It's time for Nascar to do away with its "free pass" rule. The reasons for its creation no longer apply. For those of you who are unfamiliar with how this rule came about, here's a quick review. (The rest of you can skip the next paragraph.)
Back in 2003, Nascar used to race back to the start-finish line when the caution came out. In other words, if there was a crash in turn four that brought out the caution and the leaders were on the backstretch, they would continue to race through the accident scene and back to the line as if it were the end of the race. Most of the time the drivers slowed down and followed a so called "gentleman's agreement", but as you might imagine there were some exceptions. One of those exceptions came whenever there were lapped cars right behind the leader. They would use this opportunity to to unlap themselves by beating the leader (who was slowing down for the caution) back to the line. Everything changed however following this incident involving Dale Jarrett at New Hampshire in September 2003.
Nascar realized that racing back to the line was unsafe and started freezing the field at the moment of caution just like they do today. A byproduct of this rule however was that there was now no way for lapped cars to get their lap back; so Nascar created the "free pass" rule to give drivers who were a lap down some hope.
I always hated the "free pass" rule. I like to see drivers earn their laps back. I also like it when it means something if you go a lap down early in a race instead of being able to rely on the crutch that is the "free pass". At first this rule was somewhat tolerable because without it getting a lap back would have been nearly impossible after Nascar got rid of the racing back to the caution rule. My feelings have changed however since Nascar went to double file restarts last summer.
Now that Nascar has these double file restarts, lapped cars have another opportunity to get there lap back via the wave around rule. It requires a bit of gambling for the lapped cars but it's a way to get a lap back nonetheless.
So now that going a lap down is no longer a death sentence, Nascar should can the "free pass" and stop giving laps back like they're candy on Halloween. Last Sunday, 19 CARS, (19 FREAKING CARS!!!!!!!!!!) made up a lap via the wave around rule on the last caution. Get rid of the "free pass" rule Nascar and force teams to gamble to get their lap back.
Who's with me?