The Frontstretch: Potts' Shots: Be Careful What You Wish For... And Just Split The Difference? by John Potts -- Thursday March 29, 2012

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Potts' Shots: Be Careful What You Wish For... And Just Split The Difference?

NASCAR Fan Q & A · John Potts · Thursday March 29, 2012


Not exactly a question to start, but here’s a response to a comment on a Frontstretch commentary Doug S. made regarding possible changes to Bristol Motor Speedway.

Be careful what you wish for. If he changes the track and it still doesn’t sell out, I wouldn’t put it past Bruton Smith to ensure a sellout for Bristol by racing there only one time a year. He’s dying to get a second race at Las Vegas. I’ll bet he’ll get it at the expense of Bristol. And he’ll throw that survey back in the face of fans. “Hey, ya’ll said if I changed the track you’d show and you didn’t so… they come to Vegas, let’s go there twice a year.”

“What’s this? Drivers not smashing into each other from behind? This won’t do — summon the backhoes!”

That’s a pretty good take on the situation, Doug. Bristol holds 160,000 and Las Vegas 142,000 according to the NASCAR Media Guide. If it didn’t sell completely out twice at Vegas, would he try to move the second race back to Bristol? I’m betting that if the change in configuration works (and Bruton says they have it all on computers to make it just like it was) we’ll see a return to the slam-bam, outta-my-way-ma’am racing we saw there in the past.

Which brings up another slant on this deal: several drivers have already gone on record as saying they aren’t in favor of changing it back to the old configuration.

Gee, what a complete surprise. Now it’s easier to pass for position at Bristol, and they want to keep it that way. This is completely understandable, of course.

But do we want to listen only to the drivers?

Let’s face it, it’s the people who watch the events that pay the freight, as I was taught by the first promoter I worked for, way back when. I know some track operators have stated that ticket sales only cover the sanction fee, and the profit is in sponsorships and television rights.

I’ve got my doubts on that one, but why do sponsors get involved? They’re appealing to the fans to support them and buy their product, whatever it may be. If the fans don’t support those sponsors and buy those products, they’re going to drop out. (Same goes for the TV rights. No sponsors, TV can’t survive and the next thing you know we’re on a pay-per-view basis. Which still means the fans have to support it.)

If sponsors drop out, there goes the multi-million dollar driver salaries along with everything else. We’re back to the 1960s era of funding and support, but with the equipment and travel costs what they are today. And while we’re on the subject, who thought up this Florida-to-Arizona-to-Nevada, back-to-Tennessee, out-to-California, and back-to-Virginia deal?

Any way you slice it, the people watching these races are paying the freight.

Also, driver “suggestions” haven’t always worked out. Remember years ago when Rusty Wallace said Goodyear should make a harder tire to put more of it in the drivers’ hands?

Like you said, Doug, be careful what you wish for…

There have been a couple of phone calls this week with comments on the boring race at California last Sunday. I’ll admit it put me to sleep for a few laps.

How these bad races came about, back in the day… “Hey Kyle, I told NASCAR they needed to have Goodyear make the tires really hard to put on a good race. Guess what? They bought it!”

At the same time, I recall a lot of folks noting that the racing for position wasn’t bad because the teams were pretty sure the race was only going to make it to halfway.

This, naturally, led to some suggestions for shorter races.

Although I like this approach, I’ll have to agree with my Frontstretch colleague Bryan Davis Keith, who said the tracks weren’t going to want to pay the same purse or sanction fee for half of the race.

He suggests incentives of some type to promote more passing.

That would take some thought, sure, but what doesn’t? One of the best incentive point programs I’ve seen was the one thought up by Dick Jordan, director of the United States Auto Club’s news department, for the regional midget series they ran at the Indianapolis Speedrome.

I’m not sure of the points per position finished, but if I’m not mistaken, they awarded a point for each car you passed during the feature. Making this even more fun was the fact that they lined up inverted according to points.

On the other hand, some of the most exciting races I’ve flagged, seen, promoted, or watched were with a split format; “Shootout-Style,” if you prefer.

In the old ASA Bluegrass 300 at Louisville, we lined them up according to qualifying times for the first 100, inverted the finish order of cars still running at the end of the second heat (with DNF cars that were able to go lined up at the rear according to laps completed); then, according to the finish of the second 100 laps for the third race. Drivers got points according to their finish position in each 100, 1-2-3-4, etc. The lowest point total was the overall winner.

Now, at California, say, you could split the race into a couple of 100-lappers, pay half the purse for each 100, and maybe restructure the points accordingly. Or maybe full points for each 100. Run both of them lined up according to qualifying, or invert the second start by our old system.

Something to think about…

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Today on the Frontstretch:
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NASCAR Mailbox: Past Winners Aren’t Winning …. Yet
Open Wheel Wednesday: How Can IndyCar Stand Out?


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03/29/2012 04:32 AM

Can anybody tell me.. Did RCR start and park the 33 at California?

just talking
03/29/2012 09:34 AM

I would love to see heats each race rather than one long race. Two 75 lap heats + 100 or 150 lap race. No top 35 or anything – come and race. First 15 or so finishers go onto the final race. Award points throughout. I know more details would need to be worked out.

Sponsors and top owners would never go for it though.

03/29/2012 11:53 AM

@chrism17 – engine failure for the 33

Mike In NH
03/29/2012 01:20 PM

How about, instead of no points and just wins counting, you only get from 15 to 1 points for a Top 15 finish, and another three points for a win? I’m betting that’ll cause a lot more craziness as racers try to get in the top 15, and more people racing for wins to compensate for not finishing in the points at a previous race. Then you can toss the Top 35 out the window too, and the Chase. Plus this system would cause a lot more churn in point standings as one or two bad (or great) finishes can significantly alter the standings.

03/29/2012 03:29 PM

I put a lot of thought into it. This is the best system that I could come up with to make the entire race exciting.

1st – 100
2nd – 90
3rd – 81
4th – 73
5th – 66
6th – 60
7th – 55
8th – 51
9th – 48
10th – 46
11th – 45
12th – 44
13th – 43….
30th – 26
31st – 43rd – 25

5 Bonus points for leading at 20%, 40%, 60%, & 80% laps complete portion of the race.
5 Bonus points for leading the most laps
5 Bonus points for sitting on the pole
No cars are locked in to the top 35
Every race is impound
Fastest 40 cars qualify with 3 provisional spots.

This way there is competiton to get to the front throughout the entire race, there is incentive to stay there once you get there, and because each position as you get closer to the front is worth incrementally more points, guys won’t be as inclined to sit back for a safe 8th place finish because its worth so much more to finish 7th, 6th or 5th… The most important part is that from 31st back is equal points, so there is zero incentive for wrecked cars to hit the track again.

It keeps guys racy & rewards them for getting closer to the front & definately for leading for the whole race. It would also keep guys from back marking at plate tracks.

03/30/2012 12:59 AM

Just talking, you mirror my thoughts exactly. This would fit short tracks greatly giving more room for larger pits and more room on the track.

03/30/2012 10:47 AM

When Bruton puts this track back to the way it was, and the Chase only a few weeks after Bristol, I envision a 500 lap parade all day long because nobody wants to ruin their Chase chances. Like you said, be careful what you wish for.