(AP Photo/Gil Talbot)
Tony Stewart knows a good thing when he sees it. So did most of the people watching the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 Sprint Cup race Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
If you don't know what we're talking about, you weren't paying attention. The new restart rule transformed what could have been three hours of exhausting cautions into real racing action every time the green flag flew.
"I'm a big, big fan of this double-file restart stuff," Stewart said after his fifth-place finish. "It's so much fun restarting with the guys that you're racing with and are used to running up front with, and not having to deal with some of these other guys [lap-down cars] on the restarts."
Fans often complain about not seeing enough side-by-side racing, but the restarts with lead-lap cars double file brought plenty of close racing Sunday, including several incidents of three-wide competition up front.
It was the best show yet on an oval for the new rule. And if you think that was exciting, wait until Saturday night at Daytona, the first restrictor-plate race with leaders double-file up front on restarts.
Those will be some Fourth of July fireworks you won't want to miss. But things can get a little too explosive at times for the drivers.
Stewart's opinion is not universally shared, especially by some of the drivers who were part of a Talladega-like "big one" on one restart at Loudon.
One of those was David Ragan.
"They were wrecking in front of us, and I was trying not to run into the guy in front of me," Ragan said. "Everyone said the double-file restarts would cause some action, and when people don't give-and-take, that's what happens."
But Sunday's accident could have happened just as easily under the old restart rule with lapped cars on the inside line. Dale Earnhardt Jr. spun his tires, and everyone behind him had to check up.
Drivers get anxious on restarts because it's a better chance to make a move than any other point of the race.
"You can't pass with these cars," Greg Biffle said. "It's really tough and it's been like that forever. You've just got to be in the right position."
"Whoever gets out front [during long runs] seems to have a huge advantage," said Jeff Gordon, who finished second Sunday.
Double-file restarts for the lead-lap cars help solve both problems. They take away the leader's advantage and give an increased chance to gain positions.
As we've seen, the rule isn't always so exciting at tracks like Pocono and Michigan. But it was a thrill at New Hampshire, and it's bound to be a game changer at Daytona.
Nationwide Series: Gibbs, Roush the teams to beat
Two things are clear this season in the Nationwide Series:
• The Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas and the Roush Fenway Racing Fords are the best cars in the series.
Once again, JGR teammates Busch and Joey Logano battled for the victory down the stretch at New Hampshire. Busch came out on top this time for his fifth victory of the season.
Logano has two wins in 13 starts, giving the JGR duo seven victories in 16 races this year. Busch has 13 top-10s, and Logano has 10.
But Jack Roush's entries aren't far behind, claiming five victories this season spread among four drivers. So 75 percent of the races have been won by two teams, which are two of the most successful operations in Cup.
Busch and Edwards, the only two Cup drivers on those teams who are running the entire Nationwide schedule, will battle it out to become the fourth consecutive Cup driver to win the Nationwide title. Busch has the upper hand, leading Edwards by 162 points.
Camping World Truck Series: Four titles for Hornaday?
Ron Hornaday Jr. became the first three-time winner this season in the Camping World Truck Series with his victory Saturday at Memphis, but Hornaday has bigger goals for 2009.
He could become the first driver to win four series championships. Hornaday and Jack Sprague each have three Truck titles.
Hornaday leads the standings this season by 76 points over Matt Crafton, the only driver in the top four who's younger than 45.
Travis Kvapil in 2003 was the last Truck champion younger than 40. He was only 27 when he won the crown. Hornaday, who turned 51 on June 20, could become the first series champ older than 50. He won his third title in 2007 at age 49.
Ted Musgrave is the oldest champion of a major NASCAR series, winning the 2005 Truck title one month before his 50th birthday.
Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. His book, "The Blount Report: NASCAR's Most Overrated and Underrated Drivers, Cars, Teams, and Tracks," was published by Triumph Books and is available in bookstores. Click here to order a copy. Blount can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Racing Resources SaysSprint Cup Series
- Joey Logano won the rain-shortened Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. At 19 years, one month and four days, Logano became the youngest driver to win a Cup race in NASCAR history.
- Logano became the 11th race winner in 17 races in 2009. He became the ninth different race winner in the past nine races at New Hampshire.
- Logano became the third first-time winner in 2009, joining Brad Keselowski (Talladega) and David Reutimann (Lowe's). Reutimann won his career-first race in a rain shortened race at Lowe's. Logano is the second driver to score his first win in a rain-shortened race at New Hampshire, joining Ryan Newman in 2002.
