The Frontstretch: This Is NASCAR, Not a Bazaar by Amy Henderson -- Thursday February 12, 2009

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This Is NASCAR, Not a Bazaar

Holding A Pretty Wheel · Amy Henderson · Thursday February 12, 2009


With Daytona’s convoluted qualifying procedures, it’s easy to overlook things while just trying to figure out how the heck they set the field this year. What is with setting the Duels by owner points and then qualifying speed, anyway? Was it actually necessary? But there is one insidious little thing that has been happening in NASCAR that has become such an elephant in the room that it’s impossible to ignore, even with all of the Daytona hype.

One reason that it’s so hard to figure out who’s locked into the race is that these guys are swapping owner points faster than they swap underwear.

Okay, I hope that’s an exaggeration, but it seems that the point swapping is even more rampant than in years past. The trading got a high-profile boost into the spotlight last year when NASCAR allowed Penske Racing to swap out points between Kurt Busch and rookie Sam Hornish, Jr. The move assured both teams a spot on the Daytona starting grid—Hornish got Busch’s top 35 position, while Busch was assured the past champion’s provisional—both Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson, the only more recent title winners, were already locked in on points.

Since that time, point swaps have multiplied like rabbits, and the end result is a convoluted trading bazaar almost as complicated as an elementary school cafeteria at lunch time. But in this game, the stakes are much, much higher than trading peanut butter for bologna or double stuffed Oreos for a Twinkie. For the teams, it’s a guaranteed quarter-million-dollar payout, and that’s just for Daytona. For full time teams, it’s a guarantee of at least last-place money in each of the first five races, and more importantly, a leg up on the top 35 standing in this year’s points.

NASCAR allowed Penske Racing to swap out points between Kurt Busch and rookie Sam Hornish, Jr. last year which opened the door to the wholesale point trading, buying, and gifting this season.

For NASCAR, it’s fast becoming a matter of integrity.

It’s time for the point swapping to stop. While there is no doubt that NASCAR brought the problem on themselves with what is quite possibly the worst rule to ever wend its way into sanctioned stock-car racing, commonly known as the top 35 rule, the sanctioning body seems to forget that they have the power to put a stop to the point trading, buying, and gifting. And stopping the practice cold is precisely what NASCAR needs to do.

The way this should work is simple: unless a car earned the points, a car can’t use them.

In other words, point swapping should be illegal. Period.

If a driver were to move on from a team mid-season and win the driver’s title, it’s because his points went along with him. Owner points should stay with the car. After all, if the car performed better after the departure of a driver, the team could conceivably win the owner’s championship. There are more men than just the driver pouring their hearts and souls into every finish, and those teams deserve to reap the reward of what they sowed-not some other guys who didn’t put in the time. Points are not to be taken lightly, and they shouldn’t be passed around like candy.

If a team goes out of business, the points should die with them. Points are something that should be earned, not bought. If the top 35 rule is about insuring that the fans see the best teams every week, then NASCAR owes it to the fans not to muddy the waters with teams who essentially buy their way into the first five races. Anyone with money can buy points, but they can’t buy the talent, dedication, and sweat that earned them in the first place. Backroom deals and shady trading have no place in the sport.

The top 35 rule has all but destroyed the integrity of the sport, and what little is left is compromised by allowing teams to use points they did not earn to get into races ahead of teams who didn’t have the money or the negotiating pull to beg, borrow, or steal a bunch of points. If a team without owner points of their own cannot race their way into a race, they don’t deserve to be there—the team with the faster car deserves to be there. At least they earned it.

By instituting a rule that does nothing to improve the sport and in fact alienates many fans, NASCAR made one of the worst decisions in the history of professional sports. It’s worse than the designated hitter, and that’s saying something. But by allowing teams to circumvent the rule, NASCAR is putting their integrity on the line even more. It’s a sport, not a yard sale. Points swapping should be banned-simple as that.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


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James Dedmon
02/13/2009 05:55 AM

Correct, NASCAR needs to scrap this insane rule. I am not againist the provisional system, but to have 35 postions each week is not right. It would be better to use the top 35 postions on speed, or qualifing races in Daytona’s case, and the rest of the field by provisonals. That would be 6 places for the teams in the points that need them and one for the past champion. Of course there needs to be a limit on the number of provisionals used per season also.

02/13/2009 07:01 AM

It absolutely befuddles me how an entity that strived so hard to be recognized as a “sport” with real “athletes” has managed to make them selves look rather ridiculous as of late. Points swapping, rule modification/interpretation/creation (sometime mid race), and complete inconsistency, to mention a few, are the very things that are making NA$CAR look like a joke.

I really thought a couple years back they were on the verge of becoming one of Americas top sporting events – you know, up there with that football thing. Well idea is now just a fleeting fancy. And that race fans (in my humble opinion of course) is due solely to the King himself and his ability to focus on just one thing…..$$$$$$. Congratulation Mr. France, you are rich but you are far from famous. Unless that if you want to be famous for totally killing a once great sport. Keep it up, you don’t have far to go.

02/13/2009 07:03 AM

Great article. This comment sums it up: “For NASCAR, it’s fast becoming a matter of integrity.” To someone new to the sport, points swapping could look alot like the WWE. Maybe Smoke was right!

02/13/2009 07:45 AM

To use the word “integrity” in the same sentence with nascrap is just not right! baby brian is a personal loser and will kill nascrap before he is done. It is already just a very small step away from IROC now!!

