The Frontstretch: Standing Alone Shouldn't Mean Stepping Away by Summer Bedgood -- Monday July 22, 2013

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Standing Alone Shouldn't Mean Stepping Away

Summer Bedgood · Monday July 22, 2013


“Joey Logano Wins Chicago” might come as a surprise to those who thought the Sprint Cup Series was on an off weekend. How did Logano win when there was no race?

Ah, yes, there may have been an off week in the Sprint Cup Series, but the Nationwide Series was still in full force. Even though Logano was the only Sprint Cup Series points eligible driver there, the odds seemed to be in his favor the moment his name appeared on the entry list.

And why is that? After all, the Nationwide Series is second only to the Sprint Cup Series in terms of competition (or is supposed to be). It doesn’t make sense that there should be one driver who is essentially a shoo-in for the race and everyone else is just running for second.

Unfortunately, NASCAR fans who have been watching for any amount of time knows all too well why Logano was a shoo-in before he even started. Though he is no Kyle Busch, who seemingly wins every time he straps behind the wheel of any lower series vehicle, Logano can still whip a Nationwide Series car with the best of them. 20 wins in the Nationwide Series since 2008 helps his case, along with 58 top five finishes in 118 starts. He’s an old hat at this, despite some up-and-down finishes in the Sprint Cup Series.

With that said, the standalone “feature” of the week for NASCAR was just more … fun. No, the racing wasn’t necessarily better (or anymore wonderful than it ever would be), but there is something special about seeing the Nationwide Series drivers have their own spotlight.

And, no, Logano’s win shouldn’t taint that. Look, I’m not one of those people who completely shreds any driver who runs a race outside of their own series. It’s one reason that I love racing and embrace its uniqueness. The rungs on the ladder, so to speak, are not set in stone. Drivers don’t have to race in the K&N Series before racing in Trucks or even race in Trucks before racing in Nationwide. There is no set path drivers have to take, and they are free to race in whichever series they want as they please, within certain limitations. It’s something other sports (understandably) don’t welcome, but I think works well in the motorsports community.

Agree or not, watching the Nationwide Series on a weekend sorely lacking in racing seemed to be a shining point for the series. Fans thirsty for racing paid more attention to a series normally overshadowed by its elder statesman in the Cup Series was now front and center in the eyes of the racing community. Even Sprint Cup Series regulars trying to enjoy their week at home couldn’t help but tune in.

For those of you saying that the Nationwide Series do still have standalone weekends, those are different. Normally, the practice sessions in the Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series are running similar time slots, and guess which one gets more attention? While the Nationwide Series is qualifying, fans are paying more attention to the latest smart alec remark in the Sprint Cup Series press room or the latest rumor floating through the garage area. It largely overshadow the Nationwide Series, even when the Nationwide Series is miles and miles away from the Sprint Cup Series’ choice of venue.

For the Nationwide Series, this weekend is a rarity. Since the Cup Series has few off weeks as it is, for the Nationwide Series to even have a spotlight is rare. To be the top series representing the sport on a given weekend is huge for the series, given that even the truest of NASCAR fans tend to brush it under the rug until the real guys are finished with their work.

There are already many drivers, crew members, etc. who think the Cup season should be shorter. Perhaps NASCAR won’t go for that, but what about more off weeks? It seems like it would be a win-win. You’d keep your traveling circus well rested on many cases, and gives a series the necessary spotlight that it so desperately needs. Sprint Cup Series drivers are less likely to compete during an off week, and it’s importance is magnified as the other two series drop off the map for a time.

Could it work? I don’t see why not, and I still believe all of the same fans would tune in as on any other weekend. It’s a simplistic solution to a problem that many would say is a glaring one for a series with no identity and only secondary attention.

It feels like a common sense solution, though one NASCAR has not embraced. Still, if you enjoy watching the Nationwide Series as much as I do without the added distraction, you’ll see where I’m coming from.

What do you all think, the ones who will actually decide whether or not to tune in? Would more Cup Series off weeks with Nationwide Series filler help either series, if not both?

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Today on the Frontstretch:
NASCAR Easter Eggs: A Few Off-Week Nuggets to Chew On
Five Points To Ponder: NASCAR’s Take-A-Breath Moment
Truckin’ Thursdays: Top Five All-Time Truck Series Drivers
Going By the Numbers: A Week Without Racing Can Bring Relief But Kill Momentum


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Bill B
07/22/2013 12:36 PM

“And, no, Logano’s win shouldn’t taint that.”