- Logano scored his first Cup victory in his 20th start. He posted his first victory at New Hampshire in his second start. He led once for the final 10 laps.
- Joe Gibbs Racing scored its 72nd series victory, its fourth at New Hampshire and fourth in 2009. Logano is the sixth driver to win for Joe Gibbs Racing and third to score his first career win with Gibbs, joining Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart.
- This is the first win by Toyota at New Hampshire. Toyota scored its fifth win in 2009. Chevrolet has eight, and Dodge and Ford each have two.
- Jeff Gordon (second) has scored top-10 finishes in the past four races, a streak that began at Pocono.
- Kurt Busch (third) posted his third straight top-10 finish at New Hampshire. He remained fourth in the point standings.
- Tony Stewart (fifth) has scored top-10 finishes in the past five races, a streak that began at Dover.
- Jimmie Johnson (ninth) has led at least one lap in 14 of the 17 races in 2009. He led 93 laps in Sunday's race, the most by any driver. Johnson (887) passed Kyle Busch (808 ) for the most laps led this season.
- Juan Pablo Montoya (12th) remained 12th in the standings by one point over 13th-place Kasey Kahne.
- Carl Edwards (19th) ended a five-race streak of top-15 finishes that began at Lowe's.
- Clint Bowyer (20th) ended a five-race streak of top-15 finishes that began at Dover.
- The top 10 consisted of three Toyotas, four Chevrolets and three Dodges.
- Kyle Busch won the Camping World RV Sales 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Busch became the youngest race winner at New Hampshire at 24 years, one month and 25 days. He also became the 23rd different race winner in 23 series races at New Hampshire.
- Busch has finished first or second in eight of the 16 races this season.
- Busch won from a ninth-place starting position. He scored his series-leading fifth victory in 16 starts this season. He scored his 26th series victory in his 154th race.
- Busch posted his first victory at New Hampshire in his fourth race. His last win came at Nashville, three races ago.
- It was Joe Gibbs Racing's 35th Nationwide victory and seventh in 2009.
- Busch led twice for 37 laps, including the final 36. Busch ended an eight-race streak of leading the most laps that began at Talladega in April. He has led 1,523 laps this season, the most by any driver.
- Busch leads the Nationwide standings by 162 points over Edwards, who finished sixth.
- This marked the fifth 1-2 finish for JGR and the first Busch has won.
- Joey Logano (second) posted his 24th career top-10 finish in 32 series starts (75 percent).
- Brad Keselowski (third) extended a streak of 13 consecutive top-15 finishes that began at Bristol.
- Kevin Harvick (fifth) has scored eight straight top-10 finishes at New Hampshire.
- Erik Darnell (ninth) was the highest-finishing rookie of the year contender. He scored his fourth straight top-15 finish.
- Jason Leffler (10th) has finished in the top 10 in the past 11 series races, a streak that began at Nashville in April.
- The three cautions tied the record at New Hampshire. The average speed of 111.912 mph set a track record. The 15 caution laps were the fewest in a race at New Hampshire.
- The top 10 consisted of three Chevrolets, three Fords and four Toyotas.
- With temperatures near 100 degrees, Ron Hornaday Jr. won the MemphisTravel.com 200 at Memphis Motorsports Park . Hornaday scored his 42nd series victory in his 236th start. He scored his third win at Memphis in his seventh start there, most of all drivers.
- Hornaday posted his series-leading third win of 2009. His previous win came the week before at Milwaukee. The last time he scored back-to-back victories was at Gateway and New Hampshire in 2008. It was Hornaday's series-leading 19th short-track win.
- Hornaday led 175 of the 201 laps, the most of all drivers. It is the 20th time Hornaday has led more than 80 percent of the laps in a race, winning all but four of them. He led 180 laps last week at Milwaukee and a total of 355 in the past two races. His 175 laps led is the most ever led in a Truck race at Memphis. Hornaday has led at least one lap in 10 of the 11 races in 2009, including the past nine.
- All 12 races at Memphis have been won from a top-10 starting position.
- Brian Scott (second) scored his fourth top-5 and sixth top-10 of 2009.
- Aric Almirola (fourth) scored his best career finish.
- The top 10 consisted of three Chevrolets, six Toyotas and one Ford.