Flag Day: NASCAR Should Review Its GWC Rules
For a while last Sunday, I thought I had won the race.
Sure Clint Bowyer was doing a burnout while Kevin Harvick watched in his beaten and battered Chevy, and I was on my couch half-awake from my mid-race nap. For a few moments, if I would have suggested to race control at Talladega that I had, in fact, won the race, they might have gone with it.
I kid. A little.
NASCAR did a good job of getting the right winner even if it took a few minutes and may have been influenced by Bowyer’s burnout — quite a task considering the immensity of the track down there in Alabama. They made the right call within the rules that they have in place right now.
But therein lies the real rub.
I think there is a problem with the green-white-checkered (G-W-C) rule that NASCAR has in place right now. Why is there no GWC finish when the caution flies on the white flag lap?
As it stands right now, the winner when there is a crash on the white flag lap, like there was at Talladega last week, is determined by who is in the lead at the “moment of caution.” To figure out who is the winner at this mysterious “moment of caution” NASCAR has to go back and look at the last scoring loop and the videotape to see who was in the lead when the yellow flag comes out.
I mean Moment of Caution is going to be a great band name when I get around to starting a band (unless it’s a Journey cover band, then it’ll be the Lovin’, Touchin’ Squeezins’ but that’s neither here nor there), but it shouldn’t be any way to determine who won a race.
NASCAR changed its GWC rules last year that gives drivers up to three chances to finish the race under the green flag as long as the caution comes out before the white flag. But if the caution comes out after the white flag, game over. If you are going to commit to giving fans a green flag finish (the point of the initial GWC rule, then the revision), why are you arbitrarily saying that you won’t restart a race after the white flag falls?
There might have been an even wilder finish at ’Dega last week had they gotten a chance to go back to green. It would have been awesome to see Harvick in his beat-up ride win at a track where everybody talks about how important aerodynamics are. You never know, Reutimann may have won. Or McMurray. Another car may have gotten on its lid. But one thing is for sure, there wouldn’t have been any question of who was the winner.
NASCAR lost a giant last week when VP of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter passed away after a yearlong battle with cancer. If you are a Southern race fan, you should know who Hunter was. Before taking up office in Daytona, Hunter was a journalist, the public relations guy for Darlington and Talladega and the president of Darlington from 1993-2001.
I am determined that had it not been for Hunter, Darlington would have been left of the schedule for the 2005 season, just like Rockingham. While his job took him to Daytona, he never stopped advocating for the “track too tough to tame.”
“He traveled away from here and did a lot of other things,” NASCAR President Miken Helton said. “But when it was time to come back home, we’re here in Darlington saying goodbye to him.”
Jim Hunter was a hell of a man and he will be greatly missed.
Contact Andy Cagle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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