Time For NASCAR To Look Into Revamping Restarts
With the invention of the "Lucky Dog" rule NASCAR implemented in 2003, drivers not on the lead lap race differently than in the past. Sure, it would be nice to somehow pass the leader and hope for a caution from there, but it is very unncessesary. Nowadays, all you have to do is to become the leader of the unfortunate, and simply hope for a caution, allowing yourself to catch back up. There is no need to allow these drivers into the inside lane. Simply separate the lead lap cars from the cars one lap down, and let there be two different "races:" one for the checkered flag, and another for a second chance at the checkers. Allowing the cars to go double-wide is so beneficial, as even the cars running 6th, for instance, are only 3rd in their respective line. If the high lane seems to be the faster line, as the case arguably was last night, allow the leader the choice of which line to lead the odd-placed cars, while the other line goes to the even-placed ones. More cars are likely to be in on the action. Could you imagine 10 cars in a green-white-checkered with a legitimate chance to win at a speedway like Atlanta or Michigan? If you think the superspeedway finishes are always exciting, imagine that nearly every weekend.
Let's now go back to the topic of the Lucky Dog. As many of you recall, Ryan Newman had a very legitimate chance at finding Victory Lane last night, only to have some damage take him out of it. However, he may have never been able to even be in the mix without the help of Jimmie Johnson, whom it seems purposely slowed up in order to keep Ryan from going two laps down before the end of the first heat. Ryan barely stayed away from doing so, and then received the Lucky Dog at the competiton caution, allowing him back on the lead lap. Had he been passed one more time, he would have been one lap down to start the next heat, and would have had to hope that the end of the field would not be lapped by the leader before the next caution in order to catch back up. If they were to be, however, Ryan would then have to race them to get his Lucky Dog.
Although Ryan would have received the Lucky Dog whether he was 1 or 2 laps down in that case, receving the Lucky Dog when you are mutiple laps down is still a rare occurrence. You had to have had some sort of trouble, with everyone else in the field being particularly strong and error-free. Since the Lucky Dog was invented, only the cars on the lead lap or one lap down are really ever in contention of a win. Those cars multiple laps down cannot race back to the yellow in order to gain a lap back like they used to in the old days. They're basically stuck out of the race when there are cars that are fewer laps down then they are. This is my only personal complaint with the Lucky Dog rule. NASCAR has to look into somehow tweaking the rule in order to help these cars out. Maybe they could give a lap back to the top person who is each 1, 2, 3, laps down, etc. That way when you are 2 laps down, you just need to beat all the cars two laps down, receive a caution, and then beat all the cars only one lap down in order to find your way back on the lead lap. It would make for the teams to endure a tough task, but at the same time, it's a lot easier than the current scenario they are often dealt with.