Is it time for NASCAR to 
re-evaluate double-file restarts?

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images
Kevin Harvick leads the field on a restart at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

By Brandon Caldwell
September 5, 2014


Disclaimer: All opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

During the 2009 season, NASCAR had realized that the sport was on a decline. The sport’s biggest star, Dale Earnhardt Jr., was having a historically bad season and ratings were not as strong as in previous years.

So in order to restore some spunk in the sport, and create a buzz, NASCAR’s sanctioning body decided to change the way NASCAR would do restarts. Before the June Pocono race, NASCAR made it official that they were lining the field up in double-file restarts.

Previous to Pocono in 2009, the lead lap cars would line up on the outside, and the cars off the lead lap, would line up on the inside of the leaders. With this new rule, all the cars would line up double-file, much like the start of the race, with the leader choosing which line he/she wanted to start in.

It did create buzz as now cars were able to pass right from the get go, and cautions became much more prevalent in the race. It definitely made things more exciting, but did it hurt the integrity of the racing?

Now here we are, five seasons into the double-file restarts in NASCAR, and most fans are used to it. A lot of them have forgotten what the restarts were like before this rule was implemented. But as we saw Sunday night in Atlanta, does this hurt the best car winning the race?

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images
Kevin Harvick leads the field on a restart at Bristol Motor Speedway.

It also seems like since the implementation of the double-file restarts, the “aero push” has started to show. Could this be because of the restarts? Does the second best car starting in a different lane than the best car, actually hurt the sport, and create less passing?

Well as we saw on Sunday night, it could. The upper lane was doomed all night. Paul Menard took two tires, and crashed because he was in the high lane on the restart. Matt Kenseth took two tires, and it seemed to help him, because he was in the low lane. Imagine if both Kenseth and Menard had taken two in the old format, in the lesser of the two preferred lanes, Kenseth may not have been able to pull away so quickly.

This isn’t the only time we’ve seen this, this season. Sometimes we’ll actually see drivers either stop or slow on pit lane to make sure that they’re in the lower lane. It’s mayhem.

The ending of a race, and your chance at winning shouldn’t be determined by which lane a driver starts in. I’m not saying to do away with the double file restarts; I’m just saying to look into it.

Regardless, the double-file restart isn’t going anywhere anyway. The vast majority of the fan base loves it, and television plays it up, and it is exciting. But maybe when the cars for 2015 test, let’s see if it needs to be tweaked or done away with. Cars in Daytona when they had a long line on the top would spread out easier because it was a longer line to get into the front. So they created two lanes. Maybe that would put an end to single-file racing in the middle of the runs. Just a thought.

Sometimes you’ve got to go backwards to go forwards, and maybe going back to the old restarts would help NASCAR’s problem with the aero push and single file running at the plate tracks. Maybe it wouldn’t but really, would it hurt to try it again? If it doesn’t work, we could always go back. 

Should NASCAR change the double-file restart?
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