NASCAR Should Look at Changing G-W-C Finish Rule


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How can NASCAR improve their sport? That was the question on everyone’s mind as a select group of Sprint Cup drivers met with NASCAR officials over a week ago to discuss what could make the sport better for drivers, their cars and of course the fans.

The list of drivers that attended the meeting are said to include, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and defending Series champion, Kevin Harvick. Surprisingly, six time champion, Jimmie Johnson, wasn’t invited to the meeting, despite being one of the most marketable and successful drivers in the last decade.

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While the topics of continuing to improve track safety and how to make drivers cars run better was said to be a major part of the conversation, the meeting also discussed ways to give their legion of fans a better show every single weekend. A topic that is sure to have a lot of fans flocking to message boards and comments section to give their opinion on the matter.

This of course begs the question, what would make our sport more enjoyable from a fan standpoint? NASCAR has been known to listen to fans opinions in the past, even instituting new rules like Green-White-Checkered finishes and double file restarts to make races more exciting! With that in mind, it is safe to assume that NASCAR would of course continue to listen to our opinions on the matter.

As a longtime racing fan myself, I believe that Green-White-Checkered finishes should be a frontrunner when considering making changes to keep drivers more interested in the race. The green-white-checkered finish rule introduced in 2014 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and was made to give fans a chance to see the race finish under green.

Kevin Harvick was the first driver to win the championship with the new points system. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The rule was as followed: If a caution occurred during the final laps of a race, NASCAR would give drivers a final chance to finish the race under green in a two lap shootout. If another caution occurred during those two laps, the race would officially finish under caution. The rule was changed in 2010, allowing for three chances at a finish under green. If a caution happened during the first lap of the third attempt, the field would be frozen and the race would be over.

While this rule has supplied fans with a little added excitement over the years, those moments have been a very rare occasion. In fact, out of 83 Green-White-Checkered attempts since 2004, only 27 of them have resulted in the leader at the restart being passed for the win. That’s just over 32% in a span of 11 years!

Even worse is the fact that, there have been only 20 instances of a leader being passed during a green-white checkered finish since the rule was changed to include three attempts in 2010. This is compared to the 42 Green-White- Checkered finishes that were attempted since the 2010 season.

When I think of making NASCAR a more exciting product for those at home and those in the stands, my mind quickly races to how to create more opportunities for last lap passes in the race. This is why I hope that NASCAR eventually decides to allow more laps during green-white checkered attempts.

This would not only increase the chances of an exciting finish for the fans, but also allow drivers who suffer from slow restarts a chance to battle for the lead as well. I find this problem particularly cringe worthy at tracks like Talladega and Daytona, where most don’t even have enough time to get their cars up to full speed.

Adding a few extra laps to the race would help this problem and give more drivers an opportunity to compete for the win, instead of just the top two or three drivers. This is why going to a five or even ten lap shootout would be the best direction for NASCAR to go here.

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While I do believe that NASCAR had the best intentions at heart when creating the green-white checkered rule back in 2004, I feel like this was a rushed and poorly constructed way to give fans what they wanted.

With that being said, NASCAR now has a chance to realize that the rule isn’t creating the exciting finishes that were originally hoping for, and try their best to improve on the initial idea. NASCAR has already done this with the chase format they introduced in 2004,

The new playoff system featured a ten driver cutoff at the end of 26 races to determine who would compete for the championship that year in a ten race battle for the title. This would also be the first time that the points of each driver would be reset. While this was a great first try for NASCAR, the playoff system still suffered some major issues.

NASCAR took another swing at The Chase format in 2006, when they decided to expand the field to 12 drivers and allow drivers to obtain bonus during the regular season that would transfer into The Chase. The driver’s points would be reset as well. This marked the first time that The Chase format was changed in any way.

The playoff system was tweaked again in 2014, allowing for a much more competitive and exciting post season for fans. The new format guaranteed drivers who had won a race that season a spot in the post season, as long as they were in Top 35 in points at the time. The rest of the field would be set by the regular points system.

Once the postseason began, drivers had three chances to try to secure a spot in the next round of The Chase. They could do that by either staying consistent and finishing above the four cutoff drivers at the end of three races, or just win a race in the span of those three races. The format would then repeat up until Homestead Miami for Championship weekend, where the final four drivers would have their points reset and the highest finisher would the champion.

The relative word here, is change. NASCAR realized time and time again that changes needed to be made to The Chase format in order to ensure a better product for fans, and they did it. Now that NASCAR has managed to find a suitable fix for their Chase format, it is now time to improve the racing its self.

There is nothing more exciting in NASCAR race, then having two or even three drivers do battle for the win in the closing laps of the race. NASCAR needs to offer more opportunities for things like that to happen. Creating a rule for a five or even ten lap shootout would be a great start to doing that, and would bring a new level excitement to every Sunday’s race.