ThatsRacin

NASCAR’s longer restart zone at Dover popular with drivers

Jeff Gordon speaks to the media after rain canceled practice and qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on Friday.
Jeff Gordon speaks to the media after rain canceled practice and qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on Friday. Getty Images

NASCAR’s decision to lengthen restart zones appears to be popular among drivers.

Especially those who happen to be leading races.

“This business isn’t easy, you know?” Kyle Busch said Friday at Dover International Speedway, one day after NASCAR announced it will double the restart zone from 70 to 140 feet for Sunday’s AAA 400. “I don’t think it should ever be exactly equal for everybody. I think restarts should always have more advantage toward the leader. You’re the leader for a reason and you should have a little bit of an advantage over the rest of the guys.”

Restarts have become an issue in recent races, with drivers asking NASCAR to police the rules more stringently. With the zone length changing to longer than the old standard of double the pit-road speed, the restart rules aren’t changing. The first place car is the “control car,” with the second-place car not being allowed to pass the leader while in the restart zone.

In September, NASCAR placed dedicated cameras and race officials at the zone to monitor restarts. Brad Keselowski was penalized during last week’s race at New Hampshire for jumping the restart.

“I would go even more if it was up to me,” said Joey Logano of the length of the zone. “The box was so small before that, instead of a restart box, you might as well have just called it a restart line, because everybody knows what kind of a general area where you’re going to go.

“When everyone knows that, and there’s such a small area where you have to go, people start timing that and laying back to get runs.”

The now-longer zone is a drastic departure from when NASCAR simply used a restart line.

“It used to be a mark on the wall and it was ‘go’ in the vicinity of this mark,” said Jeff Gordon. “But, really, the way the rules were written you could you could kind of go all the way to the start/finish line. People pushed the limits on that and forced NASCAR to make this box that we (have) had. The box was always too small.”

Gordon said engineers at Hendrick Motorsports calculated that the average time in the box, plus the time to react to a restart, was about one second.

“When you have one second to react in that area, everyone can just anticipate what is going on – (except) the people in the front row.”

So that’s when it comes back to giving an edge back to the leader.

“Now, as we are making calls, the leader of the race has been put at a disadvantage with such a small restart area,” said Jimmie Johnson. “It’s very easy for the second-place car to time the roll and to get up and accelerate with the leader because it’s such a small restart area.

“The goal here is to give control back to the guy who has earned it – the leader. That’s what happens and I am in favor of it. It’s a good call and I’m excited to see how it plays out.”

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