NASCAR could decide as early as Tuesday if it will reduce the number of attempts at a green-white-checkered finish for the Oct. 25 Talladega race, a NASCAR executive said Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
NASCAR has hinted at changing how restrictor-plate races end since Austin Dillon’s crash at Daytona International Speedway in July.
Five fans were injured when Dillon’s car flew into the catch fence just after that race. It marked the third time since Feb. 2012 that fans had been injured at Daytona because of vehicles climbing into the fencing. In all three cases, the accidents happened during or just after a green-white-checkered finish.
“We’re still having conversations with the drivers and the track,’’ Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We have had dialogue surrounding the green-white-checkered procedure and hope to make a decision at the latest by Tuesday and that will be in collaboration with the track and the race teams.’’
NASCAR permits a maximum of three attempts at finishing any race under green-flag conditions. Drivers have said they’d prefer to limit the number of attempts at a green-flag finish at restrictor-plate tracks. Last year’s Chase race at Talladega needed two green-white-checkered attempts before finishing.
“We’re going to have to have green‑white‑checkers,’’ Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “We can’t get rid of them altogether because the fans want to see the race end under green. They want to see at least one attempt to get the race under green, and that’s deserving for them to have that. I would like to take the green‑white‑checkers out of it, but that’s not the best thing for the fans or the product.’’
Green-white-checkered restarts were instituted in July 2004. The move came after a series of races ended under caution, including the spring Talladega event. Jeff Gordon and Earnhardt raced for the lead that day when the caution waved in the final laps. Gordon led when a late caution came out and the race finished under yellow, allowing him to win. Fans responded to the race not resuming under green by littering the track with debris.
Brad Keselowski, who won last year’s Talladega Chase race, said he’s fine with one attempt at a green-flag finish.
“We go there and say we’re going to run 500 miles and you run 500 miles and it ends under yellow it kind of feels a little uncomfortable,’’ he said. “You give another crack at it and see if you can’t finish it off for the fans and if it doesn’t come together, well, we tried. I would feel pretty good about that if I was a fan, and as a team owner I would feel pretty good about that too.”
Denny Hamlin, though, would prefer that NASCAR institute a single-file restart late in the race. He said the notion has been discussed with series officials.
“I think double-file restarts really play into whoever is leading’s advantage,’’ he said. “If you put us all single-file, it forces the people third, fourth, fifth to make a move to get the lead. Right now the leader has such the advantage – he’s able to block both lanes — that I think single-file restarts at the end that would cause more exciting finishes than what we’ve seen there in the past and think they would be safer.
“I think initially the fans won’t like it, but I think they’d like the outcome they see from it. I think it is more likely that we have less green-white-checkers than it is us going to single-file restarts – both are a definite option.”