Double-file restarts kick off at Pocono
LONG POND, Pa. (June 6, 2009) – The new double-file restart format kicks off this weekend at Pocono Raceway, and Hendrick Motorsports’ teams believe it may take time to adjust.
“I think it’s going to take some getting used to,” said Lance McGrew, crew chief of the No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet of driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. “It’s going to change the sport for lots of reasons. I think ultimately we are all going to have to sit back and understand the rule a little better, but I think it’s going to change the way you call a race.”
Previously, cars on the lead lap restarted in a single-file line with lapped cars lined up next to them. The format also called for single-file restarts during the last 20 laps of Cup competition.
But under this new procedure, which will put the first- and second-place drivers on the front row, every restart will be in double-file formation.
The race leader will have the option to line up on the inside or outside lane for the restart, and the second-place driver will take the remaining spot on the front row. All odd number positions will restart on the inside lane. All even number positions will restart on the outside.
“In the long run, it’s going to be better for the competitors,” said Chad Knaus, crew chief of Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. “Say you come into pit road fourth, and you have a poor pit stop or you make an adjustment, and you lose eight spots and that puts you 12th. On a normal lead lap, that means you would start 24th. That’s a long way back there.
“In this new format, if you go out 12th, you will be starting sixth row, outside. So that’s a much better opportunity for you to get your car back to the front of the field.”
The change, made primarily with the fans in mind, will allow drivers to battle for a win without having to worry about lapped traffic. Mark Martin, driver of the No. 5 Kellogg’s/CARQUEST Chevrolet, believes it will be a hit with the fans.
“From a fan’s standpoint, I think it’s timely because we’re competing and that’s an entertainment factor,” Martin said. “From a competitor’s standpoint, I would have rather mulled it over for a while. But from a fan’s standpoint, it’s a win-win.
“It’s what the All-Star race is about. It just makes Cup racing more like that. It’s going to be better for the fans. So, I look at it from both sides, and I understand why they brought it this weekend.”