NASCAR’s Overtime Rules Are Fine As Is

By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor

A NASCAR Cup Series record of five attempts at overtime in the Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway is not a reason or a just cause to change the overtime rules as some have called for. A perfect storm of events created the multiple overtimes that culminated in Joey Logano’s victory.

First, a late-race caution for a spin by Austin Cindric pushed the scheduled 300-lap race into overtime. Cindric’s spin was sparked by a right rear tire that was going down. At the same time, teams were on varying fuel strategies due to earlier cautions. 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick and Bubba Wallace were among those that had to pit prior to the first attempt at overtime.

A dive-bomb by Kyle Larson on the first attempt at overtime resulted in a pileup that ended the race for Ross Chastain, Ty Gibbs and others. The second attempt at overtime also resulted in a pileup. Then Larson ran out of fuel on the third attempt, sparking a wreck on the restart. The fourth attempt was waved off after Josh Berry was spun, resulting in the fifth and final attempt at overtime.

Only once before has one of NASCAR’s three National Touring Series had five attempts at Overtime, the NASCAR Xfinity Series 2018 season opener at Daytona Int’l Speedway. The five attempts of overtime in the Power Shares QQQ 300 resulted in the closest finish in NASCAR history with Reddick winning over Elliott Sadler by 0.0004 seconds.

Of the over 450 other races in NASCAR’s three National Touring Series, only one other has had more than four attempts, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series’ 2004 race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. A late-race caution for debris sparked a chaotic quadruple overtime that resulted in a last lap pass for the win by David Starr.

The current rule that allows for unlimited attempts at overtime is in its fourth iteration. When overtime, then known as Green-White-Checkered, was introduced to the Cup and Xfinity Series in mid-2004, they were limited to just one attempt. That lasted until 2010 when officials increased the number of attempts to three. 2016 saw the introduction of the ‘overtime line’ which varied in location from track to track and if the leader had crossed the line before a caution waved during overtime, the race ended under caution.

Prior to the playoffs in 2017, the ‘overtime line’ was effectively eliminated as it moved back to the start-finish line. However, NASCAR also returned to unlimited attempts at overtime. Since that change, there’s been 158 points races that have been pushed into overtime. Of those 158 races only two have had five attempts.

The whole reason for having overtime is to attempt to give race fans a green-flag finish, not for the wrecks or the chaos. Unfortunately, wrecks, chaos, and controversy sometimes follow overtime attempts, but it is not an every time occurrence.

As lined out, a perfect storm of factors had to line up to create the chaotic nature of five attempts at overtime. Those factors should not be a reason to change the overtime rules. With the ever-evolving battle to give race fans a green-flag finish, and the recent complaints about five attempts at overtime, the final lyric from The Warning’s song “Evolve” might just be the question to ask, “Is it right or wrong to evolve?”

The overtime rules are not the problem and do not need to be changed a fifth time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *