Yellow scare

Posted by Iannucci | 6/12/2008 | 11 comments »
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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?


  1. Tabernerus // June 12, 2008 1:29 PM  

    Note that I do not want to change the rules because the most casual of fans might find a yellow-flag finish less than stimulating, but:

    If they're going to change the rules, I would advocate a system in which they determine ahead of time the go-zone, as Jeff said (ten laps on ovals, three on twisties, for example), and then after that point, don't count yellow laps. If they're extending the time anyway, then just pretend they ran the correct number of laps. Don't count yellows, clean up the track, and resume the race.

    That said, as someone on Track Forum said, "I thought it was the Daytona 500. But I turned it on, and they went 507.5 miles. I don't understand. Why did they call it a 500, then?" The race is for X distance, however you measure it. The driver that hits that mark first, wins. No? Well, unless you're Scott Goodyear at Indy. ;-)

  2. mmack // June 12, 2008 2:09 PM  


    If we're going to go the Full N-Word path here for artificial excitement, how about:

    In randomly chosen races, stop the race with ten to go and invert the field. Who wouldn't want to see Milka and Marty battle it out for their first win?

    To appease both oval track and road course purists: Figure Eight racing! Right and left turns on an oval!

    Before the start of the race, all drivers go to the entrance to pit road where they have to pull a car number out of a hat held by Brian Barnhardt. If you pull your own car number you have to try again. After pulling a number, you have to drive the car with the number you picked. Milka in a Penske: It's WIN-WIN!

    At the halfway point on oval tracks: Change direction from counter-clockwise to clockwise!

    On pitstops, make the driver get out and change their own d@mn tires! (Lesse, Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey, or was it the other way around?)

    And the piece de resistance: Trailer Racing. If you've ever had a chance to watch SpeedTV when they have Trailer Racing on, you know what I mean. If not, Google it and watch what comes up. For those on dial-up, imagine bomber-stock racing with clapped out old cars on a short track. OK, you say, that's pretty common. Then, imagine them towing a camper, trailer, or even a boat on a trailer behind them AS THEY RACE.

    So the Dallara may not be able to pull a full trailer, but a war wagon (The big four wheeled tool chests the mechanics roll out on pit road) is do-able.

    Other than that, I got nuttin'

    Other than Monster Trucks. There's no form of racing that can't be improved with a monster truck.

  3. Jennifer of Dog.Yarn.Knit. // June 12, 2008 2:54 PM  

    That was very entertaining. Thank you.

  4. pressdog // June 12, 2008 3:33 PM  

    I agree with Jeffy. If drivers know they have green-white-checkered they'll try even more insane shit. Option X: With 10 or less to go, the yellow laps don't count toward the total. This is also known as the Sprint Car Option since that's how we do it on the dirt. So when Marco causes someone to flip down the track like a freshly beheaded chicken with 6 to go, the lap count is frozen until the flaming wrecks are dragged off and Marco is banned. Then we start again.
    Option Y: Anyone who causes a wreck in the last 10 laps loses ALL his or her points for that race. IHJ makes the call, which means the Big Three cars will be held blameless, but still.

  5. Sarah Fan // June 12, 2008 5:33 PM  

    Obviously Jayski doesn't watch NASCAR. 30 GWC races in NASCAR history. Oh. Come. On. I think they had 30 of them in 2007 alone. Who are they trying to kid?

  6. meeshbeer // June 12, 2008 7:36 PM  

    BWAHAHAHAHA! mmack! too f'n funny!

  7. SandWedge // June 12, 2008 9:45 PM  

    can also try in the final 20 laps lower the yellow speed because cautioning at 60-90 sure doesn't help.

  8. Anonymous // June 13, 2008 1:39 AM  

    I am so mad @ Chip Ganassi !!!

    WHY did even suggest the Napcar GWC gimmick ???? Maybe because he has 3 taxicabs in napcar, what a fool Floyd is!

    NO NAPCAR gimmicks please !!!

  9. austex // June 13, 2008 5:04 AM  

    Maybe I've been influenced by N-car, but I really don't see how a GWC ending is any less "real" than a 7 lap parade yellow ending. The yellow flag ending is the equivilent of the soccer shoot-out. As far as the chance of wrecking--aren't they already going nuts to win if there isn't a yellow?

  10. mmack // June 13, 2008 6:24 AM  

    Maybe I've been influenced by N-car, but I really don't see how a GWC ending is any less "real" than a 7 lap parade yellow ending.

    austex, if you look at what happened that lead to NASCAR adopting the Green-White-Checkered rule, you'll know why so many people hate it.

    Flashback to Talladega and the 2004 Aaron's 400. Jeff Gordon and Dale Jr. are racing for the lead in the late stages of the race. With four laps to go Brian Vickers spins to bring out the caution, just moments after Junior GoDaddy(TM) passed Jeff for the lead. However, NASCAR, using the same rules people still argue about the IRL using in the 2002 Indianapolis 500, mandated that the field revert to the order at the previous scoring loop. That meant Gordon, like Castroneves at IMS in 2002, was scored the leader since he lead at the scoring loop. The race finished under caution and Gordon won.

    Sadly a number of the "fans" in attendance decided to reinforce the derogatory stereotypes of the "typical" N-word fan and protested by throwing beer cans, coolers, and seat cushions on the track and at Gordon's car.

    Per wiki:

    On the final lap, some angry fans again threw debris (seat cushions, alcoholic beverage bottles) on the track at Gordon, which angered many observers, including FOX commentators Chris Myers and Jeff Hammond.

    In the wake of the controversies, in mid-July 2004, all three touring series, adopted a new, revised green-white-checkered rule. The revised format handles late-race cautions in a standardized manner.

    Unfortunately this was not the first time certain "fans" showed their displeasure in such adult fashion. The same thing happened at the 2002 Pepsi 400. Wiki again:

    At the 2002 Pepsi 400, a late-race caution came out, and participants and spectators expected a red flag. NASCAR chose not to halt the race, citing too few laps remaining, and fans plummeted the circuit with cans and other debris as it finished under yellow.

    I'm sorry, but any rule implemented in a sport in part because fans don't like the result and throw temper-tantrums like three year olds is highly suspect in my book. In addition to auto racing I attend hockey, baseball, football and basketball games. I may razz the referee or umpire if he or she makes a bad call, or razz a player if they miss a play (without profanity), but throwing a beer bottle straight at them is the last thing I'd do to protest a call or play. You may not like the outcome of a sporting event, but be an adult about it.

    Just my $.02

  11. austex // June 13, 2008 7:55 AM  

    I totally agree mmack, with what you say. still, not sure what that has to do with legitimacy of a GWC. and speaking of GWC, I'm not at all sure that's the best way, but if they could figure out a safe and racey way to end a race, rather than cruisin', I'd be all for it. I also agree that maybe Macro-andretti should maybe sit out any ending laps.