NASCAR is yet again changing the way it finishes races that go beyond the scheduled distance, this time dramatically.
Thursday afternoon, the sanctioning body introduced a new element called "overtime line," which it does not explain in detail, other than to say, "The location of the overtime line will vary by track." No other details on the location of the overtime line were stipulated.
Here's how the overtime restart procedure works:
"After taking the green on the overtime restart, if the leader then passes the overtime line on the first lap under green before a caution comes out (a "clean restart"), it will be considered a valid green-white-checkered attempt. However, if a caution comes out before the leader passes the overtime line on the first lap under green, it will not be considered a valid attempt, and a subsequent attempt will be made. If necessary, multiple subsequent attempts will be made until a valid attempt occurs.
"Once a valid attempt is achieved (clean restart), it will become the only attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. If a caution comes out at any time during the valid green-white-checkered attempt, the field will be frozen and the checkered/yellow or checkered/red displayed to cars at the finish line."
Per the NASCAR bulletin, this procedure will be in place for all tracks, not just Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, the two restrictor-plate tracks.
Last fall at Talladega, there was great controversy at the end of the race, when a green-white-checkered restart was waived off just before the field took the green and on the next restart, a caution came out just after the field took the green when Kevin Harvick moved up the track and hit Trevor Bayne. Joey Logano won that race, while the timing of the caution meant Dale Earnhardt Jr., who had dominated the race, finished a close second.
Afterward, there were complaints from teams and fans alike about the conclusion of the race.