All-Star Race winner Chase Elliott felt the choose rule implemented Wednesday night at Bristol Motor Speedway was a long time coming and needs to stay.
“I don’t think there’s really a reason not to have it,” said Elliott. “There’s no reason to me why you shouldn’t have the choice, or you should be automatically told where you’re going to line up when one lane has an obvious advantage just based on where you come off pit road.
“To me, life isn’t fair, but it just makes way more sense to put it in our hands. It either works out for you or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t work out, it’s your own fault, not the luck of the draw, where you come off pit road.”
With the All-Star Race awarding no points, NASCAR officials once again used the race as a guinea pig for new ideas. The choose rule allows drivers to pick the lane they want to restart in, either inside or outside.
Drivers like Denny Hamlin have been vocal in recent months about giving the rule a try, especially at tracks where one lane has a clear advantage. Some teams have gone as far as counting cars off pit road after pit stops, resulting in the driver slowing down to get the right odd or even position for the lane they’d like. Hamlin and others have expressed how the gamesmanship is going to lead to damaged race cars.
Second-place finisher Kyle Busch thought the choose rule played out OK. At Bristol, the inside lane didn’t fire off well on restarts, and the leader routinely took the outside. Busch also chose the outside for the final restart of the night and rocketed toward the front.
“It seemed like a lot of times guys were restarting kind of in their positions, maybe one-off here or there, but not a whole lot different,” he said. “There was a time when I think there was like four or five guys that chose the outside, one guy on the inside. I went ahead and took that inside spot. I think I netted out back even again.
“The inside here tonight, for whatever reason, even though the inside is the preferred groove once you get going, it’s such a detriment when you fire off. I don’t know why. It’s just weird. I thought (the rule) worked well, went well. Maybe we’ll see it happen more.”
Kevin Harvick, who finished third, also had no qualms about how it played out.
“I think it just takes all the question out of where everybody is and who’s where,” he said. “When you get to that line, everybody has already made their choice and there’s no funny business of people trying to start in a different lane or do something that they didn’t choose to do.
“I think that went really well and for the most part, I don’t think there was any issue.”