NASCAR has revamped its restart policy beginning with Sunday's Geico 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.
The new procedure announced during Sunday's drivers' meeting will see NASCAR continue using the much-maligned designated restart zones and as before, the leader will continue to dictate pace. But once the leader begins to accelerate the green flag will be displayed and the second-place driver is free to beat the leader to the start/finish line.
All drivers still must stay in their lane until they pass under the green flag and all other restart rules are unchanged.
By allowing the second-place car to pass the leader the thinking is that the rash of controversial incidents on restarts will be eliminated, but not everyone is in agreement.
"From a competitors' side of it, I feel like the leader should be protected," Mark Martin told SB Nation. "I like the rule the way it was, but that's OK. It's going to be interesting now as a competitor because we'll monkey with the rules as much as we can and try and beat the leader to the line.
"It may work out better, but I just don't know. It just seems like there is going to be more monkey business than before."
The previous rule stated the leader must be not be passed before the line and led to a series of controversial incidents
A week ago at Richmond, second-place Carl Edwards beat leader Paul Menard to the start/finish line but was not penalized because NASCAR maintained Menard had spun his tires. The night before in the Nationwide Series race Brad Keselowski beat leader Brian Scott, but no penalty was issued. And in June at Dover, Jimmie Johnson was denied a potential victory when NASCAR ruled he jumped a restart and was subsequently black flagged.
NASCAR has resisted dramatic changes to its restart policy instead hoping drivers would police themselves. In Sunday's meeting several drivers including Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman had questions about the new policy.
"Everybody knows how to do this and we won't have to micromanage your restarts," NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Director David Hoots told drivers.