The Sprint Cup Series event at New Hampshire ended under caution on Sunday when Alex Bowman hit the wall shortly after leader Kyle Busch crossed the line and took the white flag.
Per the NASCAR rule book, if a caution falls during the final lap, after the leader takes the white flag, the field will be frozen where they run and the race will end under yellow. On Sunday, that rule benefitted Kyle Busch who had a healthy lead over Brad Keselowski and won when the final caution dropped with one to go.
A restart would have been a crapshoot that could have had major implications on Busch and his efforts to make the Chase for the Championship after missing the first 11 races of the season. If the Sprint Cup Series used the ARCA Racing Series rulebook, that crapshoot would have become a reality as that tour mandates that races end under the green flag.
A late caution set up a green-white-checkered between Kyle Weatherman and defending champion Mason Mitchell. Weatherman pulled away on the restart but a caution fell after he took the white flag, setting up the rule that is unique only to the ARCA Racing Series.
In ARCA, if the leader has not taken the white, there will be three attempts at a green-white-checkered. If those three attempts are used, or the leader took the white flag, the race will still restart but with the leader taking the green and white flag, resulting in a one lap shootout.
Mitchell capitalized on the rule, passing Weatherman going into Turn 1 and scored his second career victory.
On one hand, the rule effectively cost Weatherman the win. But instead of displaying frustration or bitterness, Weatherman conceded that the rule was good for the fans, and thus, good for the sport.
“You know I honestly think it needs it,” Weatherman, a Penske affiliated driver said. “I think it’s cool to finish under green. I mean like I said right now I don’t like the rule (laughs) but you know hopefully one day it’ll play out in our favor and maybe we can steal one like that like Mason did.
“I do think it’s good to finish under green and to have a good race there for the end.”
ARCA veteran Tommy Hessert has also lost a victory on the rule, earlier this season at Talladega, but also displayed support for the rule, wanting the sport to do whatever it takes to please the fans in the stands and at home.
“I mean I think it’s cool and it’s definitely exciting,” Hessert said. “You’ll see a lot of stuff going on and sometimes it works out in your favor and sometimes it doesn’t. I mean I think the race should always finish under green so that’s one rule I think that’s definitely a benefit to this series.”
The race should always finish under green.
That’s a popular opinion amongst the NASCAR fanbase and a polarizing topic inside the garage. On one hand, like Hessert said, it’s good for the fans. On the other hand, the rule potentially costs a more-deserving driver the win.
NASCAR has been guilty of sacrificing integrity in the name of entertainment at times but Bill France Jr. was often quoted as telling drivers that Stock Car racing is show business first and foremost. And if that’s the case, and if ARCA can do it without fault, could the rule benefit NASCAR and the Sprint Cup Series?
Discuss amongst yourselves.
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