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.
It's not easy to admit it when things just aren't the same.
Sometimes, you get in a rut where you appreciate something for so long you get blindsided when you wake up and realize things have gone terribly wrong. It's like being a fan of The Simpsons; people who followed the TV show and grew up with it like me have just kept watching the last few years, waiting for the moment when the show would turn funny again, until you realize you haven't laughed at a new episode since 2003. Then, you sit there in denial; you know the show's going to keep going for the next few years, at least, but things aren't the same anymore and you don't have the slightest idea how to fix it, wondering how and if it ever will be fixed.
I never thought that type of feeling would creep into my job, the coverage of a sport I've been fascinated with since I could write a complete sentence in second grade. But as I finish up my first year of traveling around the circuit, covering the sport as a rookie writer but with a NASCAR obsession that spans back seventeen yearsâ€¦I have to admit, I've got a Simpsons-like mentality creeping up on me.
I'm getting nervous NASCAR might really be in trouble.
All year, TV Ratings for what's become the No. 2 most watched sport in the country have been down. Significantly down; some weeks, viewership has decreased by over 10 percent. All summer and Fall, I've thought the explanation was simple; the TV contract is about to expire, and in the last year of a contract ratings always tend to dip; they did so back in 2000, the year before FOX and NBC took control of the rights. In 2001, Dale Earnhardt's death gave NASCAR national attention, ratings took off, and those struggles were a distant memory. Past history, to me, meant that a repeat performance of that situation wasn't such a stretch.
But 2006 is a different story. In 2000, there was criticism of leaving ESPN mixed with anticipation of the new opportunities FOX and NBC could bring to the sport. Dale Earnhardt, Sr. was making a run at his eighth title, mobilizing the old guard of fans while captivating those just discovering the sport we all know and love. In 2006, you don't have that same dynamic. It just feels differentâ€¦instead of building momentum under the surface for a new start in 2007, the sport feels like a wounded runner that's limping to the finish line at the end of a long marathon.
Criticism is always rampant in any sport, but you can't turn anywhere in the garage area today without getting an earful. An equal opportunity employer, this criticism comes roaring from all angles - the fans, the drivers, the crew chiefs, the owners. No one, it seems, is completely happy with the direction of the sport. Your name could be Jack Roush, Terry Labonte, or Joe Schmo the Fan - you're all saying the same thing in slightly different ways. And you're getting sick of talking to the wall.
I started to wise up to what was happening at Texas. Usually one of the most attended races of the season, the Lone Star State brings a crowd that can approach up to 200,000. The track boasts one of the premier promoters in the business, Eddie Gossage, on its staff; a man who learned his craft under Charlotte President Humpy Wheeler, Gossage could get you to come to a race between a cheetah and a snail - and make you believe the snail was going to win in a once-of-a-lifetime event you just had to see.
But all the promotion in the world wasn't getting the job done this time. Texas' crowd was reportedly announced at 165,000, but it certainly didn't seem like that many. Empty seats in both the Busch race and the Cup race were rampant. And this was at a track where, even with some questionable racing in past years, you'd think crowds would never abandon the product put out on the race track. They'd never abandon a sport they'd followed for yearsâ€¦would they?
Admittedly, this is one of those years where the NASCAR product being sold for public consumption looks more like the cheap toy at the dollar store you buy for your kid's birthday party. Occasionally, you find a diamond in the rough, but for the most part, what you buy gives out a few minutes of enjoyment before the kid finds it boring and throws it away; that is, if it lasts more than 5 minutes without breaking into tiny little pieces. So many races this year have followed this same pattern; little bursts of excitement followed by single file boredom to the point "debris" cautions get thrown to bunch up the field. I still maintain that speed is the issue; too many of these tracks have gotten too fast for the cars to run side-by-side with this handling package. Others claim the Chase is the problem (and we'll get to that). But whatever the reason, the quality of the product on the track is suffering. At Texas, you could count the number of green flag passes on the lead with one hand. That's one of those Loop Stats NASCAR doesn't want you to see.
