Overtime line, 3 p.m. start time lose, Kahne and IMS win at Brickyard 400

2017-July23-kaseyKahne-hero.jpgKasey Kahne leads Brad Keselowski late in the Brickyard 400 on the way his first win after a 102-race winless streak.
Nascar.com/Courtesy

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Kasey Kahne won his first race since August 2014 Sunday when he took the checkered flag in the 2017 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

After lackluster racing over pretty much the entire course of the race’s history, Sunday’s race was not only certainly the most exciting Brickyard 400 ever, but also one of the best races so far this season. On the eve of NASCAR likely changing the rules package for Indy next season based on the success of the Xfinity Series package just a day prior, it appears as if maybe it doesn’t need it.

Whether it was stage racing, the current NASCAR aero package or just luck, Sunday’s race was compelling throughout, had cautions at the right parts, had decent passing and good racing, and if you like wrecks, well, it had plenty of those too.

So not only did Kasey Kahne win for the first time in more than 100 races, but Indianapolis Motor Speedway won for possibly the first time in the Brickyard’s history, certainly since the 2008 tire debacle that no one can seem to forget nearly 10 years later.

But it wasn’t all good Sunday. Two very large things could have ruined a great race, and they worked together at the end to keep fans from seeing a green flag finish.

If NASCAR wants to start races at 3 p.m., that’s fine. But install lights first at those tracks. Today’s race had a red flag for rain and a red flag for an accident. But neither of them were that long. We also had two attempts at overtime, and we couldn’t have had another, because we ran out of daylight.

These 3 p.m. races may work under perfect circumstances, but they don’t leave a lot of room for error. While I think shorter races would help NASCAR, with the current race lengths, chopping the end of the race off due to lack of light is going to remove the best part of the race. I understand the desire to race in prime time, and I understand getting those West Coast eyeballs. But there needs to be something in place when things don’t go right.

And for the second time this year, NASCAR held off throwing the caution after a crash on the backstretch until the leader could cross the overtime line so the race would end at that point and another restart wouldn’t need to be held.

I don’t think, based on the light, that they could have restarted the race again. And NASCAR is going to argue that they threw the caution as soon as they knew they had to. But I’m sorry, the sight of smoke will cause a caution at any other point in the race, why the long delay with the overtime line?

The overtime line needs to go. If NASCAR doesn’t want to extend races, then stop. Get rid of overtime and deal with the fan reaction every time a race ends under yellow.

That, or fix the rule. NASCAR fans deserve to see a green flag finish. So adopt the ARCA rule. It doesn’t matter when the flag waves, if the leader has not crossed the line under the checkered flag when there is a caution, the race is restarted, no matter how many times it takes.

Had they gone to three attempts today, it would have been one of only a few times in NASCAR history they have gone to that many. When they tried three times, it rarely came to that. And while the finish line is a better overtime line than the current one, it isn’t needed. Just end the race under green. It’s not that difficult.

I try not to be super critical of NASCAR. They’re doing what they can to make things better. But this overtime thing has had a solution for a long time, just for some reason NASCAR doesn’t want to try it. How many truck races did it affect when they had unlimited attempts? That’s right — none.

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