Power of the Wave Around

By Jordan Dodson

In 2009, when NASCAR implemented double file restarts they also implemented the wave around rule. The purpose of the rule was to make sure leaders would start at the front on every restart.

Based on the rule, lap down drivers can choose not to pit under a yellow flag while the leaders pit, to gain a lap back. At times this can lead to several cars taking a wave around, under a yellow flag, after getting caught a lap down with an untimely caution.

For instance, over 20 cars took the wave around under one caution at Dover on Sunday. That is a lot of cars to be “given” a lap back.

Does the rule need to be changed?

The wave around rule makes it very easy for drivers to gain a lap back based on a caution that is out of their control. Drivers, too often, are given their lap back making it no longer necessary for them to earn it, although they have a chance to do so. It seems that too many teams just wait for a caution to fall their way, rather than fight for their lap, because it is easier to wait on a caution.

NASCAR has 43 of the best drivers in the world – so shouldn’t they have to race to stay on the lead lap and position themselves for the lucky dog?

Personally, I think it is time to do away with the wave around rule, to allow for more exciting racing all around the track, as driver’s fight for the lucky dog or to stay on the lead lap, making it necessary for drivers to race harder to make up their lap. More importantly, without the wave around, it would require more imput from the drivers, putting their fate back in their individual control. Fans want to see racing, even if that means for 25th position to stay on the lead lap or to be the lucky dog.

NASCAR should modify or do away with the wave around rule and just let the drivers race. But, there still needs to be a rule in place making the leaders start at the front on restarts. NASCAR needs to put the driver’s destiny back into their hands so they are racing for their position. I hear more and more fans comment on the rule and the role it plays in minimizing actual racing.

What change could NASCAR make to the wave around rule? That is the dilemma. What could NASCAR do to the cars that stay out to make up a lap?

One possible solution would be to give a lap back to the top three cars a lap down when a yellow flag is thrown. The rest of the field would then be frozen and unable to gain a lap back. This would eliminate the wave around but still allow multiple cars to get a lap back.

What are your thoughts on the wave around? Like it or Hate it?

Continue the conversation by commenting below or follow @NASCARInformer on Twitter.

We’ll be talking about these questions on Fan2Fan NASCAR Talk on Monday, October 1, 2012 on The Sports Chronicles Radio Network. Join the discussion at 7pm CDT/8pm ET.


5 thoughts on “Power of the Wave Around

  1. Eliminate it altogether. The reason the sport is in decline is because NASCAR chose to make it “show” instead of a race. Real race fans have bailed because EVERYTHING has become so contrived. The Chase, Common template cars, top 35 rule & the wave around rule are ALL bogus. Bring back the real rcing & the fans just might return.

  2. I don’t know if I’m totally on your side here… The wave around rule was designed because of restarts in the past where drivers were lined up in front of the leaders on restarts. They would then try to stay in front of the leader and get their lap back on a lucky caution, just the way it is now. Sometimes 12 cars would do it, and the first 5 or so would get away and stay on the lead lap even if another caution never came out. While this rule change happened at the same time as the double-file restart rule, it is not a direct product of it. This rule was put in place to the leader was always up front, as there have been several past incidents when the leader was taken out because he was in a pack of cars trying to stay on the lead lap on a restart. The best examples I can think of are Jeremy Mayfield (and many other eaders) getting taken out at Dover in 2004, and Kasey Kahne getting wrecked by Tony Stewart at Chicagoland also in 2004.
    The Kasey wreck: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWDEhNW82rw
    The Mayfield wreck: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApDRx0T1a_g

  3. No dilemma you start wherever your car ends up whether it is a lap down or in front of the leaders. No lucky dog or wave around. If the leader is so afraid to start behind a car on the tail end of the lead lap then don’t pit. The race is 400 miles and your job is to complete 400 miles faster than everyone else and it is unfair to give up 1 mile because of someone not pitting. The sport is racing not gifting.

  4. I’m for puting things back like they were. Race to the yellow flag and make the lap down car earn it. Do away with the double file restarts and put the lap down cars back on the inside.

    NASCAR racing has become so sterile that I rarely watch anymore.

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