02/13/2009 08:33 AM

NA$CRAP & “INTERGITY”, don’t make me laugh!

King Brian has no idea what the word or term “integrity” means.

To him, 36 weekends mean only one thing! $$$$ in his pocket and bank account. The fans can go to hell as far as King Brian is concerned.

And talk about the guaranteed 35 positions, actually 36 counting the PCP, looking at the results of the “twin 150’s”, Newman, Said, Jr. (and more) had GOODYEAR TIRES FAIL, thus influencing their finishing position in the twins.

How fair is that King Brian? Hell, you cannot even run a twin race trying to make it into the few “open” positions without a major tire failure. Can you imagine how Boris Said feels that all the money spent getting to Daytona, is wasted by a tire failure?

And the 500 field is set by how? Lets see, if the xx & yy cars “race” into the field, then the aa cars gets in on time. However if the xx & yy cars don’t race their way into the field, then the aa car does not make the field but the bb car does!

And that is just one scenario of how you “qualify” for the “Great American Race”.

But of course tire issues notwithstanding, if your a top 35 car, (from last years points yet), you don’t even have to finish a twin race to get in!

Well, you get the idea.

INTEGRITY? Glad you asked!


Yep, you have that right: “Daytona’s convoluted qualifying procedures”.

If your at the track in person, it is IMPOSSIBLE at any moment to know who is in and who is out!

What a mess!

And no, NA$CRAP is not a “BAZAAR”, it is “BIZARRE”! At best!

02/13/2009 10:03 AM

Don’t forget who we’re talking about here. This is NA$CAR, world capital of racing greed. (On second thought that would be F1, but Brian is studying Bernie, & he’s moving up.)
Where anything, & everything is fore sale.
Step right up, make your bid. Fair play, a level playing field, help for the little guys. Who cares, they’re little guys. How much $$ car be squeezed out of little guys? A couple of weeks ago Brian was touting the # of desperation teams being thrown together. As a sign of NA$CAR’s health. Then he turns around & shoots them in the foot. Whotta guy.

02/13/2009 10:57 AM

Here’s a (maybe crazy) idea I’ve always had. Allow for 1, 2, maybe 3 “sponsor exemptions.” Golf does something like this. Allow for the last three slots in every starting grid (or maybe just the first X races) to be filled at NASCAR’s discretion.

As it is right now- EVERYTHING seems gamed.

This way, a guy like Boris Said- worthy of starting the 500, but without the money or experience to guarantee it- could be allowed in. Stewart and Newman on their upstart teams- allow them some cushion to always get in the race.

And then beyond that- the rules are tight and unmovable.

02/13/2009 02:09 PM


I mentioned tire problems again at Daytona, (sound familiar?) GEE, WHAT? GOODYEAR TIRE PROBLEMS?

Well sports fans, seems GOODYEAR is now admitting they had some tires get through their “inspection” process that were indeed
DEFECTIVE! They admitted this morning that they, GOODYEAR, had the bar codes of these tires and subsequently went team by team, mind you, DURING A RACE, AND CONFISCATED SAID defective tires AND THINK THIS WILL SOLVE THE TIRE PROBLEM!


Any IDIOT, any COMPLETE IDIOT, knows what GOODYEAR SUPPLIED LAST YEAR, does INDY ring a bell?, and after a few month’s off, they GOODYEAR, show up at DAYTONA, in 2009, with KNOWN DEFECTIVE TIRES!


And anyone that spends money following this very sick and ignorant organization, the one called NA$CRAP! has more money than sense!

And by the way, doesn’t this legitimatize the term NA$CRAP?

And just where is the JR. NATION when you need them? How many times last year, and again already this year, does Jr. have a tire “go down”, costing him dearly on the race track? Why aren’t all the Jr. supporters up in arms?

02/13/2009 02:16 PM

Hey Chris! Are you for real? “to be filled at NASCAR’s discretion.”

I read and re-read this statement, still cannot believe ANYONE would put such a thing in the hands of NA$CRAP!

Do you think for a minute, that ANYONE in NA$CRAP would help a “low budget team” get into a race? Let alone the 500!

King Brian would put these openings up for the highest bidder! Naturally, at “his” discretion! Read that $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$!

02/14/2009 04:33 PM

I agree with scrapping the “top 35” rule. It should be a combo deal. If a driver moves from a team, both he (she) and the car should lose all “brownie points”. This doesn’t mean that they can/will not get an exemption for a certain race if needed. It gets it back to racing to get in, and not shut out the guys trying to make it in on a shoestring (read less than 6 million dollar budget).
I disagree with you on the driver change/ champion to the car in the middle of the year logic though. Car numbers do have championships, but the driver (which is what I most care about) is the one that wins the championship. If the owners raced “one” car then maybe we could discuss it further. But as it is that “car” are actually 10 or more cars with the same number as it is.
Again, good article. And I appreciate you, as a respected journalist covering NASCAR, puts the pressure on those “can’t see the trees because of the forest” guys in their ivory towers at NASCAR to get back to racing.
P.S. What’s with Mike Massarro? Did you see him today at the end of the Busch (oops Nationwide) broadcast? What is he trying out for a job at the fashion model awards or what? Dude, dress like normal people at a stock car race not some red carpet runway reporter for the E! Network.


Contact Amy Henderson

Recent articles from Amy Henderson:

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