LOUDON WILL TEST RESTART RULE

   June 2009                                                  Dale Wilkerson

There was great concern that the double file restarts would be disastrous on a road course. However, that was not the case Sunday afternoon at the Infineon Motor Speedway in Sonoma, California.

The late re-starts saw eventual race winner Kasey Kahne getting a good jump each time, while the pack behind him looked just like any other NASCAR road course race. Guys were nudged out of the way at the two turns where passes are made there, a few were bumped in the famed ‘S’ curves, but there were no real surprises.

In fact, the top three cars, Kahne, Tony Stewart, and Marcos Ambrose had very little problems with traffic; even with the double file re-starts all three of these drivers pulled out to a comfortable advantage over the nearest pursuers.

This week, the Sprint Cup Series will be competing at the Loudon Motor Speedway, in New Hampshire. This flat track could provide an indication of what we will see at Martinsville, and at other flat tracks, this fall.

With pancake flat corners, and long straight-a-ways, drivers will be taking full advantage of the double file restarts this weekend.

For the race fans that have been waiting for ‘The Big One’ to happen on a restart, this might be your week. The first turn wall at Loudon may be knocked over before this one is over.

Loudon has been pretty much a one groove track since it opened. We have seen driver after driver mad at one another due to contact on track here. A few years ago, Jeff Gordon and Dale Jarrett had to be separated in the garage area, due to a problem on track.

If the restarts go south, or in this case rough, perhaps Bruton Smith and the folks with Speedway Motorsports Inc, the owners of this track, will re-configure it make it better suited for NASCAR racing.

When this track was opened, the original owners wanted a facility that could host open wheel, stock cars, and motorcycles. The motorcycles used part of the infield road-course and most of their races have been up to par.

The Indy Racing League ran several events here, to pretty much an empty house. The first races ran here, by the now defunct, CART series drew decent crowds to start with, but the spilt with the IRL in the mid-nineties hurt their attendance. 

The NASCAR fans of the New England area have turned out in huge numbers for every Sprint Cup event. These fans wanted NASCAR racing for years. They supported their local tracks, the NASCAR East Series, the NASCAR Modified Series, and the Nationwide Series. NASCAR tested the waters in Loudon with the Nationwide Series, before sending the Sprint Cup Series to the track known as the Magic Mile. Those first, then Busch Series, races were well received by the race fans of the Northeast. 

There have been some races with a lot of, let’s say ‘On track activity’ over the years. Several though, have been yawners. This week however, with every restart, the potential for door slamming, fender flopping, tires tearing, bumper bashing, brake rotor roasting, helmet slinging, tempers flaring, and a lot more drivers than just Rowdy and Robby having a hissy every time these guys drop the hammer.