Drivers and fans for years have lobbied for the installment of a choose cone rule in NASCAR, and the sanctioning body is finally putting the concept to the test in the Cup Series.
The All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Wednesday, July 15 will feature a choose cone rule, according to The Athletic, which noted NASCAR is expected to make the announcement Wednesday.
NASCAR likes to experiment with potential rule changes at the All-Star Race, a non-points event, which makes the mid-July short track race a perfect time to test the choose cone concept for the first time in NASCAR’s three premier series.
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Choose cones are used for non-NASCAR short track races around the country. During a caution, they allow drivers to choose the lane in which they want to restart. NASCAR only gives that option to the driver in first place; everybody else must restart based on their position, with odd numbers on the inside and even numbers on the outside.
A choose cone rule would eliminate some shenanigans on pit road where drivers try to jostle for position based on the lane in which they want to restart.
“I would definitely be for (the choose cone),” driver Martin Truex Jr. said in May after a night of frustrating restarts from the inside lane at Darlington. “I think it’s a good option. I think it works well on the short tracks where they do it. I think with this rules package that we have at bigger tracks it would be something that as drivers we would all be interested in.”
Added Joey Logano after that race: “Every meeting that I’ve had I’ve always brought up the choose rule. Let’s do it. I see nothing bad that it can bring. It brings another strategy to the table, it’s definitely something to talk about. You don’t have luck becoming involved. … I tell you, if I see a bunch of 12-year-olds do it in the Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway, I’m pretty sure all of us could figure it out.”
According to The Athletic’s report, drivers in the All-Star Race will get their chances to choose a lane when the field gets the one to go signal under caution. One they pick a lane, they have to stick with it, or they will lose their position.
The report did not indicate whether the choose cone rule would be used in the All-Star Open, a qualifying race held before the All-Star Race at Bristol.
“The choose cone is something that is utilized throughout short tracks in America,” said Austin Dillon in May. “Dirt track, asphalt, you name it. You see it on a weekly basis at places that, heck, when I was Legends car racing at 14 with no radios, you could figure out how to make the choose cone work. You just chose and that was your line you had to make. This puts it in the driver’s hands. It kind of allows us to decide our fate when it comes down to restarts.
“We’ve been able to bring our sport back through a pandemic, I think we can make a choose rule work. It’s not that complicated in my eyes.”
The July 15 NASCAR All-Star Race was moved from Charlotte Motor Speedway to Bristol Motor Speedway amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It will mark the first time the world’s fastest half-mile has hosted the All-Star Race and just the second time it has been held outside of Charlotte.