Of course, there's far more being criticized than just racing quality. The Car of Tomorrow has been hit from all angles : you could fill a library with all the complaints filed so far with the powers that be. Anything from "The templates change too much" to "It's causing us unncecessary work" to "It doesn't cost less" to "the safety features could be added to the car we have now;" it's a load of dirty laundry that would leave any mom intimidated. But the most telling criticism coming from everywhere is that the quality of racing isn't better, that the dreaded "aero push" and "aero loose" are still a part of the new car. If that's even close to being the case, NASCAR needs to, has to investigate those concerns. It's bad enough the new cars don't look street stock anymore; I think fans can adjust to that, but if they lose the "stock" in "stock cars" and they don't see the quality of racing improve dramatically with the new carâ€¦there's going to be a backlash. Yet, NASCAR seems ruggedly determined to push ahead with the new car template, even pushing at one point this Fall to run them in more than the sixteen races currently announced.
Then, there's the new culture of the Chase for the Championship. While the playoffs have created an atmosphere where more than two or three cars are eligible to win the title each year, it's becoming painfully evident by year three that the system rewards who has the best luck over who has the best car. The ten teams nominated for title contention couldn't let the black cat walk in front of their car fast enough in 2006, making them even more fearful of racing aggressively in their quest to assert themselves on top of the standings. Meanwhile, the sport's defending champion has been making a mockery of the whole process after failing to make the Chase, scoring more points and winning more races than anyone during the playoffs while claiming he'd do nowhere near as well if he had to utilize the "strategy" involved of competing for this championship. Inadvertently, Tony Stewart has let us all in on the secret of why the Chase is failing; it doesn't allow you to take risks. Isn't risk what racing is all about?
It's worth noting that the old point system discouraged risk-taking, too, but no one ever noticed it because only two people were eligible for the title down the stretch, or the point leader was so far ahead by the end of the season everyone running behind him HAD to take outrageous risks in order to try and catch up. But now, with the Chase system you've got ten people who are the center of attention during the race simply because they're eligible for the title; yet, the "strategy" they have to employ in order to win means they spend the majority of their days running like your grandmother on the Jersey Turnpike; just trying to get out of the way and hoping something bad doesn't happen. You don't need me to tell you that doesn't make for quality television.
Those two issues are just some of the problems NASCAR's preparing to handle in just one short week. Toyota's entrance in the sport. Rising ticket prices. The Top 35 rule. Clarifying pit road penalties. These are all things that should be on NASCAR's radar screen; yet, the biggest piece of news from the past week involved the sport's leader as the subject of a 911 call posted all over the internet, hitting both cars and a tree because of "coke spilling on his lap." NASCAR was quick to clarify the situation, claiming CEO Brian France had a perfectly good explanation and would be willing to commentâ€¦but no one's been willing to ask the tough questions, questions that would be denied regardless of guilt or innocence (I'm just as guilty; I haven't). Meanwhile, the police are busy investigating whether another famous person may have indeed gotten off the hook in what could have otherwise been a much more serious situation. Even if you assume the best, which you have toâ€¦one is always innocent until proven guiltyâ€¦this little incident isn't necessarily a confidence-builder that the sport's ready to handle the most important offseason it's had this decade.
Until then, there's a championship to decide and one more race to hope for the best until two and a half months where the racing calendar goes dark. That leaves time to heal criticism and rejuvenate attitudes for the coming year; but these problems aren't the kind that get shoved under the rug. I do believe in NASCAR enough to know that these are situations that are fixable. People that have been a part of this sport know that the recent history of NASCAR at its best is unmatched. But, at the same time, the sports highway of the past 50 years is littered with those that tried to challenge the popularity of the four major sports, having a short-term run of success only to lose focus and self-destruct. This offseason will do much to ensure things don't start heading in that direction for NASCAR.
