The Frontstretch: Penske to Ford? Whoopidy Dodgety Doo! by Jeff Meyer -- Friday March 2, 2012

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Penske to Ford? Whoopidy Dodgety Doo!

Voices from the Cheap Seats · Jeff Meyer · Friday March 2, 2012


Well, I bet the dude in charge of making the Mayan calendar never saw THIS coming!

You’d think, by the length of the press releases and all the hub-bub on the net, that the announcement of the legendary Penske Racing organization switching to Ford cars for the 2013 season was akin to news of the world coming to an end. Really? C’mon people, get real!

Basically, and I’ve said this a thousand times over the years, there are two types of race fans. Those that cheer for the man and those that cheer for the car. Personally, Carl Edwards is my favorite. Before him it was Dale Jarrett. Also, personally, I absolutely DETEST Ford cars, with the exception of some ‘60s and ‘70s models. The reason I have vowed that there never be another Ford titled to me in MY driveway is not because of some misguided hatred of ovals and a love of bowties, but simply because every one I have ever owned has caused me more misery, money and heartbreak than my ex-wife, daughters and current girlfriend combined!

Obviously since Edwards and Jarrett do and or did drive Fords, I am a fan of the man when it comes to NASCAR and not the car. Believe it or not, I sleep just fine at night and I have not had to pay some overpriced shrink one thin dime to get on with my daily life. Hopefully, with today’s announcement, those that are a fan of the CAR will find some way to go on living. Unfortunately for them, the days of those types of fans may (and ultimately should) be numbered!

No, no, no! Don’t go getting all bent out of shape on me…I’m not advocating a ‘cleansing of the NASCAR fan pool’ or anything like that. What I AM advocating is a healthy dose of NASCAR…especially TODAY’S NASCAR, reality.

The reality is that, as the press releases clearly indicate, racing teams change ‘manufacturers’ all the time. Some more than others, sure, but it happens all the time.

Robby Gordon’s 2008 penalty for running a supposedly incorrect Dodge nose was just one example of how NASCAR’s new machines have led to rules bordering on asinine.

Remember a few years ago when, something like two weeks before the beginning of the season, Robby Gordon decided to switch makes? Ironically, if I recall correctly (and I may not be!) Robby was switching from Ford to Dodge. The long and short of it all was basically just an engine switch and a spiffy new set of decals. Even more ironically if again, I recall correctly (and I could STILL not be!), he got into trouble from Dodge for putting the ‘new’ Dodge front end decal on his car before he was supposed to. Sure, Robby Gordon’s outfit was nowhere near as big as Penske, but it was at that time, and still is, an excellent example of the reality of today’s NASCAR as we know it.

Here is another reality for you; If more people, or more importantly NASCAR, would pull their heads out of whatever they’re in, and see the sport for what it really is, or at least what the France family has brought it too, we all could finally get down to some serious racing. AND, more importantly, so NASCAR has always claimed, saving teams money. Here is what needs to happen;

First of all, people need to realize that NASCAR has ‘ruled’ the sport to death to the point that all the cars are equal anyway! People are always putting IROC racing down, but in all reality it is exactly what we have now…almost! I say almost because we (the fan) just need to embrace it and insist that is exactly what NASCAR give us. Besides, some of the best races I have ever seen were IROC races, where all the cars were identical and the winning was left up to the talent of the driver. What if NASCAR worked like this (or a version thereof)…?

One independent company builds racecars, to NASCAR’s exacting specs of course, and ONLY one company. NASCAR can mandate exactly how they want it, each and every one.

Lets say Rick Hendrick wants to own a race team. He hires who he wants to drive and he buys each race car at a set price from said company for said race. He can opt to race engines, again, made from said company, made from Ford, Chevy, Dodge or Toyota parts, each accompanied with the right set of decals to go with it. NASCAR can control everything tech wise and all the cars would be equal.

Now, if Hendrick has good drivers and wins and is a good talker, he can still get sponsors to help foot the bill for the purchase of race cars, but that is all he has to do. The better the team does, the better the sponsor does, the more money they both make, and so on and so forth.

We wouldn’t have problems with cheating…Chad Knaus would have nothing to do other than to call the strategy from the pit box, as it should be!

With all the cars being equal, winning comes down to (mostly) driver talent. Danica Patrick wouldn’t have to wonder aloud to reporters why they have to describe her as ‘sexy’ when it comes to NASCAR racing. We (and she) could find out if say, ‘very talented’ or ‘great racer’ or ‘great wheelwoman’ was more apropos. As of now, if I were her, I’d be happy with ‘sexy’ (and even that is subject to debate.)

