Should NASCAR go back to ending races in regulation?

With how this past weekend’s racing ended in Daytona, the topic has been brought back up on whether NASCAR should just abolish overtime finishes or not? I mean, when is enough just that…enough?

I for one, side with them just going back to racing to the scheduled race distance and being done at that point. I get fans want green flag finishes; I truly do. It’s more exciting and better than leaving wanting more if it ends under caution. But, the way that they’re doing it now, well it doesn’t necessarily end under green anyways.

Neither one of the Xfinity or Cup Series races last weekend in Daytona ended at the finish line and with the way they race these events now, it’s going to become rarer and rarer that they do.

When crashes occur, you have to be quick on the button to display the caution. Lives are at stake here and time is of the essence. You can’t have safety vehicles rushing to the crash scene while cars are traveling at a high rate of speed around them.

So I get the quick cautions.

What I don’t get is, why do you need to keep making attempt after attempt to finish under green? How is it fair for a driver to get the white flag but just because of a crash behind them, the race has to restart? How is it fair to these owners to risk further crash damage because as we’ve seen lately, most of these races aren’t going into just overtime?

With how this racing package races, restarts are chaotic. It’s harder to pass, but the cars are running closer together as ever before. So, the best way to make up ground on the leader is to be overly aggressive on restarts. When you get to the end of a race and the win within sights, you go for it and apologize later.

Hence all this carnage late in these races.

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 20: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 Chevrolet, Erik Jones, driver of the #43 FOCUSfactor Chevrolet, Noah Gragson, driver of the #62 Beard Oil/South Point Chevrolet, and Todd Gilliland, driver of the #38 First Phase Credit Card Ford, spin after an on-track incident Series 64th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 20, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

So, I ask, when is enough…enough. If you get a late race caution in a NASCAR race, it starts to become amateur hour and that also isn’t good for the sport either.

It’s not fair to the leader. It’s not fair to the owners. It’s not fair to NASCAR. Why keep doing it?

Why not just go back to the way it was before and ending these races at the scheduled distance? I mean it’s called the Daytona 500, not the Daytona 530. All the races titles are a number for either the amount of laps or miles. Why go beyond that?

This isn’t a stick and ball sport so why try to be one with overtime finishes? I mean in those sports, it goes to overtime when there’s a tie at the end of regulation.

Take Daytona as an example, Lap 199 wasn’t a tie. So why do we need to go to Lap 201?

Not every ballgame is an instant classic. If you take an entire seasons worth of games, it’s rare that you get half of the season a classic. So why does NASCAR need to push every race to be an instant classic?

It also, in my opinion, would make the end of these races much safer too. It eliminates that 7th place driver thinking that they should win. Make a bonehead move, which lets be honest, that’s why most of these crashes occur, you won’t have enough time to get to first anyways.

There’s a reason you’re not in the lead at that time of the race and these drivers need to face that reality. You can’t take a car outside the top three of four at the end of a race and make it a race winning one by being overly aggressive while having no regard for any car in front of you in the process. The only reason that these drivers do that now, is because they all know that if a caution does occur, it bunches the field back up and they can try again being closer to the front than they were the last time.

If you end at Lap 200, that late move has a risk because you could bring out a caution and still not win because you won’t go back green to close the race out. So I think for one, it cleans up the racing at the end of these races.

It’s back to being more pure.

The other factor is, for just Daytona, there’s been 12 OT finishes for the Great American Race. 7 of those didn’t even have a change between who was leading Lap 200 under caution and who won the race in the end. Last Sunday was the first time since 2018 that it occurred, and both are the only times in the last decade we’ve seen it happen.

Daytona 500 overtimes

2023: Kyle Busch (leader at Lap 200), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. win

2022: Austin Cindric both

2020: Denny Hamlin both

2019: Denny Hamlin both

2018: Denny Hamlin (leader at Lap 200), Austin Dillon win

2015: Joey Logano both

2012: Matt Kenseth both

2011: David Ragan (leader at Lap 200), Trevor Bayne win

2010: Greg Biffle (leader at Lap 200), Jamie McMurray win

2007: Mark Martin (leader at Lap 200), Kevin Harvick win

2006: Jimmie Johnson both

2005: Jeff Gordon both

For the Coke Zero Sugar 400, well it’s the opposite. 60% of the overtime finishes saw a different winner than the one that led Lap 160 including each of the last four times.

Coke Zero Sugar 400

2021: Chris Buescher (leader at Lap 160), Ryan Blaney won

2020: Denny Hamlin (leader at Lap 160), William Byron won

2018: Kevin Harvick (leader at Lap 160), Erik Jones won

2017: David Ragan (leader at Lap 160), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won

2016: Brad Keselowski both

2015: Dale Earnhardt Jr. both

2013: Jimmie Johnson both

2011: Ryan Newman (leader at Lap 160), David Ragan won

2010: Clint Bowyer (leader at Lap 160), Kevin Harvick won

2008: Kyle Busch both

This topic started for the 2004 season and has been changed along the way several times. They used to even get three attempts and if they didn’t reach the finish line after the third restart, then the race ended. Now, it’s unlimited so long as you don’t take the white flag. But think about that for a minute. How many times do you want to see a caution fly between a restart and the next time coming around at speed?

That’s not good either to have several times you see them go green, then quickly crash.

Sometimes, you don’t need to fix what’s not broken and what it was before was the right way.

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