NASCAR will reduce the number of attempts at a green-flag finish from three to one for this weekend’s races only at Talladega Superspeedway, series officials announced Tuesday.
A double-file restart for the green-white-checkered finish will remain. Series officials had contemplated using a single-file restart.
“Following extensive dialogue with the industry, we have decided to make a procedural change at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend,’’ Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, said in a statement. “In the event the race goes beyond the advertised distance due to a caution, we will use a single attempt at a green-white-checker finish. We take very seriously the responsibility of balancing exciting finishes and safety. We’re confident that this is a positive direction for both.”
NASCAR’s move follows a discussion about changing how this weekend’s Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series races should end. Austin Dillon’s car flew into the catch fence in July at Daytona International Speedway in the most recent restrictor-plate race. Five fans were injured.
Dillon’s crash marked the third time since Feb. 2012 that fans were injured when a vehicle sailed into the fencing at Daytona. Each accident happened either during or after one attempt at a green-white-checkered finish.
Jeff Gordon said earlier this month that “I certainly don’t think we need multiple green-white-checkereds at a restrictor-plate track.’’
NASCAR permits a maximum three attempts to end a race under green-flag conditions before calling the event.
Sprint Cup 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. Gordon was declared the leader. The race finished under yellow, allowing Gordon to win. Fans littered the track with debris.
NASCAR’s decision comes with Talladega as an elimination race in the Chase. Limiting the number of green-white-checkereds could impact who advances to the third round. Last year’s Chase race at Talladega – won by Brad Keselowski – took two attempts at a green-flag finish to end.
Martin Truex Jr., who seeks to advance to the third round, said Tuesday that he’s fine with reducing the number of attempts at a green-white-checkered finish.
“I think it’s a good idea just based on past history of what we’ve seen on green-white-checkereds, as far as really just destroying race cars,’’ Truex said. “I think the chances when you go to Talladega of bringing a car home are slim, but if you have green-white-checkereds there, the chance of not bringing a car home goes up pretty dramatically. I think for the owners and everybody involved, I would be OK to limiting it to one. Hopefully, it doesn’t even come down to one.’’