NASCAR officials have announced an update to the ‘overtime’ regulations that will affect the Cup, XFINITY and Truck series. The ‘overtime line’, which was introduced as a revamp of the previous ‘green-white-checkered’ rule for the end of a race, will be moved to the start/finish line as opposed to its previous locations earlier this year.
In the event that a caution is called in the dying laps of a race, there would be a two lap shootout to complete the race. After the restart, the field would have to reach a painted line, previously on the backstretch of your typical Speedway, for the race to be ended under the next flag; be it a yellow flag for an incident or the checkered flag if the field then made it back to the finish. If the field failed to reach this line, a caution would be called and another restart would take place. This process would continue until the field either crossed the overtime line or reached the checkered flag on the second and final lap.
However, as of today, NASCAR officials have announced that the overtime line will be moved to the start/finish line, meaning that the field would have to start the final lap of a race for the overtime attempt to be official.
“NASCAR has been looking at the overtime procedure for quite some time,” NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell said in a statement on NASCAR.com, “After many discussions with key figures throughout the industry, we recognize that having the start/finish line serve as the standard Overtime Line position will benefit the race — and, most importantly, our fans. We are implementing this immediately, starting with this weekend’s races at Watkins Glen International.”
This change of regulation comes just two weeks after NASCAR officials had to defend a late overtime decision at Indianapolis when a wreck occurred just short of the overtime line on the back-straight-away between turns two and three. Race leader, Kasey Kahne had not yet crossed the line when the multi-car wreck took place, but officials waited to see if the damaged cars were able to clear themselves off of the track. It was soon evident that oil was on the track and that a caution would be needed, but by that time the leaders had crossed the overtime line; thus ending the race.
Had the overtime line been at the start/finish straight, as the new regulation says, the race at Indianapolis would’ve had yet another race restart which potentially could’ve had vital implications on the race winner. It is unlikely that this specific event at Indianapolis had any baring on today’s announcement, but the news does make it much clearer for fans, teams and drivers when it comes to deciding whether a race is over or not.
Initial reactions from teams and drivers have been positive, with the likes of Dale Earnhardt Jr tweeting, “Good move. Other idea didn’t pan out. I’ll take any amount of responsibility for it.” He was referring to the fact that the NASCAR drivers council helped to come up with the original overtime line regulation, but at some tracks such as Daytona and Talladega, “-it failed as a solution.”
The first use of the new overtime regulations will be at this weekend’s XFINITY and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series races.