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

1 Comment

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.

 and on Facebook

Grant Enfinger wins Truck pole at Gateway

Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images
Leave a comment

With a speed of 138.867 mph, Grant Enfinger scored his second career Camping World Truck Series pole and will lead the field to green tonight for the Eaton 200. His first pole came on the restrictor plate Daytona International Speedway in February 2016.

Noah Gragson set a track record in round two of qualification with a speed of 139.035 mph. He slipped to third in the running order during round three.

Enfinger beat Christian Eckes (138.594 mph) by .064 seconds. Eckes is making only his second start in the Truck series. Last week he started ninth and finished eighth at Iowa Speedway.

Gragson (138.402), Justin Haley (138.325) and Ben Rhodes (138.211) rounded out the top five.

Johnny Sauter (137.358) failed to advance to the final round of qualification and will start 13th.

Camden Murphy and BJ McLeod failed to qualify.

Click here for the complete lineup.

Starting lineup for Sunday’s Cup race at Sonoma

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kyle Larson won his second consecutive pole at Sonoma and will lead the field to the green flag for Sunday’s Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.

Martin Truex Jr. will line up alongside Larson on the front row.

Chase Elliott qualified third, the best of three Hendrick Motorsports drivers who advanced to the top 12. Jamie McMurray qualified fourth to place both Chip Ganassi Racing on the first two rows.

AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top five.

Click here for full qualification results.

 

Kyle Larson wins pole for Sonoma Cup race

Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kyle Larson posted a lap of 94.597 mph to win the pole for Sunday’s Toyota/SaveMart 350. It was his second consecutive pole at Sonoma and the sixth of his career.

Larson beat Martin Truex Jr. (94.484 mph) by .090 seconds.

Chase Elliott (94.461), Jamie McMurray (94.227) and AJ Allmendinger (93.925) rounded out the top five. He was fastest in round one of qualification with a speed of 94.477 mph.

Hendrick Motorsports placed three of their drivers in the final round. Jimmie Johnson (93.824) qualified seventh. William Byron (93.756) qualified eighth. Alex Bowman (93.267) qualified 17th.

In his first race back since Matt Kenseth took over the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, Trevor Bayne barely missed advancing to the final round. With a speed of 93.455 mph, he qualified 13th.

Clint Bowyer (93.252) was unable to back up his time from Friday’s practice and will roll off the grid 19th.

Click here for full qualification results.

For Clint Bowyer, Sonoma Raceway is a lot like Martinsville

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Clint Bowyer didn’t grow up road racing; he cut his teeth on dirt tracks in the Midwest. And yet, he had an immediate affinity for Sonoma Raceway. In his second start there, while driving for Richard Childress in 2007, he finished fourth.

In fact, Bowyer enters the Toyota/SaveMart 350 with seven top-five finishes in 12 starts that includes a runner-up finish in last year’s Sonoma race. If not for a couple of misfortunes (crash damage in 2010 and an electrical problem in 2016), he might well have swept the top 10 since scoring that first top five as a sophomore.

Perhaps the reason for that immediate success is that he considers Sonoma to be a twisted version of Martinsville Speedway – a track on which he won this March to snap a 190-race winless streak.

“I think you embrace this track and road racing in general just like you do Martinsville,” Bowyer said on Friday before heading out to put his No. 14 Ford at the top of the first practice speed chart. “Nobody shows up at Martinsville and goes to the top of the board and is fast and has success and navigates traffic to win that race right off the bat. It just doesn’t happen and it doesn’t happen here either.”

His Sonoma success has not translated to road courses in general, however.

Yes, Bowyer swept the top five on NASCAR’s two road courses last year, but the fifth-place finish he scored at Watkins Glen International was only the second of his career on a track that many drivers consider to be less technical than Sonoma. In 12 starts there, he has earned only five top 10s.

“Watkins Glen is so fast. It is just dive-bombs and you are really carrying a lot of speed at a place like Watkins Glen.

“Here, it is like that short track. It is like being at Martinsville. Did you see my car at the end of the race last year? It was destroyed. I drove up through and passed the field twice because of mistakes that we made and got spun out once. It was a wild race to be able to finish second. You can’t do that at Watkins Glen. That car wouldn’t have ran in the top 10 at Watkins Glen.”

Nine different drivers have won at Sonoma in the last nine races. Given the dominance of Harvick (who won last year) and Kyle Busch (the 2015 winner), many think they are the most likely to end that streak. But Bowyer also has an opportunity to end the streak of unique winners. He won the 2012 edition of this race by holding off Tony Stewart – the driver with the second-most road course wins in NASCAR history.

“You have to be able to have fun on this race track,” Bowyer said. “It is a challenge. Each and every corner is different. There is no perfect setup or perfect line. It is literally one of the only tracks you go to where you are out there racing and have a smile on your face. You might even get a chuckle.”