When something undesirable happens it can often be ruled as a fluke, but a second occurrence constitutes a pattern that demands addressing. So it is that after two straight races of finishing under the un-thrilling yellow flag the fans of the IndyCar series are desperately talking up the N-Word style green-white-checkered (GWC) finish. With much wailing and gnashing of teeth the masses are gathering at 16th and Georgetown, marching arm in arm and chanting “GWC will set us free!” and “Hey hey, ho ho, the yellow flag has got to go!”
For those of you who do not watch N-Word races, the GWC policy states that if the final lap is conducted under a yellow or red flag the racers will be given one chance to race under green flag conditions for two laps once the track is judged to be clear. If anyone wrecks during that two laps then the race will finish under a yellow flag, except if it crash is on the last lap whereby officials just let the other racers keep on rolling so Mark Martin can remain winless at Daytona.
Should the ICS ever consider adopting a similar measure the official stance of My Name Is IRL is “no”. Specifically, “NO FREAKING WAY!” This is not a position brought about by the sanctity of racing only the allotted laps or by concerns of becoming stock car-ish, but rather because the GWC doesn’t guarantee much excitement beyond more crashing. Regardless of the level of their profession, if you get a bunch of drivers together in close quarters and have them drag race their way while running on fumes then the only thing you guarantee is a that they will all switch into “Road Warrior” mode and attempt to pass each other by any means necessary.
If anyone has the stats it would be interesting to see how many of these Cup race finishes end with crashes during the Two Laps of Fury, because it certainly seems a goodly portion of the ones your humble host happens to catch end with that kind of madness. It bears noting that there is reason behind not having unlimited finishes guaranteeing a green flag because the destruction level is correspondingly unlimited. That’s not hyperbole because I swear I was watching some Friday night ARCA race in the past few years and they had like 7 of these GWC deals because they couldn’t get two clean laps at the end. That’s not racing – that’s demolition derby.
However, if something absolutely must be done to artificially create excitement then we must consider all option beyond adding laps via the already flawed GWC finish. To start we will need to define a commit point for what exactly constitutes The End of each race, which would be based on the race length and circuit. Something like 2 laps remaining at Long Beach, 5 laps at Texas, and 10 laps at Milwaukee. Once you have that established you can start promoting your own “21st Century Style” rules for finishing the race. Choices at commit point include:
• Require all cars running outside of the Top 5 to pull over. Listen, if you’re not in the race it doesn’t matter. For real. All competitors from sixth-place on down get the same money for every race so there’s no reason to risk wrecking the equipment while trying to gain one or two measly little positions. If you find yourself behind Milka then you just have to deal with it.
• Require Scott Dixon to pull over if he IS leading. The unspoken reason for wanting a contrived finish is in the faint hope that someone might actually outrace the guy who’s laying a total smack-down on the series right now. People hate him for being boring and they think his dominance is the worst thing to happen to the IRL since the Gen IV engine debacle, so they desperately want him to start losing to far more personable drivers.
• Require Marco Andretti to pull over if he IS NOT leading. Debate it over whether or not it’s his fault, but the fact remains both of these last two races have finished under yellow because of accidents involving Marco. Short track or super speedway, inside or outside line, doesn’t matter. His driving skills and confidence level have increased, but so have the AGR repair bills. (My guess is his run of misfortune has been caused by a voodoo doll Tony Kanaan keeps in a hidden compartment in his Dallara, but that hasn't been proven.)
• Require everyone to pit except Danica Patrick. Hey, if we’re contriving race finishes then why not go for the one that helps the league the most?
• Require green flag racing regardless of track condition. For all of the realistic representations of the “Indianapolis 500 Legends” game on the Wii, the game has the unusual quirk of not having any yellow flags during a race. In fact, there are several scenarios where you have to race through a half lap full of flaming carnage at darn near top speed since apparently there were no such things as yellow flags before 1972. Who knew? If we’re willing to accept the likely GWC carnage then let’s just go all the way and embrace the video game solution to this pesky problem. As an added bonus, you can guarantee a ratings bonanza by attracting the “World’s Scariest Police Chases” crowd.
If none of these sound appealing then there’s always the dreaded International Option. As you know, evenly-scored soccer matches throughout the world are often decided by penalty kicks, so applying this logic to auto racing could provide a new twist to determining a definitive race winner. Simply take all cars on the lead lap and have them each enter pit lane, perform a full fuel load and tire change, and exit. The one with the fastest pit stop is declared the victor in overtime. It’s no less contrived than a GWC, and it’s a whole lot safer.
All joking aside, N-Word expert Jayski notes that "There have been 30 green-white-checkered [GWC] finishes in Cup history, and only six times has the leader lost the lead on those final two laps." Bottom line, it's an 80% chance the madness results in no lead change, so why bother?
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