April 13, 2010
By Allen Madding
So far this season, the newly implemented three attempts at a green, white, checkered finish has been an important part in the determination of the finish of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Despite a driver leading 130 laps or leading by a two second margin, if the yellow flag comes out with a handful of laps left in an event, the green, white, checker finish rule has provided a fruit-basket-turnover “anyone can win at the last minute” dramatic finish.
This weekend, after Fox pre-race analyst attempted to convert the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series into a NCAA Basketball Bracket (no one has figured this one out) and then wasted viewers’ time eating sandwiches on the hood of Carl Edwards Subway Ford, a race broke out at Phoenix.
Jimmie Johnson led 113 laps in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Subway Fresh Fit 600 at Phoenix -- as did Kyle Busch. Juan Pablo Montoya who has been making his presence known this season led 104 laps.
Phoenix International Raceway elected to add 65 laps to this year’s event in order for the event to finish under the lights for the last 100 laps. At lap 373, Kyle Busch had garnered almost a two second lead over Jimmie Johnson and appeared to be driving off into the Musco lighted night with three laps to go when the yellow flag flapped in the hot Arizona breeze for the cut tire on Scott Riggs’ No. 90 Keyed-Up Motorsports Chevrolet.
A hush fell over the partially filled grandstands as everyone muttered “green, white, checker finish.”
All of the leaders hit pit road for tires and the drama began with crew chief strategy for gaining track position. Johnson’s No. 48 team and Kyle Busch’s No. 18 crew elected for four tires, while Jeff Gordon’s “Rainbow Warriors” and Ryan Newman’s No. 39 team chose to only put on two tires and beat the crowd out of the pits early.
The pit road strategies employed by the teams jumbled the cars in the top ten positions. Kyle Busch came into the pits as the leader and came back on the track in eighth position. Johnson returned in seventh. Gordon returned to the track as the leader with Ryan Newman posed beside him in second place for the double file “shootout style” green, white, checker finish.
When the green flag waved to restart the event, Newman quickly took the lead away from Gordon and seized his first win in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet since joining the newly formed team in 2009.
Newman led only four laps of the re-extended 378 lap NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Subway Fresh Fit 600 at Phoenix but cinched the checkered flag on the money lap.
The green, white, checker finish rule is proving to add more drama to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series than Fox Sports’ lame attempts to create corny bits like Digger, “a Slice of Pizzi”, and the NASCAR Brackets. Perhaps what is happening on the race track is more intriguing than watching Jeff Hammond and Darrell Waltrip eating breakfast sandwiches off the hood of a race car after all.
The thoughts and ideas expressed by this writer or any other writer on Insider Racing News, are not necessarily the views of the staff and/or management of IRN.