Let's hope they make all the right choices.
©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Nascar is being run by a promotion, ‘bottom line’ guy…and it shows. Actually, it’s being run by the corporate sponsors and television, none of whom care about racing as much as making money. The problem with this outlook is that, if the ‘product’ (racing) suffers, they will see diminishing returns. We are already seeing the fallout of that attitude. Nascar assumed their ‘old’ fans would stay around no matter what, and has tried hard to accomodate a new market. Changes weren’t made to make the sport better, but to make more money, giving us ‘racertainment’. Nascar thinks that, no matter how convoluted or contrived, all they need is a ‘close’ points race to get people to watch. Ratings and attendance this year show how well that has worked. The COT is a way to give Nascar even more control, and one wonders how along ANY manufacturer will stay involved when their product has no connection to what’s on the track. Luckily, Nascar can still use their familiar acronym with modifications…National Association for Spec Car Auto Racing. The chase format has made it convenient for short attention span fans. Now, the first 26 races are basically irrelevant, so they don’t have to watch the tepid version of racing until the final 10 races.
Vroom…I like what you write about “luck” being a big factor regarding who wins the title, sad but true at this point.
Nascar is a great sport and fun to watch, ABC/ESPN will add a needed Punch (Jerry)...
Brian, its the racing stupid!
I said it several years ago – I’ll state it again…. NA$CAR really stand for Now All we Seriously Care About is Revenue….. I’ve watched hundreds if not thousands of races, been to more that 75 Cup races in the last 20 years, have spent more than I really want to acknowledge…. guess what, in about 2 weeks all that will come to an end. I’ve had enough… turn out the lights, bring the flag, I’m headed home. I’ll find another sport to follow… this one has become to much of a joke. MJRubley
NASCAR and professional wrestling have a lot in common with one exception. Professional wrestling doesn’t pretend to be a sport.
With the car of tomorrow, teams could change brands weekly if they wished. A changeover kit would be little more than an engine and decals. Wouldn’t it be interesting if a car owner actually did it.
I completely agree with everything you said and with Mark, also. My tickets will be gone next year because I had to pay for them a year in advance. I will be buying season tickets to ice hockey which is a much more exciting sport and doesn’t cost near as much. NASCAR is just not a real sport anymore.
So sad, but so true. And you didn’t even mention the
The chase for the chump points scam was, is & always will be nothing but a cheap, sleezy carnie gimmick that has turned what was the best racing in the world into just another stupid and irrelevent network sitcom. Add to this insult the demise of Rockingham and Darlington for that useless piece of real estate in California and the like, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why nobody is attending or watching. HRH Brian France wanted the “new” fans so bad that he consistently deficated all over the “old” fans and told us all in no uncertain terms that we can kiss his a$$. Now the new fans have grown tired of his BS series and the old fans quit his BS series a long time ago. NA$CAR is getting exactly what they deserve and HRH Brian can now kiss our collective a$$es for a change. NA$CAR racing is dead. It sold its soul for a buck and a yin. Good riddance. We won’t be back.
If I wanted to watch a commercial with occasional race breaks, I’d watch QVC. Look at the commercials, they are the evidence of the end of NASCAR. One more Kasey Kahne commercial with the bimbos and I’m out.
I liked Mark R’s acronym for NASCAR. I use “Need Another Sport Cause this Ain’t Racing”.
They even ruined Bristol cause everyone was walking on eggshells in August not wanting to miss the Chase. My Bristol season tickets are for sale. Anyone interested?
