Does NASCAR need to tweak the green-white-checkered finish?
As it stands now, NASCAR makes one attempt at the green-white-checkered (henceforth referred to as GWC) whenever a caution comes out that would under normal circumstances cause the race to end under caution. When it does so, NASCAR makes one attempt at the GWC -- if the caution comes out after the GWC, the race is over.
But after Kyle Busch's confusing win in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona Saturday night, the question begs asking: do we need to change the GWC format? Replays showed Busch just in front of Carl Edwards in Turn 1 as the Big One unfolded behind them on the last lap.
Confusion reigned for several moments, as Busch, Edwards and all the fans wondered exactly who won the race. Once Busch was declared the winner -- his sixth checkered flag this season -- fans booed and showered his car with water bottles.
Were the fans booing Busch or the GWC format?
Larry McReynolds made the following point on TNT's broadcast Saturday night: under most caution flags, the field is set by the running order at the last scoring loop. But in the event of a caution during a GWC, the winner is determined by who was in the lead at the moment of caution -- which, replay showed, was Busch.
Had NASCAR used the same loop scoring it uses in the middle of the race, there's a chance Edwards would've been declared the winner. Shouldn't NASCAR use the caution rule consistsntely, regardless of whether the caution flies on lap 100 or the last lap?
And should there be more than one attempt at the GWC? Keeping in mind that NASCAR must make driver safety a priority, examine the Craftsman Truck Series (where the GWC orginiated). Truck races literally run until the race finishes under the green flag; if that means more than one GWC finish, then so be it.
Should the Sprint Cup Series adopt the same philosophy?
On some level, I happen to think so. If the point of the GWC is to keep the race from ending under caution, then why let the race end under caution in the event of a crash during the GWC?
But again, there's the safety issue. And the fact that were NASCAR to allow unlimited GWC attempts, can't you see a race in which we try this thing seven or eight times? Okay, perhaps that's a little excessive, but we saw how hectic things got Saturday night as the laps wound down.
In the end, I can't help but wonder: would everyone be as upset over the GWC finish if someone other than Busch won?
-Props to Tony Stewart. While he's driven under the weather before -- I remember him winning at Watkins Glen a few years back while battling stomach issues -- it was obvious Saturday night he was struggling. Getting out of the ride in favor of J.J. Yeley, Stewart spent the rest of the night watching and receiving IV fluids. Stewart is one of the toughest drivers in the Sprint Cup garage, so for him to get out of the car -- that tells me whatever was bothering him was beyond bad.
-Again, the best car didn't win. Dale Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 51 laps before being shuffled back in the pack, nearly wrecking a few times and coming home eighth. This marks the third time this season Junior has led the most laps and not won (Charlotte and Martinsville were the other two). Haters will point to a lack of talent; I point to racing luck. Things just go this way at times -- without bad luck, Junor could have four or five wins this season. Still, Junior has already won once this year and will be a factor the rest of the season -- he moved up to second in points after Jeff Burton's bad night on Saturday.
-Look for Martin Truex Jr. to take a big points hit later this week. Truex's car was confiscated Thursday after failing pre-qualifying inspection, and there are rumblings a huge penalty is on the way. Already 14th in points and struggling, Truex could find his chances at making the Chase all but dashed. If Truex didn't already want out of DEI, this might be the thing that changes his mind.
-Chicagoland this coming weekend -- under the lights for the first time. Should be interesting to see how that plays out before the off-week. After the off-week, the series heads to Indianapolis, where the ESPN-ABC coverage starts. Make of that what you will.