Drivers praise NASCAR’s ruling on restarts, say more must be done

Restarts continue to be a hot topic in the Sprint Cup Series garage.

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One day after NASCAR announced it would double the restart zone starting this weekend at Dover International Speedway, Sprint Cup Series drivers praised the sanctioning body’s move.

For many drivers, the restart box was too small for their liking, and the policing of the situation was inconsistent at best. Many feel this move by NASCAR to expand the box will help alleviate some of the issues. After Dover, NASCAR will look at each track before expanding the restart zone. 

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch was pleased with NASCAR’s decision, saying it once again gives the leader an advantage on the restarts.  

"Obviously, when you’re the leader you want to have that advantage. You’re the one that is the leader," he said Friday at Dover. "You’re the one that’s in that position so you should have the advantage. With the restart zones and rules the way that they were, the leader was at the biggest disadvantage."

In addition to expanding the restart zone, Busch — and others — believe NASCAR should also police how the second-place car rolls to the restart.

"I think the only other thing to do is just make a rule that says the second-place car cannot beat the leader to the single red (restart) mark," said Busch. "That seems to be where most of the problems start to come up is when that second-place guy starts to roll on the leader a little bit and the leader wants to wait. … That’s the second-place guy starting the restart. You can’t have that, so I think you have to make a rule where that second-place guy has to stay behind the leader through the single red mark."

Hendrick Motorsports’ Jimmie Johnson echoed many of Busch’s sentiments, saying the drivers have been playing games on restarts, most of the time putting the leader at a disadvantage.

"You had cars leaving six to eight car lengths before the restart line and that forced NASCAR to start making some calls," said Johnson. "Now as we are making the calls, the leader of the race has been put in a disadvantage with such a small restart area. It’s very easy as the second-place car to time the roll and to get up and accelerate with the leader because it’s such a small area. I don’t even know how long we are in the restart box, but it’s like a second or two seconds, and it’s pretty easy to time that and be there to get an advantage on the leader of the race. But to lengthen that box, I think is a great move. 

On heels of Keselowski black flag, NASCAR extends Dover restart zone

"I am hopeful that they lengthen the box and bring it closer to the start/finish line," he said. "I think it will slow down some of the three-and-four-wide-into-Turn-1 scenarios we have had."

Much like Johnson, Team Penske’s Joey Logano would also like to see the restart zone expanded even further.

"What it’s doing is the box was so small before that, instead of a restart box, you might as well (have) just called it a restart line because everyone knows kind of a general area where you’re going to go," he said. "When everyone kind of knows that and there’s a small area where you have to go, people start timing that and people start laying back trying to get runs. You see that stacking effect a lot of times as a person goes later in the box like we saw last week. When you enlarge the box, it’s a little bit harder to time it because there’s a bigger area you can go."

Despite NASCAR’s move to expand the restart zone, Logano does not believe the games being played on restarts will come to an end — something he thinks the sanctioning body should still closely monitor.

"There’s going to be plenty of gamesmanship still, and I think NASCAR has also set the precedent with what they did last week and enforcing the rule," said Logano, referring to NASCAR’s decision to black flag teammate Brad Keselowski for jumping a restart. "That’s something they need to continue doing. It’s not just having it happen one time and then scare us, and then don’t do anything about it for the next three weeks. They finally put their foot down last week on what we can and can’t do, and that rule needs to be consistent and make sure that when they see something they make the same call and be consistent with that."