NASCAR looking to move overtime line in 2018 to start/finish line

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NASCAR is looking to move the overtime line to the start/finish line next year, a senior executive told NBC Sports.

Steve O’Donnell, executive vice president and chief racing development officer, made the comment during the NASCAR on NBC podcast with Nate Ryan.

“We’re going to take a hard look for 2018 of making (the overtime line at) the start/finish line,’’ O’Donnell told Ryan.

A point that has been made from tracks, O’Donnell said, is that many don’t have seats where the overtime line is — typically located on the backstretch or near the entrance of Turn 3.

“All those things, if you take the time and you put it up on a board and say what are the positives to this, there are not a ton of them,’’ O’Donnell said on the NASCAR on NBC podcast. “So I think if we get it back to the start/finish line and make sure the fans at least get that one full lap, that’s a direction we want to go.’’

The overtime line was added before the 2016 season. It stemmed from a controversial finish at Talladega in Oct. 2015. As the field approached to take the green flag during overtime, there was an incident. NASCAR ruled that the attempt didn’t count because the green flag hadn’t waved. On the ensuring attempt, Kevin Harvick made contact with Trevor Bayne’s car after the green waved, causing a crash that ended the race.

Drivers came up with the overtime line with NASCAR. If the leader gets to the line before a caution comes out on the first lap of an overtime restart, no further attempts at a green-flag finish is made. If the leader does not make it to the line before a caution, another attempt at a green-flag finish is made.

Last month, Dale Earnhardt Jr. voiced his displeasure with the rule.

“I kind of helped come up with that idea, so this is going to be kind of strange, but I think they should get rid of the overtime line at all the racetracks except for Daytona and Talladega,” Earnhardt said on Periscope after the June 4 Dover race.

“I think we should race it out everywhere. And no overtime line, just keep on doing green-white-checkereds until you get it right everywhere. And then at Daytona and Talladega, you probably can do something different.”

Earnhardt said the solution at Daytona and Talladega might be to “keep the overtime line or don’t have a green-white-checkered finish.

“Oh well. It’s a damn shame. It’s the way they did it for 50 years, so I think that people would be OK with it. It’s just green-white-checkered at those places are kind of crazy.”

Saturday’s Xfinity race ended under caution after NASCAR threw a caution for a crash on the first lap of overtime after winner William Byron crossed the overtime line.

Elliott Sadler, who finished second and was denied another attempt to win the race, didn’t fault NASCAR for the decision.

“I was good,’’ Sadler told the media after the race. “I’m not going to nickel and dime that to death. I’m in the race car. It’s probably easy for you to sit in here and judge what kind of call NASCAR makes, but we’ve got a lot of people out there and a lot of equipment and we’re running 190 mph side by side. If there is a reason to throw a caution because somebody has wrecked, I’m all for it because it could be the next time. I say safety first because my butt is in the seat.

“It’s a tough question. The rule is the rule, and the rule is put in a place for a couple of different reasons. But if you’re asking me a driver that has been doing this for 20 years, I’m going to err on the side of safety every time. It might have cost me a chance today, might not, I don’t know if could have got up there or not. You just don’t know when cars start wrecking and hitting and if somebody got hurt or if they didn’t or anything like that.’’

O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Monday: “We waited a second to see if the cars that were involved in the incident would roll off like you saw Saturday night, and unfortunately there were some impacts there where we had to throw the caution flag and ultimately end the race.’’

The full episode of the NASCAR on NBC podcast with O’Donnell is expected to debut shortly after midnight Wednesday. During the podcast, O’Donnell discussed a variety of topics, including stage racing, the Gen-7 car that could debut in two to four years, technology NASCAR is looking to use to help monitor lug nut checks, debris cautions and more.

You can listen and subscribe to the podcast on AudioBoom here. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts by clicking here. The free subscription will provide automatic downloads of new episodes to your smartphone.

It also is available on Stitcher by clicking here and also can be found on Spotify and a host of other smartphone apps.

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