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!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Kurt Smith · Friday March 13, 2009
Since we’re taking the week off from racing, I thought I’d sort of take the week off from talking about it. I’m going to talk about baseball instead.
But fear not my friends; it is relevant to NASCAR. It’s just going to take a little while to get there. Enjoy the ride with your Friday morning coffee.
To save you the trouble of reading my profile, I was a terminal Baltimore Orioles fan before I was a NASCAR fan. My dedication to the Birds came not from living in the Baltimore area my whole life, but from growing up in a family of Orioles fans. The Smiths lived in Towson, Maryland, just minutes away from the old Memorial Stadium, when I was far too young to understand the importance of relief pitching. When I was four we moved to South Jersey, bringing our love for that tough-looking but smiling bird swinging the bat with us.
Growing up as an Orioles fan in the Philadelphia area gave me a different perspective than most regarding the venues where baseball is played. I was able to compare. Dad took me to Phillies games at Veterans Stadium, which was still great—it was live baseball after all, and I’m an American—but that didn’t measure up to when he’d gather a group of us for a trip to Baltimore. Going to Memorial Stadium for an occasional Orioles game is my favorite memory of childhood.
Memorial was a far better setting for baseball than the Vet. They played on grass and you could see a suburban community beyond center field. It was prettier on the outside too—a brick facade embossed with a dedication to fallen World War II soldiers. This was as opposed to the dreary concrete bowl with no similar dedication in Philadelphia (although Veterans Stadium was named in honor of our military heroes as well).
One of the things that purists (a nice, non-derogatory term for “old farts” like me) despised in the evolution of baseball during the 1970s was the emergence of the “multipurpose” stadium—large gray monstrosities built near a city’s airport and designed to hold both baseball and football events, and most egregiously featuring playing surfaces of plastic carpet instead of natural grass.
Among the worst features of the concrete doughnuts was their uniformity—Pirates third baseman Richie Hebner once commented that he could stand at the plate in Philadelphia and not know whether he was in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, St. Louis or Philly. I could add that if he didn’t notice big roofs, he could have been in Houston or Montreal too.
In those days baseball was in the process of modernizing in an economically friendly way—much like NASCAR is today—and the sport had forgotten that a big part of the charm of baseball was in its homes, places like Sportsman’s Park or Connie Mack Stadium…distinctive, asymmetrical, natural grass downtown ballparks that often both contributed to and reflected the character of a city.
Fortunately, people with unflagging determination, loud voices and passion about this very issue got involved in the designing of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
When the majestic new Baltimore ballpark opened in 1992, it made such a huge splash that for years, teams and cities talked about wanting a new “Camden Yards-type facility” for professional baseball. Oriole Park completely obliterated the ongoing wisdom about what a modern baseball field should be. When fans attended a baseball game at the Yard, they remembered—or if they were too young to remember, they discovered—what was good and right about being present for a ballgame. As an Orioles fan, it even made it difficult for me to lament the loss of Memorial Stadium, although I still do.
After the dawn of Camden Yards, new and dazzling palaces of baseball began to spring up in cities across America—Cleveland, Arlington, Denver, Atlanta, Milwaukee, and so on until 2009 as two gorgeous new parks open in New York City. Nearly every ballpark in baseball now offers a charming experience unique to its location. Not only has the ballpark boom revitalized the sport, it has often boosted tourism and local economies in many of the cities where new ones were constructed. Baltimore and Cleveland are the best examples.
What made it all happen was what Camden Yards represented—it was an “old style” ballpark with “modern amenities”, like not having seats behind support pillars. Visually, Camden Yards brings to mind classic parks like Fenway Park or Wrigley Field. And it adds a few aesthetically striking features of its own, most notably the dominating B&O warehouse beyond right-center field. But Camden Yards also has better sightlines, more leg room, more concession stands and more rest rooms than Wrigley or Fenway.
Another feature that would surprise fans was the amount of seats—just 48,000 as opposed to over 60,000 in the cookie-cutters, leaving very few poor seats in the house. No one expected a team to ever do this, but it turned out to be a great way to fill up a place most every night and to leave fans wanting more—and as any Green Bay Packers fan can tell you, the more difficult it is to see an event live, the more people will appreciate it and renew their season tickets.
Baseball turned to the multipurpose concrete doughnut stadiums in the name of economics. But when the architects of Camden Yards sought to reverse the bottom-line oriented trend and rediscover the game’s heart, the subsequent economic return was enormous—far larger than the return from any dispassionate plan would have been. And the seemingly unstoppable and depressing trend towards characterless baseball venues was felled in one swoop. The rest of the cookie-cutters fell like dominoes in less than 15 years.
