Wednesday, September 20, 2023

NASCAR to Throw Stage Cautions; Change Restart Zone for Playoff Races at Charlotte ROVAL

NASCAR will revert back to throwing full-course cautions at the end of stages, effective for the NASCAR Cup Series post-season event at Charlotte’s ROVAL. Additionally, changes have been made to the restart zone, to allow cars to get more spread out. Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton, Getty Images

On Tuesday, Elton Sawyer, Senior Vice President of Competition for NASCAR, announced a pair of procedural changes for the upcoming NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series events at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL in October.

NASCAR will revert to throwing full-course cautions at the end of the race’s first two stages, going back on a rule announced in January, that allowed strategy to play out naturally by not throwing the yellow flag at the end of stages, but still paying points.

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Speaking on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Tuesday, Sawyer explained NASCAR’s thought process behind the seemingly-unpopular move, saying that series officials are wanting to ensure that the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs are officiated in the same way.

“We want to make sure that throughout the playoffs, in the 10-race Cup Series Playoffs, we wanted to make sure that we were officiating across the board the same way,” said Sawyer. “Now we will be, all of our races will have caution stage breaks, including the ROVAL here in a few weeks.”

The change comes after back-to-back road course events for the NASCAR Cup Series – at Indy and Watkins Glen – that each only featured a single full-course caution and subsequent restart.

“If you look back at our five previous road course races, although they were competitive, there were some that felt like there were some things we could do differently, obviously going back to the caution stage breaks, that would potentially make our races better,” continued Sawyer. “So we had the option to pull that lever, working closely with our broadcast partners, and Speedway Motorsports in Charlotte, and our industry stakeholders, and felt like the timing was right to do that as we head into the playoffs.”

Additionally, NASCAR has chosen to make alterations to the restart zone, where drivers will now launch in the final chicane, rather than on the oval portion of Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“One thing we looked at, as far as the road courses, we had a situation at Indy a couple of years ago, where late-race restarts really put our guys in a bad spot there, with five or six-wide – which is great racing,” explained Sawyer. “But it also becomes a bad spot for them and can tear up a lot of vehicles, and end up with multiple overtime restarts.”

Sawyer further explained that the competitors were receptive to the change, which led the sanctioning body to do the same thing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Road Course earlier this year, which he says provided positive results.


“We changed that at Indy this year, the competitors really liked that, felt like it gave us some great racing, as well as Chicago, and as you look at the ROVAL we’ll do the same thing,” Sawyer continued. “The restart zone relocation will be as you exit the frontstretch chicane, so it will give us some separation in the first two or three rows as they head off into Turn 1.”

The NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series will compete at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL on October 7th and 8th, with these updated rules and procedures, as both make runs towards the championship finale at Phoenix.

Joseph Srigley
Joseph Srigley
University of Windsor | Business Administration - Supply Chain & Data Analytics Editor at

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