No it shouldn’t but it does. When I tuned in and saw Logano’s name on the running order scroll I just groaned. At that point I knew that I’d be channel surfing and not commit 100% to watching the race. With Logano winning, I was very happy that I didn’t commit to watching the race. Sorry, but I am sick of seeing the pro ranks mix it up with the triple A ranks. It doesn’t do anything for me. I don’t care which full-time cup driver(s) is/are in the race, I root for all of them to have a problem.

As for more off weeks, I don’t think you will see that. In order to have off weeks they need to contract the schedule (let’s say to 30 races) and if they do that I would think they’d shorten the season from late March to early October rather than opt for more off weekends. The thought of contraction is the last thing on NASCAR’s list because, with contraction, there will be less money generated for, at least, the foreseeable future.

Everyone will have to take a cut. Sponsors will expect to cut their payments by 6 races. TV contracts will not pay as much with fewer races. Teams will have 6 less races to collect purse money. There would most likely be some kind of layoffs to adjust to the smaller budgets. Overall the pie shrinks. Only as a last resort and with their back to the wall will any business opt to contract.

In the long run it might actually benefit the whole operation but there is no guarentee that would be the case, so contraction is not likely. It’s like taking a step back. Personally, I think it would be a good thing but contraction usually is a gad sign for any business (like a chain store closing locations because they are losing money).

07/22/2013 01:32 PM

I agree with what Bill B said.

NASCAR would be smarter if it did contract the season – run one race at each track currently on the schedule. It would make it an “event” and MIGHT bring back some of the fans – although I know NASCAR won’t do it. No, they’ll take more $ from the networks (if they can) and continue to put on rather boring “shows” instead of making it fun. I’ve turned into a casual fan, guess Brainless got what he wanted.

Bud Sudz
07/22/2013 01:50 PM

Although it will never happen, why not contract the schedule? Have the Cup drivers race on Weds and Sunday for the weekends between the Daytona 500 and the Chase (schedule geographically), two weeks on, one week off. Have the Nationwide and Truck Series run double-headers (same day) Tues, Thurs, and Saturday of the off week. Run 200 lap/200 mile Truck Races and 250 lap/250 mile Nationwide races. Rainouts would have to figured out, but travel expenses could be reduced. I would also limit the support series to the east of the Mississippi. Run 2/3rds of the schedule on 1 mile or smaller tracks. With the right
TV deal it could be a good thing for all involved. If any companion events need to be run, they could be run during the Chase.

07/22/2013 03:03 PM

I wish this arguement when it comes to Logano was consistent with ALL CUP DRIVERS, even though Joey is racing more with his own age group in NW. Young up and coming talent this and that blah blah blah..the driver isn’t denying anybody anything, he is doing a job he is paid and told to do
Drivers in the series have said they like to measure themselves against the Cuppers. The owners and sponsors make those decision NOT the drivers, so quit blaming the driver. Owners have the option of nuturing up and commers in NW..Joe Gibbs powerhouse in NW basically runs Cuppers. Sadler, Kenseth, Busch, Vickers(ooops..sorry its o.k. cause Sadler and Vickers are full time…lol) Gibbs Racing track record of not renewing contracts of the up and commers is not good(IMO). So get off all your high horses and stop blaming the driver, look to the Owners and Sponsors, this debate is really old.

Moe Foe
07/22/2013 03:03 PM

this will expand the racing while giving room in the schedule

NASCAR two-league system

PREAMBLE: To facilitate the expansion of NASCAR racing and ease the time constraints that drivers and teams are already facing, a two-league system could make more racing available to the public while giving the participants more options in the use of their time.

1. It starts with two separate leagues, consisting of 35 teams (cars). Races will still have 43 spaces for cars, so there is room for all manner of participants, from start-and-parks to local hot-shots, along with the season contenders.

2. Each team will select its league for the season in order of the previous season’s ranking. A team is locked into the league it declares for that season. If a team drops out of contention in mid-season, or cannot answer the bell at the first race, that slot is held for that team for the remainder of the season.

3. The two separate leagues will race each weekend on their own track for 26 regular season races, accruing points toward a league champion. The points are for league play only, as the Chase will determine the season winner.

4. The Chase (always capitalized) will be run for the top 20 contenders in each league in a 40-car field for the last 10 races. The rest of the teams will have a 10-race show-down in which the top car will get a seat at the banquet and prizes as determined.