Camden Yards succeeded because it was conceived by people who thought like fans instead of accountants. Someone should hire them to be NASCAR advisers.
One of the bigger beefs longtime fans of NASCAR have today is the unimaginative size, shape, and location of too many of the current venues. Like the cookie-cutters that once dominated baseball, NASCAR’s schedule today is dominated by garden-variety tracks with no standout features. Little distinguishes Kansas Speedway from Chicagoland, Homestead, Las Vegas or Texas, especially when watching on television. Some newer tracks are to be applauded for the things that do improve the fan experience (like seats instead of benches), but they are clearly built with the same intention as the concrete doughnuts in baseball were—to attract as many fans as possible and to expend no energy on design or quirky originality.
Do fans at Bristol Motor Speedway care about the comfort level in their seat on race day? Hell no. They’d sit on damp concrete to witness a race in Thunder Valley. No matter what Lowe’s Motor Speedway does to improve the fan experience, it will never achieve Bristol status.
Profit concerns may simply have dictated that North Wilkesboro, Rockingham, or Darlington lose races. What has upset fans is that these classic, distinctive venues have been replaced by run of the mill and far less endearing speedways. To replace Darlington or North Wilkesboro with Texas or Fontana is to rip out a piece of a sport’s soul, just as replacing Forbes Field with Three Rivers Stadium was.
NASCAR still has a few classic venues that offer a unique fan experience and a unique racing challenge. Martinsville is one. Dover is another. Darlington will always be a favorite. These tracks should never be replaced unless they aren’t maintained, or if they draw poorly from year to year. Yet all three are occasionally spoken of as being in NASCAR’s sights for removal of races.
Economics doesn’t care about hearts. But hearts don’t care about economics either, and it works both ways…if a sport’s economic decision loses fans, it loses their economic value. NASCAR has lost sight of that in a big way. Tracks are given races based on balance sheet numbers only. It still doesn’t seem to have dawned on anyone at NASCAR that removing Labor Day from Darlington is a large part of the bottom-line mentality that has driven away thousands of fans. The one economic concern that should override absolutely everything else is keeping customers.
The real economics lay within the heart of the fan base. There is no need or reason to sell one or the other short, no matter how contradicting that may sound. Baseball has proven it. If NASCAR can’t stay at Rockingham, they could at least find or build a speedway that isn’t cut from the same worn-out mold.
And should Bruton Smith or the France family take such an opportunity to build a Camden Yards for motorsports, they could also rise above the taxpayer theft that many sports teams have pulled on their cities and build speedways with their own money. Smith has threatened to fund an entirely new racetrack himself in the past. That just might turn a few fed up taxpayers into NASCAR fans. Smith could do it. And he’s just the guy to do it.
So as we return to talking about NASCAR next week, before the circus returns to one its most fabled venues, The Official Columnist of NASCAR is going to provide a rough design for a new racetrack—an “old-style” track with “modern amenities”. Tune in to Happy Hour next week to read about the features of Kurt Smith Motor Speedway…and feel free to add any ideas of your own that I hadn’t thought of.
Kurt’s Dry Off-Week Shorts
©2000 - 2008 Kurt Smith and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
AMEN! No matter how many times drivers/media members ‘inform’ fans that each track has it’s own quirks and is thus NOT a ‘cookie cutter’, they fail to see things from a fan’s perspective. While what they say may be true, watching the races at these tracks tends to be identical from the stands. Little passing except during pit stops, long green flag runs that spread the field to the point you need a stopwatch to determine if a car is moving forward or not. All the expensive ‘neon garages’ won’t make up for tracks with little or no character.
Good article Kurt. I think NASCAR could also learn from baseball in how they implement change in the sport. Baseball is very methodical and slow in making changes. The major changes NASCAR (Brian France) implemented in the last 5 years should have been implemented over a 15 to 20 year period.
This, IMHO, is one of the best articles ever written on this site. Please, somebody, get this into the hands of SMI and ISC (and NASCAR).
Though that makes me realize one of the reasons for the cookie-cutter track phenomenon: unlike in baseball, where each team commissions its own stadium, there are only two groups – ISC and SMI – that commission all race tracks. With only two corporations – heartless entities in themselves – in charge of building speedways, it’ll be near impossible to convince them to build unique speedways.
