NASCAR, IMSA and AMA Pro announce Fanschoice.TV
posted by Mike Neff
Wednesday March 12, 2014
Free live streaming of events will allow fans to view previously unavailable live events online
AMA Pro, NASCAR and IMSA announced the launch of Fanschoice.tv today. The free service will stream motorcycle races, sports car races and regional touring and local short track events. The first event will be the AMA Pro flat track 200 from the 1/4 mile dirt track at Daytona International Speedway.
Fans will have access to multiple camera angles, live timing and scoring and a feed from the track’s PA system. In addition to the touring events from IMSA, AMA and NASCAR, three NASCAR Home Tracks have already signed on to be part of the release. Langley Speedway in Hampton, VA., Lake County Speedway in Painesville, OH., and Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, WA. will have all of their races available for viewing on the new service.
NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series, Whelen Modified Tour and Whelen Southern Modified Tour will all be shown on Fanschoice.tv. The awards banquets for both the Whelen All-American Series and the Touring Series will also be streamed.
IMSA coverage will include streaming of its developmental and single-make series, as well as selected practice and qualifying sessions for the two IMSA national sports car series, TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge that are part of the recently-announced five-year agreement with Fox Sports.
NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Bryan Davis Keith · Monday November 24, 2008
Another season of Nationwide Series racing has officially come and gone. And with it, another Cup regular has stolen a minor league championship. The 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series campaign was more of the same, with Cup star Clint Bowyer swooping in to claim the title — the third straight driver to do so while running both of NASCAR’s top two divisions full-time. Week in and week out, Cup regulars dominated the Top 10 on Saturdays before they strapped into the driver’s seat the following day.
That’s not to say that Nationwide Series regulars and development drivers didn’t have some things to cheer about in 2008. Marcos Ambrose, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Scott Wimmer all scored wins on the tour this season, with Keselowski remaining a factor in the championship Chase through September. The underdogs made noise as well, with notable accomplishments that included Kenny Wallace’s third place run at Memphis and Bryan Clauson’s sixth place finish in his series debut at Daytona. More importantly, the series’ regular drivers finally seemed to push back against their better-funded Cup counterparts, whether it was Brad Keselowski’s crew going after a whiny Denny Hamlin on pit road at Charlotte or David Stremme trading barbs with Clint Bowyer at Kentucky.
That said, though, despite some very exciting action on and off-track in 2008 the future of the Nationwide Series has never been as cloudy as it is this offseason. With no identity, a dwindling number of regular teams, and a seemingly non-consequential title chase thanks to the introduction of full-time Cup contenders, there seems to be only one thing for certain in NASCAR’s AAA series: change is needed.
Over the course of 2008, be it in my weekly columns for Frontstretch or my reporting ventures from the race track, I have focused on the Nationwide Series. Despite its many flaws, I continue to find the division truly fascinating, a combination of national superstars battling with the ranks of driver development and local racers. I have no doubt that the Nationwide Series can go beyond being a Saturday appetizer for a Sprint Cup race; and I have a plan to turn it into the truly unique racing series that it can and should be.
Changing the Race Cars
The consensus of the fans has been pretty much unanimous with regard to the Cup Series’ CoT: it sucks. Yet, NASCAR seems to see the same idea of a COT program as the right way for the Nationwide Series to go.
The first step in making the Nationwide Series a more independent and unique racing series is to ensure that the cars raced on the circuit are just that, unique. And there would be nothing more unique to big-time stock car racing today than…true stock cars!
That’s right. The Nationwide Series should immediately mandate to all of its teams that their cars must begin with a stock car that could be purchased by Johnny race fan at his local dealership. What race fan wouldn’t want to see true Dodge Chargers, Ford Mustangs, and Chevy Camaros tearing up NASCAR’s premier venues?
The move back to a truly stock car would do two big things for the Nationwide Series. First, it would differentiate the Nationwide racing product considerably from that of its Cup series counterpart in a visible way on the race track, going a long way to establishing an identity for the series. Second, it would go a long way in negating what Cup regulars could learn for Sunday by invading the minor leagues on Saturday.
