The rule applies regardless of the number of laps a car is behind the leader. Furthermore, a driver may not receive a beneficiary rule lap in certain situations:
- The driver caused the situation bringing out the yellow.
- The driver had been penalized one (or more) laps for rough driving. This rule may be waived if the driver passes the leader and regains his lap back, and then is passed back.
There are two restrictions on the pitting in regards to the beneficiary rule:
- The driver pits with the lap-down cars, unless officials declare a quick yellow, when all cars may pit.
- During that pit stop, it is the only lap that car may take fuel. This rule was implemented October 30, 2004, after Ryan Newman won the first race with the beneficiary rule by stopping for fuel multiple times after gaining the free pass during that caution period, resulting in a win.
In 2006, NASCAR began to use this rule at road course races, despite previous years where it was not used at road course events.
In June 2009, double-file restart rule changes resulted in changes to the Beneficiary Rule:
- The beneficiary would now be implemented during the entire race. Previously, the beneficiary was discontinued when less than ten laps remained in the race.
- After pit stops, once the starter signals one lap before the restart, the pit is closed, and all cars between the safety car and leader will be allowed to advance to the rear of the field. The leader will be the first car on the restart. Cars that were not waved around (such as lead lap cars, but not the beneficiary) will be allowed to pit.
- Such a situation occurs when the leaders pit, but some lapped cars do not pit. This usually occurs when different pit strategies are used between leaders, or when a cycle of pit stops is interrupted by a caution; those cars which have pitted and are lapped will take the wave-around, restarting behind the leaders who pitted, and advancing one lap.
The 2009 NASCAR rule change brings it in line with Grand-Am road racing, while rules where lapped cars between leaders may gain one lap were adopted in Formula One as of 2007. The lapped-car rule in Formula One applies when the "lapped cars may overtake" signal appears on team monitors from race control.
In the IndyCar Series, lapped cars ahead of the leader following pit stops (which may happen if a lapped car does not pit during yellow when the lead lap cars do so) are allowed to move to the tail end of the lead lap on restarts on the one lap to go signal—which automatically closes the pit lane until the restart. This ensures that the leaders take the green flag without interference from lapped traffic. NASCAR follows the same policy with the 2009 change to the Beneficiary Rule, except that pit lane is only closed to those cars that were waved around the safety car to allow the leaders to start at the front.
Read more about this topic: Beneficiary Rule
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