The Green-White-Checkered finish has been in place throughout the Sprint Cup Series since July 2004. Some fans and drivers have been vocal critics of the addition, lamenting it as devaluing NASCAR’s highest form of competition by instituting a gimmicky do-over procedure so that something exciting happens with hopes of making SportsCenter on ESPN, which will air it on a constant loop for 12 hours.
There are two drivers however who virtually owe their careers to the GWC: Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick.
Harvick won the 2007 Daytona 500 on both capricious enforcement of pausing the race when cars are upside-down and on fire blocking the track, as well as a GWC. That win would be his last for over three years, until the spring Talladega race of 2010, when he was able to squeak by Jamie McMurray by .011 seconds on a GWC restart. Harvick would go on to win the July event at Daytona by .092 seconds over then-teammate Clint Bowyer courtesy of a GWC restart after the advertised distance of 164 laps had been completed.
A dominant win at Michigan in Aug. 2010 erased any doubts and memories of the past few years outside of some last-lap restrictor-plate heroics. Had he not, however – and had the GWC not been in existence, Harvick would have just snapped a winless streak that was going on nearly four seasons.
Ryan Newman is an even more striking example of how the GWC rule has helped his win total – and returned the biggest win of his racing resume. In 2008, it was his Penske teammate Kurt Busch who bump drafted him around the 2.5-mile tri-oval on the final lap past leader Tony Stewart to secure his first Daytona 500 victory. The win was Newman’s first since the fall race at Loudon in 2005, when on the final lap, he bumped future boss Stewart out of the lead coming to the white flag and held on to win by .292 seconds. Nothing dirty mind you – just good, hard, flat-track racing.
Newman would go without another triumph for the remainder of the 2008 season and went winless again after moving to the newly formed Stewart-Haas Racing team in 2009. In 2010 at the spring race in Phoenix, Newman ended up starting on the inside of the front row when leader Jeff Gordon picked the outside lane for the restart, and led the final two laps for the win.
Had it not been for the GWC, Newman would have continued his futility streak that had stood at 77 races out to 124. At Loudon in 2011, Newman lead 119 laps, holding off Stewart (again) by .770 seconds. At Martinsville three weeks ago, Newman won courtesy of the first three cars plowing into each other on a GWC restart. So if you think about it, if not for the advent of the GWC finale and barely one second, Newman could be in the midst of an eight-year streak of failing to finish first, dating back to 2004.
So what do all of these figures and statistics prove and just what theorem am I attempting to support? Uh, I’m not sure. I guess it just means that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will probably win here in the next few weeks and break his much publicized drought that is going on almost four years, dating back to the LifeLock 400 at Michigan in 2008.
Well, actually it was the LifeLock 406; that ended up being a GWC finish as well.
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