Starting with this week’s NASCAR Cup Series and Truck Series events at Michigan International Speedway, NASCAR will officially be using a “choose rule” for restarts across all three national series. Now, what exactly does that mean for NASCAR races going forward? Let’s take a look.
According to NASCAR.com, the new restart procedure “offers a strategy play that gives drivers the option to start on either the inside or outside lane in a double-file restart. Drivers can opt for the preferred groove or make a bid for track position in the non-preferred lane.”
The rule was first used at the national series level back on July 15 at the NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. For that Cup Series race, officials painted an orange “V” and box as a selected commitment point not far from the start-finish line on Bristol’s frontstretch. If a driver didn’t commit to a lane before reaching the box, that driver was penalized by starting at the end of the longest line.
According to Scott Miller, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition, this designation will be very similar going forward.
“It will essentially look the same,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition. “There will be a few subtle differences to handle wave-arounds and free passes and a full field of cars, which we didn’t have at the All-Star event. But it will look very much the same. It will be exactly the same up front, but just some subtleties to handle wave-around, free pass and things like that.”
Miller also went into why the “choose rule” will not be implemented at road courses/rovals and Daytona and Talladega.
“There’s a couple of differences for each one of them,” Miller said. “For superspeedways, as we have all seen in the past, teamwork is kind of a key thing, whether that be between cars of the same manufacturer or cars of the same team, and if we have the choose rule there, we would just sort of be enabling them to get together much easier on a restart, and we feel like it’s probably much better to have that happen organically with a standard starting procedure.
“Road courses are a little bit different situation. We will get the field to choose at the call from the tower of ‘one to go,’ and we do that sometimes at remote locations on a road course so we can get back to green quicker, and we wouldn’t have the ability to sort of manage the choose with the remote ‘one to go’ location, so we won’t be able to manage that so we opted out on the road courses.”
Many NASCAR drivers have come out in support of the “choose rule,” including Joey Logano, Tyler Reddick, and Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott.
“I think the choose rule’s been needed for a long time,” Elliott said after winning the All-Star Race. “I think it should be that way every week. I don’t think there’s really a reason to not have it. There’s no reason to me why you shouldn’t have the choice or you should be automatically told where you’re going to line up when one lane has an obvious advantage, just based on where you come off pit road. Life ain’t fair I guess, but just makes way more sense to put it in our hands and it either works out for you or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t work out, then it’s your own fault and not luck of the draw and where you come off pit road.”