your car gets going.
    "That's not going to be an option any more.
    "As hectic as restarts are now, it is going to increase that two-fold, because the people you are going to be racing are faster…and it is going to make it a lot harder.
    "It is going to make it way more competitive.
    "It is just going to make it a lot harder.
    "You are going to see bigger shifts late in the race -- from a guy running fifth to finishing 12th, or a guy running 12th and finishing fifth.
     "I think restarts are going to be really, really aggressive. It is going to be a lot more intense.
     "It is going to change strategy.
    "Track position is going to be even more important.
    "It is going to change a lot of things.
    "It is certainly not going to make anything easier, I can tell you that."

    Johnson says NASCAR in the past few weeks has asked for more input from teams than it has in a long time: "NASCAR has done more than they ever have, to have teams involved.
   "Now the fans on one side are saying they'd like to see this change…and maybe some competitors on the other side don't like it.
   "But let's try it and see what happens.
    "If it makes a better show, then it works.
    "If not, at Michigan (next weekend) we can go back the other way."


Mr. Mulhern, Thanks so much for continuing to cover Nascar. It's sad your employer decided to drop your coverage. As a life long fan I always looked forward to purchaseing the WSJ just for your coverage and point of veiw. I haven't purchased a WSJ since the day you announced your time had ended. I do miss the notes section. It was always packed full of interesteing goodies.
Keep on keeping on. Keep telling the truth as you see it. Keep NASCAR on their toes and thanks so much for continuing to cover the sport. I always look for your post first.

With Regards,
Randy Potter

'preciate the

'preciate the support....we're still trying to make a difference...just from a different venue.....i think i'll do some notes as part of that newsletter thing i'm trying to put together....thanks for the reminder....something else for this one-man-band to work on....it's all good fun. work, but fun.
thanks again

Wait and see

Give NASCAR one thumb way up for the double-file restart. I'm holing the other until I see what they do with the COT. I'm not convinced they won't make it worse.
My idea: get rid of the splitter and the wing, then make the tires wider. Allow crew chiefs much more flexibility to chase mechanical balance and let the drivers drive 'em deep and hang on. Yee-haw!

Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. And Yes!

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