NASCAR rule change will make for exciting finishes | NevadaAppeal.com

NASCAR rule change will make for exciting finishes

Roger Diez
For the Nevada Appeal

If you watch “Real Time With Bill Maher” on HBO, you know about his “New Rules” segment. Well, NASCAR has taken a page out of Maher’s book and instituted a new rule for Sprint Cup races, starting this weekend at Pocono.

Listening to the fans and competitors, the sanctioning body will take the double-file restart procedure used to provide an exciting finish in this year’s All-Star race and apply it to all Cup races. The procedure also will be implemented in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series in the near future.

Here’s how it will work: the lead-lap cars will restart side-by-side. The leader of the race will get to choose whether he wants to restart on the inside or the outside, with the second-place car alongside him. But from the second row back, all odd-numbered positions will start on the inside and even-numbered positions will start on the outside. Lapped cars that stay out during caution flag pit stops will be waved around the pace car to start at the back of the lead lap cars.

The free pass or “lucky dog” car, the first car a lap down, also will restart at the tail end of the lead lap cars, with the rest of the cars one or more laps down starting behind the lead lap cars. This will allow the leaders to restart the race without interference from lapped cars. Not addressed in NASCAR’s release on the new procedure was the effect of pit lane penalties. Before, a team committing a pit infraction was usually sentenced to start at the back of the longest line. Will they now start at the back of the lead lap cars, or behind everybody? I’m sure it will all become clear during Sunday’s race.

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Sunday will be the first 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup series race televised by TNT. FOX is gone until next year’s Daytona 500. I don’t know about you, but I will certainly not miss their stupid cartoon gopher, Digger. What started out as a cute graphic for their in-track camera angle morphed into a monster, possibly fueled by Darrell Waltrip’s desire to sell Digger T-shirts and other paraphernalia on his Web site. I certainly hope that a kindly exterminator puts Digger out of our misery before next season starts.

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Today is the first day of the Sports Car Club of America’s Race to Reno, a double national event for amateur racers. The races will feature formula cars, purpose-built sports racers, and a variety of sports cars and muscle cars. Four races are on tap for this afternoon with another six races scheduled for Sunday on the Horsepower Course configuration of Reno-Fernley Raceway’s four-mile road course. If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to check out road racing at Reno-Fernley, this is your opportunity. I will be behind the microphone all weekend, so if you come out to the track stop by the announce booth and say hello.

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On the international racing front, Formula 1 is back in action this weekend, in Istanbul for the Turkish Grand Prix. Heading into the race, the Brawn-Mercedes team is miles ahead in the race for both the drivers and constructors championships. The team has 86 constructor points, more than double the score of nearest competitor Red Bull Racing. Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes are fourth and fifth in the standings with only 17 and 13 points respectively. In the driver’s title race, Jensen Button’s 51 points puts him well out in front of teammate Rubens Barrichello, who has 35. Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 champion, and 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen are tied for eighth with only nine points each. To call it an interesting season so far would be a vast understatement.

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Locally, the second annual Octanefest in Fallon kicks off this Thursday and continues through the weekend with a variety of motorsports-related events. Check out http://www.octanefest.com for more information.

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Finally, here’s an update on local NASCAR Late Model racer Dallas Colodny. Dallas finished seventh last Saturday night at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, his sixth top-ten result in seven races. He has also had three top-five finishes and currently sits fifth in season points and leads the Rookie of the Year standings.