Changes to the equipment in the Nationwide ranks could go further in ensuring that there would be nothing for drivers to learn by moonlighting in the Nationwide Series. I would advocate that the series return to bias-ply tires, instead of the current radials that are also employed by the Cup Series. Taking away the ability to learn about the tires on Saturday deals a huge blow to those who insist on using Nationwide races as a test session. Further, in an effort to curb costs, I would aim lower in establishing engine limits. I am far from car savvy, so it’s hard for me to quantify what I’d shoot for — though a fellow Frontstretch writer suggested that the series should shoot for the equivalent of a 2.0 L engine in a compact car.
Put very simply, let’s scrap the CoT program for the Nationwide ranks in favor of stock cars. How can you argue with that?
Changing the Schedule
In attempting to carve a niche for itself, the Nationwide Series’ schedule should be one that attempts not to mimic the Cup slate, but one that tackles a unique cross section of venues that is both fan-friendly and conducive to compelling races.
In a nutshell, that means more short tracks.
I’m not saying turn the Nationwide Series into a bigger-scale USAR Pro Cup tour. But let’s face it, Nationwide racing at venues such as Fontana and Michigan have become little more than Joe Gibbs Racing demonstrations these days. Plus, despite the lack of quality racing that many of NASCAR’s state of the art intermediate facilities have produced, the Sprint Cup series has demonstrated a commitment to racing on longer ovals, granting second dates to Fontana and Texas as well as apparently preparing to give a second date to the Kansas Speedway. For the Nationwide Series to find its niche, it needs to go where the Cup series is not — and that is the bullrings.
Such a move would allow big time NASCAR to return to its roots and to its original fan base. Seeing NASCAR to return to venues such as I-70 Speedway, Myrtle Beach, Hickory, and South Boston would not only constitute a true return to the sport’s roots — much as they promised emptily that we would see this past season — it would all but guarantee a more compelling product on the race track. Sans the debacle that was the Fall weekend at Richmond (a tired Sunday night race that no one wanted to run that night), every short track race on the Nationwide circuit this season was entertaining. Heck, the race at IRP was one of the top handful of races all year, even with Kyle Busch leading all but three laps.
The possibility of venues for the Series to tackle is endless, and merits its own column. But for the purposes of this piece, having tackled the issue of getting more short tracks on the circuit, it’s time to move on to what can be done in constructing the schedule to make it more conducive to the race teams and even to the fans.
First of all, as much as some people will hate me for saying it, the number of trips out West has to come down. The races out West are among the sparsest in attendance and the most expensive to contest, yet the purses for the events are largely unremarkable. For the West Coast dates that remain on the slate, they need to be scheduled around off weeks so as to allow teams that don’t have a fleet of haulers to get back to their race shops, recover, and prepare for the next race. It’s more than possible to be a national touring series without forcing teams to travel cross country week to week.
Further, stealing a page out of USAC’s book, I would encourage the Nationwide Series to host a couple of Thursday night races during the summer months. Say it with me: live Thursday Night Thunder, NASCAR style. There would be next to nothing for the Series to compete for ratings with, and if scheduled on the Thursday prior to a bigger Cup event, both series will benefit from having race fans completely honed in on specific events.
If the Nationwide Series is ever going to become its own entity, it needs to go where Cup racing is not. These changes to the schedule would go a long way towards establishing that…
Changing the Sanctioning
Absent in my plan to this point is tackling perhaps the two most hot button topics to hit the Nationwide garage in 2008…the epidemic of start-and-park teams and the participation of Cup drivers.
With regard to the start-and-parkers, though I have heard a lot of merit in the arguments made by some that the Nationwide Series field needs to be trimmed, I am hesitant to advocate cutting the field from 43 cars to 36, 38, or any other number. Rather, I would suggest that the sanctioning body be capable of penalizing start-and-parkers where they hurt the most: the purse. In my eye, I would give race officials the ability to reduce or even not pay any purse money to a team that, in their eye, has start-and-parked.
