The Frontstretch: Nope, No Cost-Cutting Here by Amy Henderson -- Thursday July 20, 2006

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Nope, No Cost-Cutting Here

Second Fiddle: Around the Busch and Craftsman Truck Series · Amy Henderson · Thursday July 20, 2006


NASCAR has implemented several rule changes over the years in the Busch Series designed to cut costs to teams that have less funding than their Nextel Cup Counterparts. Recently, NASCAR has curbed testing, changed to a tire-leasing program, shortened weekends, and mandated various other cost-cutting measures. The problem is, the teams aren't getting the memo.

Recently, NASCAR announced that the Busch and Craftsman Truck Series would switch over to unleaded fuel for several races this year, basically as a test in preparation for running the fuel in all its top series as early as 2007. True, this is not a cost-cutting measure, but one team owner's comments about the program illustrated the real problem that the independent Busch (and presumably Truck) teams are up against.

The Busch teams go unleaded this month, and team owner Rick Hendrick commented that his team has already spent well over a million dollars in preparation for the change. Over a million dollars on what presumably includes extensive engine tests with all kinds of gadgets. I'm also guessing that if Hendrick Motorsports spent a cool million and more on this, Roush Racing and the other powerhouse Cup-owned Busch teams did the same thing. For them, just a drop in the bucket, but for the few independents left, a sum they simply cannot afford.

Which gives pause: if the big teams are putting that much into one change, how much did they put into other changes before the changes occurred? How much money was spent on testing for mandated gears, for the one-engine rule, for this shock package or that aerodynamic change? Those teams can afford to travel far and wide to tracks without events to test their already more expensive cars on tracks very similar to those they'll race on. The list just goes on.

The bottom line is that until NASCAR actually insists that teams cut costs, they aren't listening. Sure the rules save the teams in the long run, but if millions are being spent by the big teams just to see how they'll be affected, the gap between the Cup-owned behemoths and the independents just gets bigger. Look at the top ten in driver points in the Busch Series to see where the "cost-cutting" is going. There is just one non-Cup-owned team-the tenth-place ppc Racing No. 22 car driven by Kenny Wallace-in the top ten in Busch Series points. This trend is relatively new, beginning within the last eight or nine years or so, and is rather disturbing as the cost gap widens.

Until NASCAR finds a way to cut the cost of cutting costs, the Busch and Truck Series are on a dangerous path. NASCAR-and the fans that ultimately pay the bills-may not like what's at the end.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Beyond the Cockpit: Alexis DeJoria On The 300 mph Women of the NHRA
A Swan’s Broken Wings Equal NASCAR’s Next Concern?
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Pace Laps: Swan Racing’s Future, Fast Females and Dropping Out
Sprint Cup Series Facilities Can Build Upon Fan Experience by Looking to Their Roots


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07/21/2006 10:14 AM

as for cost cutting just keep the cup boys out and that would be easily done by using impound rule such as any cup driver in the top 35 in cup points that is driving in a bush race will have his cup care imponded at the drop of the green flag for the bush race that would mean no practice after the bush race and no working on the car that would keep the high$ cup boys out there for cutting costs

Sean Decker
07/22/2006 08:05 AM

First of all if Hendrick spent over a million dollars on engine technology for unleaded gas then it will be amortized over their entire engine program the same goes for Roush/Yates. Since these engine builders build the motors for many competitors in both Busch and Cup the expense is warranted.

Why do we need to reduce cost? Why do we need to penalize the people in this sport for having better business savvy then ohers? This is America folks. You ever hear of something called free enterprise? Thats all thats happening inthe Busch series. I don’t see people not buying the product here. Until they stop buying there won’t and there doesn’t need to be a change.

What any racing series needs is good competitive racing to fill the stands with fans. If having Cup drivers compete in the Busch series does that, so be it.

Stop whining about the poor Busch teams, the ones with the talent and intiative will find a way to beat their Cup bretheren.

John Comstock
07/23/2006 07:11 PM

This weekend at Martinsville was my first foray into sponsorship of a Busch team. My company, Western Sizzlin, partnered with Mac-Hill motorsports to sponsor the #56 Chevy driven by Kevin Grubb. Kevin drove a great race, but ultimately finished 33rd due to brake problems. At the midway point in the race, our car was running second behind Paul Menard, and then led the race after Menard had to pit for tires. I was ecstatic that we were performing so well, and the coverage that we were getting on a national broadcast was priceless. I had Tivo’d the race and couldn’t wait to get home to see the car that I had invested so much money in being highlighted on the broadcast as we lead the race. What did I find when I went to the portion of the recording that had the 30 laps we were at the front? Plenty of coverage of what D.W. was doing in 30th place, Denny Hamlin’s struggle for 8th place and all sorts of commentary about the other Cup drivers in the race. Here is a young team without all of the funding of the big guys actually leading a race by almost the entire frontstretch, and all the commentators have to talk about is Carl Edwards hectic schedule trying to get back and forth from Pocono to Martinsville. That is the real problem with the cup guys driving in the Busch series. It’s not only a proving ground for drivers, it’s also a place for sponsors to help grow our sport by supporting the smaller teams, and with the cup guys stealing the spotlight, it’s hard to make it a worthwhile venture.

07/24/2006 02:35 PM

John, Sorry to hear about the lack of coverage that your team received. Sadly this is the way it is though nowadays in the Busch series. Most of the coverage this year in the Busch races has been the Cup teams. While the Roush aurgument has been made about free enterprise and all that it is forgotten that this is was started as a sport although at this point it is a huge business which happens to use a sport as its front. Racing started out as a grassroots sport but those days are far gone with all the top NASCAR series being choked by a few owners. Free enterprise? Sure..Good for the sport? Not a chance. Oddly NASCAR who utters the words “Good for the sport” when anyone dare speak against them doesn’t see this as an issue. I hope Kevin gives you some good runs…

John Comstock
07/24/2006 08:37 PM

Thanks Chris, I sent my comments to Nascar and NBC sports. Maybe they will ruffle somebody’s feathers. Probably not though. I was just rewatching the recording, and it is amazing the coverage that Menard got when he was up front for the few laps that he led. The camera was literally fixed on him lap after lap. Oh well, Kevin ran great and the crowd at Martinsville saw him leading the pack for the 20 he was up front. I guess I’ll have to come up with some more cash to make it on TV.

07/25/2006 12:30 PM

Oh, also John, thanks for supporting a Busch team.


Contact Amy Henderson

Recent articles from Amy Henderson:

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Announces Partnership with Cessna, Textron
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