NASCAR's Nationwide Series will go to double-file 'shootout style' restarts next Friday night at Daytona International Speedway, it has been announced.
Under the format, the first- and second-place cars will line up side-by-side as the green flag is displayed for each restart.
Double-file restarts were introduced at the non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race in May and the change was fully instituted for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series earlier this month at Pocono Raceway.
Under the previous format, cars on the lead lap would restart in a single-file line while lapped cars would start in a line next to them.
Drivers and fans have been enthusiastic about the new format, which has been showcased on three different track types thus far in NASCAR Sprint Cup competition. NASCAR officials chose to gauge the format on various configurations before instituting double-file restarts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
"This is going to be extremely exciting for the NASCAR Nationwide Series," said Joe Balash, the NASCAR Nationwide Series director. "As they have done in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, double-file restarts - shootout style will add to even more close competition in our series and offer more excitement for our fans. The format will also help give us more standard restarts every time."
NASCAR Nationwide Series regular Jason Leffler is supportive of the move. “Double-file restarts are going to add a lot of excitement to the [NASCAR] Nationwide races. It's going to allow us the opportunity to race for position on the restarts instead of wasting valuable time trying to get by a lapped car,” Leffler added.
“There are going to be times it hurts you, but I think more often than not, it is going to be a benefit. I'm looking forward to it and I think the fans are going to love it!”
The NASCAR Nationwide Series will use the same double-file restart format as NASCAR Sprint Cup. The race leader will have the option to restart on the inside or outside lane. The second-place car then restarts next to the leader. Regardless of the leader's starting position, cars in odd-number positions (3rd, 5th, 7th places, etc.) will restart on the inside lane, while those in even-number positions (4th, 6th, 8th places, etc.) will restart on the outside. All restarts will use the same format regardless of the number of laps remaining in the race.
The first-place car will continue to control the timing of restarts in a designated zone on the track, while the rest of the cars are to stay in line until they reach the start/finish line. The first eligible car a lap or more down will continue to earn one lap back following a caution, which is known as the “free pass.” Also, the “free pass” will remain in effect the entire race instead of being eliminated with 10 or fewer laps to go in the event.