-- NASCAR will reduce the maximum number of green-white-checkered finishes it will employ from three to one for this weekend's races at Talladega Superspeedway.
NASCAR will return to a maximum of three green-white-checkered finishes next week at Martinsville Speedway and re-evaluate the policy for superspeedways prior to the 2016 Daytona 500, which is the next restrictor-plate race after Talladega.
The move is done in the name of safety -- it reduces the number of times NASCAR bunches up the field. Austin Dillon's car got airborne and into the Daytona International Speedway catch fence in July just after cars crossed the finish line in a first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. Dillon was not injured, but five fans required treatment after being hit by debris.
Whether the rule has an impact obviously remains to be seen. Since 2012, eight of the 15 restrictor-plate races have gone into NASCAR's version of overtime but only once in the last 15 races has there been more than one green-white-checkered finish.
"Following extensive dialogue with the industry, we have decided to make a procedural change at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend," NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O'Donnell said in a statement. "In the event the race goes beyond the advertised distance due to a caution, we will use a single attempt at a green-white-checker finish.
"We take very seriously the responsibility of balancing exciting finishes and safety. We're confident that this is a positive direction for both."
The green-white-checkered rule states that if the caution comes out before the leader begins the final lap, the race will be extended beyond the scheduled distance for a two-lap dash to the finish. The same rule is applied again in the "overtime" -- if the caution comes out before the leader begins the second of those two laps, then the race is extended again with a maximum of three tries to finish the race with the leader starting the final lap under green-flag conditions. At Talladega, there will be only one attempt after the cars go beyond the scheduled distance.
"I think the chances when you go to Talladega of bringing a car home are slim," Furniture Row Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. said Tuesday before the rule was announced. "If you have green-white-checkereds there, the chance of not bringing a car home goes up pretty dramatically.
"I think for the owners or everybody involved, I would be OK limiting it to one."