In response to drivers’ concerns over restart rules and the ostensible growing tendency of drivers to break them, NASCAR announced this week a doubling of the length of the restart zones.
In feet, the length of the restart zone has been set at two times pit road speed. At Dover, where pit road speed is 35 mph, the restart zone measured 70 feet. Now it’s 140 feet, and most drivers felt the expansion will restore, appropriately, some of the advantage the race leader should have.
“To lengthen that box, I think is a great move,” said six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. “I’m hopeful that they lengthen the box and bring it closer to the start/finish line. I think it will slow down some of the three- and four-wide into Turn 1 scenarios we have had. It will be less distance to get speed built up closer to the start/finish line and I think we will maybe control that space a little bit better.
“We should have better side-by-side restarts, which is what everybody is after. And then, obviously, the goal here is to give control back to the guy that has earned it – to the leader. That’s what happens, and I’m in favor of it. It’s a good call, and I am excited to see how it plays out.”
Team Penske driver Joey Logano, whose teammate, Brad Keselowski, was penalized for jumping a restart last Sunday at New Hampshire, approved of the rule change.
“This doesn’t seem like anything that’s crazy, out-of-the-box, to me, as far as the rules change,” Logano said. “I remember growing up racing short tracks and stuff, and you could hit the gas in Turn 3 and go whenever you want. I feel like this kind of opens the box, which is good. 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.
“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.”