5. Now, here’s the kicker…At certain times of the year (Daytona 500[which will continue with its own qualification system], Indy, Bristol (fall race), The 600, a road course [these are suggestions, the promoters will know better], The top 20 of each league at that time, will come together to race for non-point glory. This will allow the media and the fans to compare and contrast those of separate leagues. For the teams, these races will determine seeding in the chase. The rest of the teams will take a week off to race elsewhere, work on their set-ups, or go fishin’, their choice.

SYNOPSIS: This simple format will expand the racing significantly. The number of teams can grow to 70; or 86, with the field-fillers, without crowding the serious contender. The number of tracks will increase as there will be 2 races every week of the season. The opportunities for local teams will grow with the added room in the field.

The fodder for the media will be so large that stories won’t need to be manufactured, as the speculations of who’s gonna be in which league, which league is the strong one, how would a team in one league fair against one in the other league.

And for us fans, the possibility of two races every weekend, at venues possibly nearer to our home, and the media actually reporting on racing instead of attendance is a dream I can’t wait to see.

Bill B
07/22/2013 07:29 PM

Sounds like you are a Joey fan. You make some good points. Still, the driver is the one out there so that is where people’s ire will be directed. The driver is the face of the team.

Yes, NW drivers do say they like going up against cup drivers as a gauge of their own talents. Still, I think most of them would at least like half the races to be NW regulars only. You’ll never hear them say this because it would piss off NASCAR but come on, common sense tells you these NW drivers would like more wins and that just isn’t happening with all the cup stars out there.

Lastly, you do know Logano drives for Penske and not Gibbs, right?

Bill B
07/22/2013 07:42 PM

The racing is already less than optimal. Ratings and attendance are terrible compared to 5 years ago. Do you really think splitting the talent pool will bring more fans in? I can’t speak for everyone but I know I’d definitely stop caring. That would be one way to make “the chase”, “The Chase” because as far as most fans would be concerned, it would be a 10 race season.

07/22/2013 08:53 PM

Yes, Bill..I am a fan and a fan of others. I am just tired of this debate of Cuppers in NW. Lets look at the arguement of young talent in NW. How many?? A dozen and a half? You have the old start and park crew..You got alot of Mike Wallaces (who I do not begrudge a paycheck) You have the Cuppers, you have the JGR stable with former Cuppers Sadler and Vickers (who goes to the show on occasion)and the Cuppers that regularly drive for him in NW. JGR now seems to have a non existent developement program at the NW level. So if we truly went with “young talent” how many would actually be able to race day in and out and how many spectators would pay that money? Owners and sponsors have the final word and if your boss says race you race. Blaming the driver for doing his job and getting mad he won is the sign of an immature fan who doesn’t get it. No athlete would want someone to hand them anything, but yet around the web, some are mad that Logano didn’t let Hornish win..silly. I wouldn’t consider Sam a newbie to the sport either.

07/22/2013 09:04 PM

Sorry, Bill..I am aware of who Logano drives for. I trying to make the point that the biggest powerhouse in NW (Gibbs Racing) hasn’t had a real young talent stick around their program for awhile. They seem to have disgarded that mindset in recent years, they sign em’ up and they do not last long in the NW program at Gibbs. The only one in recent memory was Logano. They have seasoned guys driving their many NW cars currently. Thanks!

07/22/2013 09:05 PM

Sorry, Bill..I am aware of who Logano drives for. I trying to make the point that the biggest powerhouse in NW (Gibbs Racing) hasn’t had a real young talent stick around their program for awhile. They seem to have disgarded that mindset in recent years, they sign em’ up and they do not last long in the NW program at Gibbs. The only one in recent memory was Logano. They have seasoned guys driving their many NW cars currently. Thanks!

Go get em’ Johanna Long!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bill B
07/23/2013 07:16 AM

I’m not sure how having an opinion that I’d rather see fewer cup drivers in the NW series makes me an immature fan but I’ve been called worse. I see the big picture and I don’t like it nor do I think it’s right.

The Truth Rules
07/23/2013 05:01 PM

Simple, pick a series and run in it, stay out of the other series. It should go like this: The truck series is Kindergarten, if you are planning to move to 1st grade (Nationwide Series) the next year, you may enter up to 7 races to get acclimated to the 1st grade crowd, however, that is the maximum. Same way with 2nd grade (Sprint Cup.) If you cannot handle the grade you are in, you can step down back to the previous grade without running any more upgrade races! Simple, really!!!