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Double Is Trouble For Some Sprint Cup Competitors

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, July 12 2009

Racing at Chicagoland Speedway brought out the worst of double-file restarts.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

The race started with no problem Saturday night, but Chicagoland Speedway brought out the worst in double-file restarts. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Some of the sheen is coming off the new, highly touted, previously praised double-file restart thing and not just because of the of television “talent’s” narcissistic, ad nauseum  “shoooootout staaaal” blitherings.

Drivers, too, seem to be jumping up and down on the use of restarts, where the cars at the front of the field line up next to each other to take green flags.

Mark Martin led a parade of drivers who took to denouncing the restarts late Saturday night/early Sunday morning.

That was odd because Martin not only had just won the LifeLock 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, but he had won because he out-executed Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon on a double-file restart.

“The double-file restarts,” Martin said after his fourth victory of the season, “and I don’t mean this coy, but seriously when you think about double-file restart, what’s exciting about that? What’s exciting about it is you take the guy that probably earned a spot and you mess him up. That’s kind of what it is a little bit, right?”

Martin said that while he won the race on a D-F restart at Chicagoland, he could easily have wound up losing because of them.

“It kind of happened tonight. You know, you took the car that was gonna win the race for sure and you had a double-file restart and you took the car that was second and put him out front, and then you had another one, and I wound up in fourth or something.”

So that’s kind of what that whole thing is all about.

“So when the cautions start coming, you know, I cringe because I got the superior car on the long run and who knows what happens on the short runs.  We didn’t have very many restarts.  I got great restarts every restart all night except for that one or two.”

Also taking a rip at the restarts was Jeff Burton.

Burton had good reason for his growing disdain for the things after Chicagoland.

“Double-file restarts four weeks in a row and I have been in wrecks four weeks in a row,” Burton said. “I know it is exciting to watch and I am sure it is exciting to talk about but my perspective right now isn’t really good. It has been four weeks that wrecks happened in front of us and we have been in four of them. I am about done with them.”

Contained in Burton’s comment is the crux of the issue: They make for excitement and hence benefit the fans, but they create costly problems for teams and drivers.

Some drivers seem to think the former is more important for their sport than the latter.

“They’re cool,” Stewart-Haas Racing driver Ryan Newman said.
Jimmie Johnson took a more eloquent tact.

“They certainly make things exciting,” Johnson said. “They give everybody a chance and when you can group everyone up that close and they can see the front and they know the checkered flag is not far away, the racing just gets really intense. I agree. The racing has been extremely intense. I’ve had some weeks that it worked for me and some that it worked against me.

“This weekend, we were leading the race and the No. 11 (Hamlin) tries pushing me all the way through (Turns) 1 and 2 on the restart and I got real loose, and luckily I didn’t wreck. But it’s just being aggressive and the nature of this double-file racing.”
Johnson said that the more the restarts are used, the better thing will get for the fans if not the drivers.

“I think we’re all getting more comfortable with it,” Johnson said. “The car, you can actually lean on each other and really make bumper-to-bumper contact on the straightaways. And it’s like a short track at 190 mph. It’s great but we’re all getting more and more comfortable with it and pretty soon we’re going to have some big pile-ups.”

– Jim Pedley can be reached at  jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, July 12 2009
3 Comments

3 Comments »

  • Ronald Natzel says:

    OH those shootout style double file restarts. The poor drivers just can’t find a way to drive against folks that are as fast as them. They must really need the lapped cars to stroke their ego. As I recall, isn’t the start of the race a “Double File Shootout Style”? I guess they can handle it then, but not when they are tired. How about we stop the race with 50 laps to go so these precious “racers”
    can catch a quick nap. You know how the little babies get when they are tired. Come on folks lets try to help these “Iron Men”.

  • SallyB says:

    So now the drivers are complaining about having to race with the top contenders rather than complaining about having to race against lap down cars that ‘interfere’ with their racing each other? Frankly I could care less which way they do it, but is it really that different, other than who they complain about?

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