In each of the last three Nationwide Series events I have attended, I have made a point at the start of the race to listen into the radios of a start-and-park team. And believe me, it’s not hard to figure out who is and isn’t doing it. When a team tells its driver on a restart to let the field get a straightaway ahead of him before accelerating, they’re start-and-parking. When a team less than 10 laps into a race is delegating who is going to push the pit box back to the garage, they’re start-and-parking. Why do I mention this? Because I want to make the point that it is easy to figure out which teams are not planning to actually compete in a race they qualify for. In short, giving officials the ability to revoke purse money from teams not actually contesting a race is not something overly subjective or difficult. It’s clear who is and isn’t guilty.
Now, I know some people by now are throwing their hands up in the air, exclaiming that this is too much power to give race officials over paying out money to competitors. To ensure that such power doesn’t get abused, I would include a caveat in the rules that states any purse money that is not paid to a team found not to be contesting a race stays in the overall race purse, and is instead evenly distributed into the shares that the other teams in the event receive.
Is this going to instantly make the Nationwide Series field more competitive? No. There are a lot of teams out there that if they chose to run the distance would finish many laps down and way off the pace. But removing the ability of a team like MSRP Motorsports to make a mockery of a NASCAR series by qualifying, running a handful of laps all season, and collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in money that could and should be going to race teams that care to actually take part in stock car racing both keeps more money in the sport itself and returns some needed legitimacy to the series.
Now, let’s tackle the Cup drivers. First, no Cup driver should be allowed to run for the Nationwide Series title. Period. Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, and Clint Bowyer have accomplished nothing more in the last three seasons of Nationwide competition than to completely erode any sense of significance the series’ title had.
I would take that ban a step further, declaring that no Cup driver should be allowed to run more than five Nationwide Series races in a season. In addition, should a Cup driver choose to run a Nationwide race, they would have to declare at the start of the season which races they would run. Knowing which Cup regulars would be attempting races and where would not only allow for tracks to capitalize on the marketing power of these drivers (the only reason that Cup teams and drivers continually cite as the necessity for invading the minor leagues), but also would serve as notice to the smaller, lower-budget teams out there as to where their best chances are to make races on the circuit. Finally, in the few events that Cup drivers chose to race at the Nationwide level, they would receive no points or purse money. Because it’s just about the love of racing, right?
I would also rid the Nationwide Series of the Top 30 rule with regards to qualifying. Instead, I would look to the ARCA RE/MAX Series for how to handle qualifying for Nationwide races. With a 43-car field, have the Top 38 qualifiers on speed lock into the race. From there, I would employ the ARCA “Golden A” plan into the Nationwide Series. In ARCA, after the top qualifiers on speed lock into the event, the remaining spots in the field are filled by teams highest in the points that have attempted every series race with the same driver. Why not base it on owner points? Because by making qualifying more friendly to regular teams and drivers, more drivers and teams are likely to pursue a run for the Nationwide Series driver crown. Given how much this title has been undermined by Cup regulars in recent years, encouraging drivers and teams to give a damn and Chase for the Championship is a necessity in changing the series.
Let’s take a step back and look at what I’ve advocated in this piece. I’ve called for the return to stock cars, of vehicles that in no way resemble any national touring race series taking to American race tracks today. I’ve called for a schedule that emphasizes older venues and short tracks over intermediate ovals, and a schedule that strays from the staples of the Sprint Cup ranks. I’ve called for the implementation of a provisional system, and a limit on Cup driver participation that emphasizes Nationwide regulars and the chase for that series’ driver championship.
The common thread here is that each of these aspects of racing, should they be touched on, would go a long way in establishing a unique and distinct identity for the Nationwide Series. They would constitute a return to the roots of stock car racing, and would provide a lower-cost, fan-friendly product that can and will be viable in the long-run.