Excellent article. You could add a bit about the cookie cutter car too, now that they are all almost basically the same. The entire sport no longer has any soul or character, like it once did. Bland drivers, bland tracks, and bland cars do not lend themselves to a very successful future.
I might point out that if Nascar (ISC) and Bruton Smith were smart, they would never build anymore 1.5 mile tracks and only build Richmond or Bristol type tracks.
This is where the best racing occurs, because the cars are less dependent on aero at those tracks. The shape of these cars do not lend themselves to larger tracks.
This is of course assuming they ever get to build anymore – my guess is that the expansion days of Nascar are long gone.
Now, they could get a wild hair and tear an existing one up and reconfigure…..nah, that makes too much sense.
Now you’ve gotten me to thinking about baseball. I grew up listening to Harry Carey on the radio. I used to stay up late listening to west coast, Cardinal games. Then about the second time the players went on strike. I thought “who needs these spoiled greedy millionaires? I haven’t watched, or listened to a game since. You just reminded me that the whole NA$CAR experience is feeling very similar.
Now, I would be ecstatic as a TMS season ticket holder if they reconfigured Texas into a Richmond/Darlington-clone. Or, took some of the (lots of land) and built a Bristol or Martinsville clone and used that for Race #2.
That being said, I do like the racing at the 1.5m intermediates…and will freely admit I’m probably biased. I think that Texas, Charlotte and Atlanta are fine (racing wise) and having Vegas on the schedule provides benefit beyond the racing. The problems that I have are too-much-of-a-good-thing. Kansas, Chicago, and Fontana (I know, not a 1.5m intermediate, and a dead horse to boot) should be reconfigured into different things.
It doesn’t have to be Super Mario Kart, but we need more high-banked-short (ish) tracks. I’d drive to Iowa for a cup/truck weekend.
All that and not ONE mention of Wrigley Field?! Oh the horror!
You ought to e-mail this to the France morons at I$C/NA$CAR. Not that they’ll listen. Best article on Frontstretch in a long time. The absolute truth.
There is so much I could say here. But, I’ll limit myself to this:
1) I agree with nearly all of this article.
2) Isn’t it interesting that all of the remaining “independent” tracks on the cup circuit are unique. Dover is the “monster mile” with high-banked turns. Indianapolis is the only non-road course with four turns and four straightaways. And, Pocono is the most unique of the bunch, shaped like an asymmetric coat hanger with its three different corners and three different straights.
Now, some people don’t like the racing at Pocono and some even don’t like it at Indy. But, there is no mistaking these three tracks for any others!
Excellent analogy. The guy who builds a “new” North Wilksboro will strike gold.
There needs to be more tracks like Bristol on the NASCAR slate. If I wanted to build more speedways across America, they would all be clones of Bristol.
Speaking of Bristol, the only race the track should have is the final race. That’s right, the big NASCAR title fight should be at the Bristol Motor Speedway. I can tell you why in just five words:
SAVE THE BEST FOR LAST
I even e-mailed Bristol Motor Speedway letting them know that, Mr. Jeff Byrd, Bristol Motor Speedway general manager himself, in fact. He thanked me a lot for my generosity.
We need more Bristols in NASCAR today, end of story.
Great article. Growing up outside of Boston I remember taking the “T” into Kenmore Square up the hill grab a sausage sub on the corner at the Cask and Flagon and head on into the bleachers at Fenway. I was baseball spoiled, Wade Boggs and Jimmy Rice and the ever hated Yankees. But now I understand why I’d rather drive 6 1/2 hours to Phoenix than 2 1/2 hours to ACS. Thanks Kurt
You know if they build clones of bristol, richmond, darlington, etc… wouldn’t THEY also be cookie cutter tracks? The mold is already cast. Wether you copy charlotte, chicago, homestead… whatever, you’re still making a clone in a different market. There’s only so many ways to draw a circle folks! Keep the shapes the same, vary the banking. Oh wait that’s what they did…
I’m emailing it to everyone. And printing off dozens of copies to hand out.
By definition road courses offer variety. Anyone else out there remember Nascar at Bridgehampton?
How ‘bout a high-banked road course? I’d like to see some 35 degree S’s myself. I think if NASCAR had their own brand of road courses people wouldn’t mind ‘em as much.
Also, as many have already said, this article was thoughtful and well-put. You’ve articulated many of our sentiments clearly. Thanks.
Just wanted to thank all of you who took the time to comment. I do read the talkback and really appreciate the kind words. Thanks for reading.
George, Riverside was a high-banked road course, if I remember correctly. The last turn before the start-finish line, wasnt it?