The Frontstretch: Consistently Changing the Rules: An Obsession NASCAR Needs to Stop by S.D. Grady -- Tuesday February 8, 2011

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Three strikes and you’re out. Four balls and you take a base. Run around the bases, you score a run.

Get the ball into the end zone, score six points. Kick it through the uprights and add another point to your tally.

Drop the ball into the basket, get two. Shoot a free throw and get one. Shoot from behind the three-point line and earn three.

Gosh, those sound familiar. I have known these various sports scoring systems since I was a kid. I can still go to a football game and the points remain the same. I am not confused. I am not befuddled. In fact, the guy sitting next to me who has consumed a six-pack in the last hour could explain the whole rulebook, complete with the what-ifs of whatever game we might be enjoying that day.

How is this possible? I mean, isn’t there a rule in the commissioners’ offices that they have to mess with the rules every year? No? I am astounded. I am sure there must be, because every time I turn on the racing report, I am listening to Brian France tell me that in order to be consistent, NASCAR is changing…again. The points, qualifying, the playoff, the car, the fuel, the track, numbers…deep breath…owners, drivers, series, championships, locations, dates, times…they even attempted to leave the country a time or two. In order to keep it all straight, there’s even a website dedicated to all this nonsense called Jayski’s Silly Season Site.

Why is there this odd compulsion to scramble my brains in the stock car world? Well, I know who the sanctioning body is blaming. Me. That’s right. The fan. Just about every change NASCAR has implemented in the last few years has been heralded with an announcement saying, “The fans wanted this. We listened. And now it’s better.”

The only happy people to see the NASCAR wing were officials who kept their jobs micromanaging the crews who used them, measuring their lengths … and ultimately removing them just three years after they were created.

Except it’s not! It’s just a shell game! They put the wing on to draw in the Tuners. They took it off because the NASCAR fans thought it was ugly. Really? Ugly is a reason to change a physical aspect of a competition machine? I think football uniforms, with all the pads and helmets look ugly. I don’t think the NFL is gonna come up with something more aesthetically pleasing, do you? If the fans of the MLB started a petition decrying the lack of strikes in an out, would they change it? For real?

This constant rewriting of the unseen rulebook stinks of several things: desperation, incompetence and fear. None of those are becoming of a sport that loves to wallow in its own history. It’s more like an indication of a lack of self-worth. Now Mr. France and company have decided that whatever they do, it should be made simple. Easy.

May I have a show of hands on who was confused by how the points were calculated for the past thirty years?

Yeah, that’s what I figured. We were all good. We weren’t confused. We weren’t stupid. If one of our friends decided to watch a few races with us, we explained the rules of our sport to them—just as our parents instructed us on infield fly rules, traveling and offsides.

All this meddling leaves me with a single conclusion: somebody else not sitting among the NASCAR faithful is lost. Somebody wants this sport to be something it’s not, so he sent it off to the plastic surgeon once more. And as we all know, you can make something look good, but it ain’t gonna fix what’s inside.

What works for NASCAR? Green flags, big engines, fast cars, going left and fans that are addicted to the noise and grease. Everything else is just icing. Last time I checked, icing is just for looks. The good stuff is underneath. And I beg of Mr. France…leave it alone! I actually look forward to having my cake and eating it, too.

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Tuesday on the Frontstretch:
5 Points to Ponder: Gordon Regroups, Two’s Trouble for Penske, Red Bull, And Nationwide’s Winless Champ?
Five Questions For 2011: #2, Does NASCAR TV Need To Be Fixed?
Eleven NASCAR Wishes For 2011
Talking NASCAR TV: 2011 Preview Of What You’ll See

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


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02/08/2011 10:13 AM

In motorsports things have to change year to year. You see that in all major racing series, but at times NASCAR goes too far. Hopefully, they just stick with this system till 2014 when they can get rid of the Chase and stop the constant changes to the point system.

Bill B
02/08/2011 12:30 PM

If NASCAR ever decides on a format and it doesn’t change for 10+ years, all these years where they were monkeying around with the points will have asterisks after them.

Also, while NASCAR may claim it’s the fans driving the changes let’s get real, it’s tv (FOX, ESPN and TNT) as well as the series sponsor (Sprint, Nextel, etc.). The fans liked things fine the way they were in 2003. Although people complained over various aspects of the sport, there was never as large a consensus for any specific attribute of the rules as there is for the anti-chase sentiment.

02/08/2011 03:03 PM

The BEST part of all, is brian france saying that the fans wanted more emphasis on winning, as he announced a new points system that made winning less important than ever!!! Classic brian france, what else could be said? At least last season thaere was a (measly) ten points up for grabs with a win.

It gets even better having people tell us that they like the racing better today than in the ’90s, when EVERYBODY knows that they didn’t watch in the ’90s.

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