Choose rule a welcomed return among several drivers

Russell LaBounty/Motorsport Images

Choose rule a welcomed return among several drivers

NASCAR

Choose rule a welcomed return among several drivers

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One of the drivers who had been nudging NASCAR for years about the choose rule, Joey Logano was among those pleased with its reintroduction to the Cup Series at Michigan.

“It definitely adds something to the race,” said Logano. “There is a lot to think about going to it, and you see a lot of drivers really pick up a lot of spots here today by making that bet. It is a lot to study, which is what I am going to do after this. There is a lot to study on how these restarts work now—a lot for everybody to learn. A lot to take advantage of, and it evolved a lot through the race from what it was in the beginning to the middle and end where it was much different.

“It is cool. I like it. You aren’t giving up spots trying to get a certain row on pit road. You can actually have your own fate in your hands a little bit so you can make those decisions yourself. I am good with it. I like it. I am glad it went this way.”

The procedure debuted last month in the All-Star Race at Bristol, and NASCAR announced days before the action at Michigan it would be a permanent addition to the racing. Under caution at the one-to-go signal, drivers have the choice of which lane they want to restart in, and once the decision is made, they cannot change their mind.

Drivers can gain or lose positions on their decision. However, at tracks where there is a lane that has a clear advantage, it’s worth either losing a spot to stick to that lane or going for the track position and trying to make the weaker lane work.

After Michigan, the choose rule received plenty of praise. Darrell Wallace Jr. said “good job, NASCAR” and that it was fun. After winning the Saturday race, Kevin Harvick praised NASCAR officials for the tweaks they made going into the Cup Series race, such as moving the designated mark on the track another 100 feet past the start/finish line.

“I think it definitely gave some guys a chance that were kind of buried eighth or ninth, and I think the 9 [Chase Elliott] car was one of those and wound up racing for the win,” said Harvick on Saturday evening. “So definitely a lot to think about right there and definitely some processes that you have to go through, but you can take a chance and gain some track position. I thought it went well and did exactly what everybody thought it would do.”

Elliott used the inside lane to gain a few spots on a restart in Saturday’s race, which he then turned into taking the race lead. It was a move that “shocked” Ryan Blaney. But overall, Blaney thought the choose rule had a good impact on the race, and he was a fan.

Kyle Busch also said he felt the policy worked as intended. Matt DiBenedetto admitted he left the decision of where he started up to his spotter, Doug Campbell.

“The only person I feel bad for is my spotter,” said DiBenedetto. “I’m not going to lie to you; I kind of put it all on him. … He deserves quite a shout out for really paying a lot of good attention and counting how many cars are going to the inside lane versus the out and managing risk versus reward. I leaned on him a lot. Spotters are so crucial nowadays with this style of racing and the choose rule, but it was executed well.

“I think it was actually better than I thought. Everybody did a good job executing. It was pretty clear-cut, straightforward, especially at Michigan it was managing how much risk you wanted to take.”

Two drivers didn’t seem to have an opinion one way or the other. Martin Truex Jr. said Saturday it was “OK” and interesting to see how it played out.

“I don’t know that it changed the race a whole lot, but it was interesting for sure,” said Truex. “We’ll see how it plays out ‑‑ we seen a lot of guys pick the outside, but a few guys were able to get the lead from the bottom as well.”

The other was Brad Keselowski, who added “there were parts I liked, and there were parts I didn’t like. I’m kind of agnostic, to be honest. I thought, at the front, it seemed to be a little fun, something kind of different. It’s one of those things where when you eat chocolate you want vanilla sometimes; it felt different and different was kind of fun. There were other parts where I was kind of a little questioning about it. Overall I’m kind of neutral on it.”

Sunday’s second-place finisher Denny Hamlin felt the weekend went smoothly in the kick-off of the choose rule era.

“Who knows what happens from 20th on back,” he said. “It seemed like it worked well. This is a good track for it. You essentially have two miles to figure it out where you need to be after you choose. Certainly, I think it’s a good track to kind of start to implement it.”

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