DOVER, Del. – Jeff Gordon said Friday that NASCAR should reduce the number of green-white-checkered finishes at restrictor-plate tracks.
Gordon’s comments come three weeks before NASCAR races at Talladega Superspeedway. That will be the first race at a restrictor-plate track since Austin Dillon’s car crashed into the catch fence at Daytona International Speedway. Five fans were injured.
Dillon’s crash marked the third time since Feb. 2012 that fans were injured at Daytona by a vehicle crashing into the fence. All three incidents came on a green-white-checkered finish.
“I certainly don’t think we need multiple green-white-checkereds at a restrictor-plate track,’’ Gordon said at Dover International Speedway.
NASCAR permits a maximum three attempts to end a race under green-flag conditions before calling the event. NASCAR has stated it’s considering making a race procedure change before Talladega.
Sprint Cup and Xfinity races have had the two-lap restarts at the end of races since July 2004. The move came after a series of races ended under caution, including the spring Talladega event. Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. raced for the lead in the final laps when the caution waved that race. Gordon was declared the leader. The race finished under yellow, allowing Gordon to win. Fans responded to the race not resuming under green by littering the track with debris.
Gordon said there’s been some talk recently about the end of restrictor-plate races, but admits there’s only so much that can be done.
“That style of racing and the aggressiveness that you have to have in the closing laps, especially when there’s a late caution, you don’t have any choices other than to hold it wide open and hold on tight,’’ Gordon said. “That’s what makes it so exciting if you’re watching. It’s what makes it intense from inside the car.
“I’m not so sure there’s much procedural stuff that can change or fix that. We’ve had meetings. We had that meeting last weekend at New Hampshire. We’ve had (driver) council meetings. As a group it seems like we’re all collaborating more than we ever have and that’s one of the topics.’’
Ryan Newman, though, has another suggestion.
“The obvious thing is the goal of keeping the cars on the race track,’’ said Newman, who has tumbled at Daytona and Talladega during his Cup career. “In doing so, you have to slow the cars down so they don’t reach their lift-off speed in any direction that they go, forward, backward, sideways, or whatever.
“I think the second part of that is to give us the flexibility of keeping the cars lower. We’re running old-style rules of ride height clearance and things like that. As soon as the cars turn around, they want to come up. And if you kept a car with the skirt sealed off and things like that, the back end wouldn’t want to become airborne quite as easy.
“I think there are a couple of things that could be done from a safety standpoint for the drivers, as well as the fans. And from what we’ve seen, even at that point the crew members and people on pit road, too. The cars, once they get airborne, are obviously out of control. And keeping that perspective of it, to me, is the most important part, way above and beyond any kind of procedural change.”