NASCAR announces changes to restart procedure

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In this morning’s drivers’ meeting at Chicagoland Speedway, NASCAR announced a potentially significant change to its restart procedure that takes effect today in the Chase-opening GEICO 400.

The restart zones will still be in effect, and the race leader will have the responsibility to accelerate within the zone to bring out the green flag. When the green emerges, the leader must be ahead of the second-place car.

However, once the leader accelerates at the green, the second-place car can also accelerate and beat the leader to the start/finish line. Additionally, drivers must stay in their specific lanes until they reach said line.

Restarts have been a recurring issue this season, and they were such again last weekend at Richmond International Raceway. While it was buried by the controversy surrounding Clint Bowyer and Michael Waltrip Racing, the final restart of last Saturday’s Sprint Cup race saw second-place Carl Edwards beat race leader Paul Menard to the start/finish line and then go on to win.

Edwards maintained that Menard had spun his tires, and NASCAR opted not to penalize Edwards, who is one of the 13 Chase contenders set to begin their drive toward a Sprint Cup championship this afternoon at Chicagoland.

One day before, the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at RIR also ended with a restart controversy. Television replays appeared to show Brad Keselowski moving ahead of Brian Scott before the two crossed into the restart zone with six laps remaining in the event. But NASCAR did not penalize Keselowski, who then pulled away for the victory.