|Green should mean Go|
Mostly overlooked in the hubbub about the efforts of Michael Waltrip Racing to get Martin Truex, Jr., into the Chase, was the controversial finish to the Richmond 400. Clint Bowyer’s slide may have cost Ryan Newman a victory, but Carl Edwards jumping the restart at the end of the race won it for him.
NASCAR says the leader on a restart must be the first to the start/finish line, unless officials sitting up in the command center judge that something else was in play. There’s the rub. Paul Menard, the leader on the restart at Richmond because he took only two tires, was judged by NASCAR to have spun his tires and that’s why it was okay for Edwards to be ahead at the line. But drivers spin their tires all the time on restarts. Was the difference this time because Menard took only two tires?
NASCAR doesn’t like making judgement calls any more than you and I do.
“Do not put us in that position where we have to make the call," Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition, pleaded with drivers in Richmond. "Because more times than not, it isn’t going to be in your favor – and we don’t want to do that, OK?”
Jimmie Johnson, outspoken all year against the restart rule that cost him at least one race, maybe two, now says he wants NASCAR to throw a red flag and go a video replay to make key decisions, including restarts. Bad idea. Real bad. The last thing we need is longer races, especially when there’s no racing going on and the cars are parked on the track.
But Newman, the center of media focus all week, got it right.
“If the second place guy beats the leader, then so be it,” he said. “The leader has the opportunity to get going however he needs to get going. If he has lesser tires, then he chose to have lesser tires.
“There is no penalty for the fourth place guy to beat the third place guy. There is no penalty for the eighth place guy to beat the seventh place guy. Why should there be for the second place car to beat the leader? It doesn't make any sense to me.
“So, to me, it's a dumb rule. It just creates more confusion. There is no need for it.”
That pretty much says it all. Get rid of the rule.
Green means go.