LONG POND, Pa. - Jeff Burton has been racing in NASCAR long enough that not much surprises him.
Asked yesterday for his reaction to NASCAR's instituting double-file restarts, beginning with tomorrow's Pocono 500, Burton smiled and said: "I'm shocked that we're doing this this year. It's the shipliner analogy, about how hard it is to turn a ship real quick.
"I told someone at Charlotte [2 weeks ago] that there was no way ever that we would do double-file restarts in 2009. [NASCAR] doesn't make big procedural changes like this in the middle of the year."
With the new system, the leader will have the option of restarting on the inside or outside lane. The second-place driver will start next to the leader. Previously, the racers on the lead lap restarted single file in one lane, while lapped cars restarted in another line.
"For the fans, double-file restarts are great," Burton, 41, said. "For us, it's going to increase the workload quite a bit. As hectic as restarts are now, [double-file] is going to increase that twofold, because the people you're going to be racing are fast.
"Restarts are going to be really, really aggressive. It's going to change strategy [and] track position is going to be more important."
Switching to double-file restarts is aimed at making the Sprint Cup series racing more exciting for fans.
"It's something that I think will make the racing better from an excitement standpoint, and that's what we're here for," said Ryan Newman, who is fifth in the standings. "If the fans say they want us to start the third restart in reverse and switch around 2 laps later and run forward, we're probably going to do it."
Burton, 10th in points, expects more rules changes.
"I think NASCAR is looking real hard at the entire sport [thinking] how can we make it better," he said. "There are so many options for people today to be entertained. With the economy bad, people do less of everything.
"I don't think you'll see something this big for a while, but I think you'll see a lot of little things that impact the way the cars drive.
"I will tell you, though, that the last 7 weeks of racing have been pretty good. I don't know that there's a major need [for changes] if it's going to be the way it's been the last 7 weeks."
When Hendrick Motorsports installed Lance McGrew as Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s interim crew chief last weekend at Dover, Del., Kyle Busch said in a news conference, "It's never [Earnhardt]; it's always the crew chief."
Asked yesterday whether there's a rivalry between him and Earnhardt, Busch replied, "I've got no issues with Dale Jr. It wasn't him that kicked me out of Hendrick Motorsports; it was Casey Mears."
Despite an 0-for-44 record in Pocono starts, Mark Martin says the 2.5-mile mountain trioval is one of his favorite racetracks.
"I love racing here," Martin said yesterday. "I've always run good here [six runner-up finishes]. It takes a different mind-set and different skills. I don't have [any] wins, but my average finish is probably better here than almost anywhere."
With yesterday's qualifying rained out, tomorrow's Pocono 500 field will start according to the standings, meaning Tony Stewart will have the pole. Qualifying for today's ARCA race also was rained out. Tom Hessert III, from Cherry Hill, and Cup rookie Joey Logano are in the ARCA race . . . For the second consecutive year, the August Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway will be the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500. *