NASCAR to revert back to the 2022 restart zone length

One thing I mentioned last week of what I was watching for the NASCAR Cup Series race in Atlanta was the restart zone. NASCAR mentioned that they were also paying close attention to this area of emphasis last Sunday and would make a final determination on if it would stay that length or not for the remainder of the 2023 season.

They announced the ruling on SiriusXM’s The Morning Drive on NASCAR Radio that beginning this weekend in COTA, that they’ll revert back to the dimensions of 2022.

VP of Competition, Elton Sawyer, said on the show that they didn’t get what they were looking for out of the zone and with the feedback they’ve received, it was best to go back to the way that it was.

To start the season, NASCAR expanded the zone 50% at each track. They were 25% longer on each end of it.

We saw in Fontana on how much this was a factor however.

Per the rulebook, the leader of the race must get on the throttle inside of the zone. No one else can do so until the leader first does. If however, the leader doesn’t push the gas before the end of the restart zone, then everyone can then go.

For Fontana, most blamed Joey Logano (the leader at the time) for playing games. Kyle Busch was the most vocal about it saying that all the restart zone did was crash a lot of cars in California. He notes that expanding the zone is only negative and outweighs any possible positive to it.

The common consensus is the fact that everyone agrees that games are being played on the restarts. Extending the zone only creates more room for more games.

I get the notion that the leader should have the advantage, but those behind try to time it for when the leader goes. They lag back and try to time it out by if they’re far enough behind the row in front, they can get in the gas earlier and have a better run on everyone in front of them. If the leader, as in Logano’s case in Fontana, waits to go until deeper in the zone, it can create bottlenecks behind of drivers trying to go then having to slam the brakes again if they mistime it. Those behind them may think the leader went and storms off too when in reality, the leader didn’t do anything differently.

So, if you shorten the zone back up, you have less time for those games. But, you’re also taking away an advantage of the leader too.

“Logano was just maintaining his speed and everyone was gaining, gaining, gaining, gaining and closing up their gaps because they were all trying to lay back and then time the run. So he just waited for everybody to run into everybody and then went at the end of the zone,” Busch said.

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