Last weekend I attended the Indianapolis 500 like I do every Memorial Day weekend. To say the race was exciting is an understatement. There were 68 lead changes in over 200 laps, which is a record and nearly double the amount of last year’s record setting amount of lead changes. In short, IndyCar racing is getting better. Finally. The end of the race was anticlimactic for some, but for those whom appreciate motorsports going to scheduled distance ending a race behind the pace car isn’t a big deal. NASCAR uses a gimmick they call “Green White Checkered” finishes, from David Newton:
A green-white-checkered finish signifies two laps will be run. NASCAR throws a green flag and the cars race a lap until the white flag -- signifying the final lap of a race -- is shown and then the drivers race that final lap to the checkered-flag finish.
You might ask how do I know this is a gimmick? Well, even one of NASCAR’s worse beat reporters admits it’s a gimmick:
This is a novel idea, except for the fact that you’re extending the race. You have the potential to turn the Daytona 500 into the Daytona 507.5. Doesn’t have quite the same connotation, does it?
I understand racing isn’t generally the most exciting way to spend your Sunday afternoons, but sports should only go into overtime if at the end of regulation there’s a tie. In any form of racing (human, horse, auto) no such possibility exists. One racer will always finish before another.
So, why does NASCAR have G/W/C and why does everyone feel this year’s Indy 500 could benefit from it? No clue. Some say IndyCar needs to change its tradition to keep up with the times. Well, based on the television ratings no one was watching the race anyway, so adding a G/W/C won’t do much to improve viewership.
And to be honest, NASCAR’s ratings have been down or flat over the past few years, so it seems like people in general are just about tuned out of watching racing on television.
Here’s a few facts people rarely bring up or remember, Dale Earnhardt’s 1998 Daytona 500 win was won under caution and no one says it isn’t legitimate, and few complained at the time that he won under caution. Secondly, each of Dario Franchitti’s three Indianapolis 500 wins came under caution, and again, no one questions the legitimacy of those wins.
The other suggestion that’s been bandied about is utilizing the red flag to stop the race and running the remaining scheduled laps. I’m not entirely on board with that strategy, but that seems a far better procedure than modifying the race. Crew chiefs and engineers measure fuel mileage for every lap, and changing the length of races throws the entire race and pit strategy out the window.
So, I leave you with these two options: red flag and finish scheduled laps under green or finish under caution. G/W/C is a gimmick employed to keep casual fans interested in racing. Neither drivers nor real motorsport fans are crying if races end under caution.
tl; dr is a tech nerd term for too long; didn’t read. the purpose of these posts is to provide a quick summary and analysis of something interesting in the sports world.