Of course, the business model I have described above would have some bugs to iron out, as will any great idea before it is perfected. Personally, I’d bet that if all cars were truly equal in NASCAR as they were in IROC, the racing wouldn’t be that different. The cream always rises to the top, no matter if you’re wearing a blue oval cuff links or a bowtie.

NASCAR is almost there now. Might as well take it to the next level and find out who the best really is every year, not just who has the most money to throw around.

Stay off the wall,

Jeff Meyer

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Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
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03/02/2012 09:04 AM

And the fans wouldn’t support that type of racing as has been proven by IROC!!…..

The Mad Man
03/02/2012 09:08 AM

Robby got in trouble with NASCAR for using the new, approved Dodge fascia on his car when he switched from Ford to Dodge. According to the gobbledygook at the time, even though it was approved by NASCAR, it wasn’t approved. Robby bought the then new fascia’s from Evernham Racing and even though the numbers and everything else matched up with the rulebook, NASCAR said they weren’t legal. Go figure.

The main reason for Robby switching from Ford to Dodge was he said Roush was not giving him the same engines and level of support that was being provided to other Ford teams and that he was lacking 15 or more horsepower as compared to the Roush team cars.

Michael in SoCal
03/02/2012 10:31 AM

Robby got hosed big time by Nascar on that Dodge nose deal. My wife bought me one of the ‘Save Robby’ (or whatever the phrase was) t-shirts at Fontana that year to show support for RG!

Jeff Meyer FS staff
03/02/2012 05:32 PM

To johnboy60…uh the point I am kinda making here is that the fans already ARE supporting that type of racing! It’s just not structured in the same manner as IROC was. And, another thing, IROC was never as big a nascar car is and didn’t already have the ‘infrastructure’ that nascar already has or has made over the years. All the cars are equal now (as equal as nadcar can make them) so essentially you are watching ‘IROC” everyweek! Been this way for a long long time.

03/02/2012 05:36 PM

What do you think Penske leaving means to Dodge?

Jeff Meyer FS staff
03/02/2012 05:46 PM

After Petty’s reign, Dodge never really was a factor again. I mean, they dropped out once, came back in etc etc. Personally, I think Dodge is fine with kinda cutting their losses and are once again paving a way out of nascar. I (and probably them too)just dont see the return for their dollar by being in nascar anymore.

03/02/2012 07:38 PM

or…OR…instead of that mess, we can actually go back to stock car racing. people seemed to like it before. Problem was, GM started getting kicked around by the other dogs, so the Frances made it “more fair” in their favor. then they just kept going until now we have what we have now.
Francecar never wanted dodge, and have been working to get rid of them ever since. for example, 2004-05: dodge put thousand of man hours and millions of dollars in to the development of thier new charger race car. finally, they are satified with thier design. then, just before the new season opens up, Francecar mandates new specs on the rear ends of the cars, forcing dodge behind the 8-ball before even getting out of the gate. then, as soon as it seemed dodge may have figured something out, switch to the COT, which produced far more boring racing, modest safety improvements, and oh, yeah, led to six straight years of chevy championships. no bias obvious here

03/02/2012 10:24 PM

Jeff, I disagree on Dodge wanting to get out.
Check out the results Penske with the current Dodge to the previous stint with Ford. It comes out as a draw. The main reason he switched is he wants a championship and thinks the Ford will give it to him. Most of the time when teams change manufacturers is for more support (parts & Technology) I to am not a ford fan, however I do like some of their drivers. (not Crazy Carl) But, I would like for dodge to stay in the sport. On Big Bill France, I met him many years ago, he was a GM man true. He also wanted all manufacturers racing competitively. Because it was good for the sport. There is no such thing as “Cheating”. Any competitive competition, cars or horses or people will always look for an extra advantage. In the NASCAR GARAGE right now are some of the smartest engineers and they constantly look for the area where the rulemakers are not looking. It is called “Ultimate Engineering” It’s alway ben part of the game and always will. You can look back in the sixties where Junior Johnson built a ford with a slanted windshield and Smokey Yunick which did all of his unique engineering by himself, one comes to mind was the 67 chevelle witha raise spoiler moulded around the top of the rear window. It is great for the sport and it challenges all engineers.


Contact Jeff Meyer

Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

Voices From The Cheap Seats: The Tale Of Two Tires
BSNews! Bruton’s Plans Extend Beyond Bristol’s Track
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BSNews! NASCAR CEO Given "Special" Award Amidst Lavish Fanfare
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