I could write a book on this topic, and very well might over the course of the offseason. But I hope that this taste of a plan to fix/change the Nationwide Series will generate discussion, get fans thinking about what could be, and keeps the Nationwide Series on the brain as we begin the long countdown to Speedweeks.
©2000 - 2008 Bryan Davis Keith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Some form of penalty to discourage start-and-park efforts might be good. I hate seeing a car that would have run the whole race out-qualified by one fast lap from a car that will be in the garage before lap 10. But is it better for them to be safely in the garage out of the way or to remain on the track as moving chicanes?
The last time we had a “field filler” problem (was it only back in 2003-2004?), it went away naturally when increased economic prosperity caused the field of competitive cars to increase — some of them being teams that had used start-and-park to finance their survival through the thin time. So maybe its overkill for a problem that’s likely to be temporary and cyclical anyway.
As for the rest:
“…the return to stock cars, of vehicles that in no way resemble any national touring race series taking to American race tracks today.”
Hmmm, if no racing series is running street cars maybe that means something?
Maybe it means that street cars are not suitable for racing without such heavy modification that they cease to have any relationship to a street car anyway?
And if you’re advocating running street cars on the race track isn’t it more than a little inconsistent to ask for bias-ply tires — an obsolete technology that no mechanic or salesman has ever even offered us when buying new tires for any vehicle we’ve owned in the past 20 years? Do Goodyear, Michelin, Hoosier, Firestone, Bridgestone, etc. even MAKE bias-ply tires for street cars? Why would a tire company want to put their name on a racing series in order to promote a product they consider inferior? http://www.michelinag.com/agx/en-US/products/advantages/bias_radial/bias_radial.jsp
I’d love to see more short tracks. The best racing comes on short tracks, road courses, and the weird-shaped tracks with the mismatched corners.
But forcing out the Cup stars would mean sharply-reduced attendance. That’s proven fact — by comparison to past events, by comparison across racing series, and by customer survey.
Few people go to a race to see a race with a random collection of drivers some of whose names they might vaguely recognize. People go to a race to see their favorite drivers in that race.
Maybe sharply reduced ticket prices would help make up the difference so that the former situation competes favorably with the thousand other ways to spend money on entertainment, but that would chop into the purse money and there is a hard floor to ticket prices because the track costs can’t exceed the take at the gate and even barely breaking even isn’t worth it for the track owner.
Same goes for televised races. Dumping the Cup stars would mean fewer viewers, lower advertising revenues, and probably an ARCA-like TV contract with races shown irregularly and sometimes tape delayed.
Reduced attendance and a badly degraded TV contract are not progress.
With the track owners wanting the Cup drivers. So they can sell more tickets. Coupled with the fact that NA$CAR is the majority track owner. Well, draw your own conclusions.
The “Start, & Park” cars are leeches. Who feed off the owners who come to put on the show. There are many ways to stop this. One would be to pay Tow Money, to be held against earnings, For every car that shows up. Then don’t pay anything to cars that fall out without verifiable reasons. Don’t pay the last 6 places, etc,etc. Everyone knows who they are, it wouldn’t be hard to stop.
I think that all full-time Cup drivers should be given their choice of any 10 NW races that they want to run in. Marybeth
I cant believe Carl Edwards is going to race full time in the Nationwide series AGAIN in 2009. What the hell does he have to prove?
Don’t allow any points to the Cup drivers. The fulltime NW guys deserve to go to the banquet.
I agree with Kevin in SoCal, why does Carl need to run the whole season? It’s just wrong.
Good idea about the S&Ps. Run the race or don’t bother showing up.
I agree. The Cup drivers are stealing the championships from the Nationwide regulars. It sure doesn’t make me admire the Cup drivers any more. It’s a travesty that needs to stop!
Last I checked your proposed series had a name.. The Goody’s Dash Series.. and it went the way of the dinosaur in about 2004 or 2005.