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Voices From The Cheapseats · Jeff Meyer · Monday November 12, 2012
If you haven’t read Friday’s column written by my esteemed, award-winning colleague Amy Henderson, you should.
In it, Amy eloquently explains, in a much nicer and less crude way than I do, the many points that are making NASCAR just another channel to surf over on a Sunday afternoon. While I agree with Amy on almost every point, a very rare occasion indeed, I do disagree that the way to “fix” NASCAR is not simple but actually quite the opposite. To put it mildly, the fixes are no brainers; they’re just choices NASCAR simply does not have the balls to make.
First and foremost, get rid of Brian France. France may be a “marketing genius” but let’s be honest, he has no business running the whole sanctioning body. There needs to be some sort of coup amidst the France family where Brian is removed as CEO and sent to do what he does best, marketing!
Once Brian is removed, NASCAR must then “undo” almost every crazy gimmick that he implemented. Heck, just the news of his removal would bring back, or at least perk the interest of many once die-hard fans that have since become “very casual” over the last decade. It would signify to millions that NASCAR is at least trying to right a ship that has been floundering.
The next, most effective move the sanctioning body could do is get rid of the Chase and go back to the traditional points system with one simple yet profound little modification… a win scores 50 (maybe 75) points more than second place. This minor adjustment would placate millions more, including those who hate the Chase, those who despise “points racing” and those who have come to feel that the races are “contrived,” just to name a few.
Don’t tell me this can’t be done in one fell swoop! If you remember correctly, the Chase was created in one fell swoop at the end of 2003 when it appeared unfair that Matt Kenseth won the Cup with one single victory compared to Ryan Newman’s eight! As I wrote way back then, if you go back and give Newman 50 extra points for each win, Kenseth still takes the title!
In fact, now that I go back and read that article, I have to chuckle! Instead of writing all this new material, for you now I probably should have just had the editors re-run that one! Funny how the same solutions I proposed back then are still the ones needed today!
One area that I didn’t touch on back then was integrity and that is one thing that NASCAR could use a good dose of. At the very least, even if they are not an integrious bunch (yes, I just made that word up, but you know what I mean!) they need to appear to be!
Be up front with penalties and the reasons for them. Don’t fine the drivers in secret when they say negative things about NASCAR. For goodness’ sake, have some balls and shrug it off! Be up front with drug testing. Fans don’t want all the drama of trying to guess what the latest driver is being suspended for. Here’s a good one… have the common sense to admit that something is wrong, that they (NASCAR) made a mistake.
Take, for example, the “wing” that replace the rear spoiler for a few years. After several nasty wrecks, NASCAR insisted that the wing was not the reason the cars were going airborne when turned backwards at speed; yet suddenly, just as fast as they appeared, the wings disappeared! To this day, NASCAR will not admit that they were wrong on that one.
On a positive note, and perhaps a start of things to come, NASCAR has done a thing or two right over the last 10 years and another big mistake is being fixed going into next year. I speak of none other than green-white-checkered race finishes, double-file restarts and essentially going back to old school qualifying and doing away with the ridiculous Top 35 rule.
Oddly enough, some people claim that double-file restarts are simply a gimmick but they couldn’t be more wrong. Think about it… it’s called a “re-start.” You start the race in double file so why, for the love of Bob, would you not “re-start” double file as well?
At any rate, these “fixes” ARE simple and could be done as soon as next year but bear in mind that they are not magical. It has taken NASCAR ten years to drive away its “hard core” fan base. It will take years to win them back; but of course, the first step is to show they want them! Unfortunately, I still don’t think they got the lugnuts to do it!
Of course, the above solutions are only the tip of the iceberg. While I feel that they would be the most effective for showing that NASCAR seriously wants to turn things around, they are by no means the only “fixes” that should be considered.
Tune in next week and I will regale you with more of those finely-tuned tweaks! In the meantime…
Stay off the wall,
©2000 - 2008 Jeff Meyer and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
You proposals don’t go far enough. NASCAR should not give more points to the winner, they should go back to giving bonus points for finishing in the top 4, 10, etc. As it is, one point isn’t much of an incentive to fight for 5th place rather than settle for 6th. NASCAR should also figure out some way of awarding points for running position during the race, so that drivers have an incentive to race as hard as they can for every position throughout the race, which would get rid of the sight of drivers letting other drivers pass with ease because it’s still early in the race. Finally, NASCAR should allow drivers to ‘drop’ a race which would allow drivers to more aggressive without fear that coming up short would ruin their season.
Two quick points: how many people really care about the championship regardless of the format? Its simply a way for Nascar to keep the sport in the news.
Also, as a person who has followed Nascar more or less closely for over 40 years, they need to focus on attracting younger, not older fans. Its a fact that we get older, less active, intraspective, etc. At 62 how many years do I have left? But the 18 year old kid could be a fan for decades more.
Fix the product, the fans will come back. Hopefully the 2013 car will go a long way towards making that happen. More dependance on mechanical grip, less dependance on aero. Secondly – Goodyear must be able to come up with a double compound tire. Softer rubber that gives up 3 to 5 seconds over the course of a 50 mile run & wears to a harder compound with less grip, that won’t blow out.
If you have these two things, then you have a car that is capable of passing from the start of the race to the end. This will make the races much more exciting. Exciting racing draws fans to the track & viewers to the TV screen.
Third – I agree somewhat with the points system. I propose the following.
30th – 43rd – 35points each.
Give a 3 point bonus for leading a single lap under green, a 5 point bonus for leading the most laps & 3 points for leading at the 20, 40, 60 & 80% laps complete portion of each race.
This way a driver is rewarded with a higher % of the total points available the closer they get to the front and therefore it is more beneficial to try & get that extra spot instead of settling for a top 10 run & it gives incentive to get to the front & lead throughout the entire race. AND it rewards the winner greater than anyone else on the track.
Also – by awarding equal points for 30th on back, it doesn’t penalize drivers as harshly if they have a bad race & it keeps wrecked cars off the track and out of the way.
These 3 things will fix the product on the track & make it exciting again. Every lap.
You can change the chase, you can change the rules, you can make the cars look more stock. You can change the broadcast personalities, you can change the broadcast philosophies, you can change the tracks themselves. There are hundreds of little things you can change, but they will all have minimal impact on the ratings & the tickets sold.
If you make the product exciting again, fans will come to the track & fans will watch on tv – regardless of all the other changes, liked or disliked.
Maybe there should be points for qualifying, like 5-1 for first through fifth. Make it matter where a driver starts.
Get rid of the current car and give them something that they can really adjust on and “race” with. That includes the 2013 model because it is based on the current car of S#&^.
And maybe they should get more than one driver who really want to “race” during a “race.” There’s a difference between racing hard and racing stupid.
I think that NASCAR really only has 2 1/2 real problems. Otherwise, they’re doing way better than any other series in the US.
First, they can’t do anything about, is the economy. People like me can’t do those $600 dollar weekends like we used to, and it takes twice as much to fill up RVs nowadays too. No sport (or any other regular event) comes close to a Cup race in terms of people traveling to see it, which now A: Costs more, when I B: Got less money. But, my Buccaneers & Rays can’t sell out either, and we all live here, so it aint just gas prices.
Second, is the fans. That’s right I said it. Brian France (The guy most of you love to hate) tried to open things up to the fans, “What do you want? How can we make things better?” And all the fans have done is turn it into “Let’s all bitch about how the sport isn’t perfect for me” and create this sort of running infomercial of how bad it all is, and then talk about how nobody shows up!
And the other 1/2 is just fate. This sport reached it’s peak on the life & death of Dale Earnhardt. 10 years later, there isn’t anything as compelling to sustain it. To expect that there would be, I think, is disrespectful of how significant (and therefore popular) those times were.
The 2013 car won’t make a bit of difference on the cookie cutters. That’s where the problem lays – the dominance of BORING cookie cutter tracks!
Too many fixes, not enough balls, as pointed out. Jeff, you don’t go far enough.
1. Remove exactly half the races at 1.5 mile cookie cutter crapovals. Replace them with races at real tracks like Rockingham, Darlington, and Iowa.
2. SHORTEN THE RACES!!!! Keep the Daytona, keep the Coke 600, maybe one of the Charlote 500 milers, make those “marquee” endurance events and run SHORTER races everywhere else. Drivers wouldn’t BE “just logging laps” if there were less of them! Watch the Truck Series for proof.
3. Reduce the chances of fuel mileage racing: give everyone a big enough tank to last exactly half the race. How and when they choose to fill it is up to them.
4. Get rid of the Chase, for all the reasons everyone else listed above. I think 50 points extra for a win is a bit ridiculous, but it should be a good amount. Something like 200 for the win, 180 for second, 160 for 3rd, etc etc with another big gap after the top 10.
5. With the same sytem, award 5 points for pole position. Make qualifying MATTER again.
6. Get rid of the top 35 BS. Everyone qualifies on time. It happens in every other sport, champions occasionally missing the field because of a bad qualifying run. DEAL WITH IT. Hell, James Beuscher missed the field in the Trucks last season and still finished second in points!
7. Try as hard as possible to reduce “aero push.” Hopefully the new cars do that, but there’s a good chance they won’t.
8. Racing hard, or accidentally turning another car by racing hard, should not be penalized. Blatantly wrecking someone for revenge should be. Harshly.
9. Prevent Cup drivers from racing in Nationwide or Truck (they’re almost out of Truck, thankfully)… Let these series cultivate NEW and fresh talent, so that the Cup series HAS new and fresh talent to go that have been PROVEN.
10. Bring in more Short tracks, bring in more Road courses. Over the last 10 years no other form of track has been more exciting or interesting to watch.
If the older fans stop going to races, that means they stop bringing their children and or grandchildren. If you lose the old fans, what is going to get the young fans interested? Cars riding around in circles and not racing isnt going to do it!
Brian France and the powers that be have alienated a huge base of older fans, that would have kept the cycle alive. Now they have broken that cycle. It will take many years if ever, to get the fan base back to where it was 10 years ago.
I am a 46 year old male that went to my first race with my Dad in 1980. I have now been a fan for approx 32 years. I have taken my Son to a couple of races. While he enjoys going to the race, he doesn’t waste his Sundays watching boring races. He is barely a fan. If things continue they way they are going, do you think he will be bringing his kid(s) to a NASCAR race in the future? Highly unlikely. That is the NEW cycle.
My Dad, me and my son attend the annual Spring race at Bristol. We still go because we enjoy the weekend together. We sure as hell aren’t still going because the racing is exciting! Exciting racing is what got us STARTED going to races. If I had attended my first live race in the last couple of years, I would have never became a NASCAR fan. That’s the damn sad truth.
My love of this sport is currently on life support. I am still clinging on in the “HOPES” that someone in Daytona Beach wakes up and makes some changes before the sport is lost forever!
Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:
Voices From The Cheap Seats: The Tale Of Two Tires
BSNews! Bruton’s Plans Extend Beyond Bristol’s Track
Top Ten Reasons Fans Failed To Show Up At Bristol Sunday
BSNews! NASCAR CEO Given "Special" Award Amidst Lavish Fanfare
Fan Coun-ci-What? Just What Is It That NASCAR Wants To Study?
Want to know more about Jeff Meyer or view his complete article archives? Then hop on over to his archive and bio page.