WOW! You forgot one item? The price of food & drinks at the track? I went to Atlanta(free ticket @ $115.00), my first race in 3 years, I use to go 3-5 times a year, but NASCAR sucks thesedays! CHEESEBURGER $6, FRIES $3 & SOFT DRINK $4 = $13.00 PER PERSON, OUCH!!!! I’m single, how can a family of 4 “buy” 4 tickets and eat at the track? Most people get locked up for robbery? I’m glad I brought along several snacks, because I didn’t/wouldn’t buy a thing and help support these CROOKS! I was in the fastfood business(partner/owner) for 23 years and I know their food cost is about $1.20 plus labor cost of about $1.00 = $2.20 and they’re charging $13.00? DOMINO’S was selling small pizzas for $16.00, they cost $5.95 here in town for self pick-up! Anyways, good article!
Scott P, you are correct. I didn’t know anyone else noticed, what was once the best race on the circuit, Bristol. My question was, what happened to the Bristol race? It was a joke. No racing, no banging. No nothing except follow the leader. I thought I was watching the Fontana, Ca. show. It was pathetic!
First off, great article Tom..second, Sal, I love your version of NASCAR:“National Association for Spec Car Auto Racing”. The Car of Tomorrow has been a sore point since it was first brought to the table for me. It seems that NASCAR is coming up with another IROC series with the COT. I’m not blind to the fact that over the years we were just about there but this is pretty bad..I agree with safety and all that but I find it hard to believe that NASCAR is making the COT due to safety concerns or to relieve the finacial burden of car owners. NASCAR doesn’t do anything without it helping their bottom line. I, like a few others that posted here was pretty letdown by Bristol this year. Thanks to the “Chase” we’ve now made it so all the drivers/teams now are either afraid to take a risk for fear of getting knocked out of the Chase or are afraid of knocking someone out of a possible Chase position. Guys, here’s a secret..its racing..get in, push the “Go” pedal down and see if you can beat the other drivers who are pushing the “Go” pedal down. Interesting too are some of the responces regarding not watching NASCAR anymore or NASCAR being somewhat like Wrestling..minus the tights. Just yesterday my wife who has followed NASCAR for some years said that this year she didn’t really follow it all that mush as its basically turned into wrestling. The Race for the Chase, Mysterious debris cautions, NASCAR playing the “grounds hog day” approach to their rulings..(reference to the movie), all of these type of things plus more has gotten my wife to stop following the sport..how many others has this happened to?
Great article. I’ll be attending the Homestead-Miami race — it will be the last NASCAR race I attend. I also have no intention of watching NASCAR anymore after this year.
It’s mostly boring watching the races, and NASCAR has changed too much in recent years in ways I don’t think is good.
Allowing Toyota to enter NASCAR will likely be the final nail in the coffin for NASCAR racing — fans won’t stay, and I believe car owners won’t stay either.
The Emperor Wears No Clothes and Rome wasn’t built in one day. Or, so the stories go.
I can’t help but wonder what’s going through Bill France’s head as he watches his father’s creation crumble. I’d pay a king’s ransome to read a candid interview with Brian’s daddy.
The light at the end of the tunnel grows dimmer. Could that be an indication that the best course of action at this point would be to turn around and go back to where the journey began?
It seems the Sun is setting on NA$CAR. Will we see the Land Of The Rising Sun buy what remains as a turn key operation?
I rest my case. Wishin’ I was wrong.
Excellent article Thomas. I feel your pain.
You make some very good points in your article. It just seems to me that the sport has gotten more and more superficial because it is all about entertainment. The same thing has happened in other sports.
For now, I’ll keep watching NASCAR, but I can see how the sport is moving away from true racing. It’s funny, however, that we read people posting comments that they are done with the sport. If they are done, why are they reading these articles and posting on the subject? There must be some element of interest.
You have summed up NASCAR’s demise very nicely. The only thing that I can say is that disgruntled or former NASCAR fans need to go back to real racing at their local Saturday night tracks. There are no commericals, no drivers so absorbed with selling product that they cannot say what they think and Praise God!!! No one taking the obligatory (pay my favorite charity) Coke sip on camera. Racing around the country is still great – 100 to 200 laps of door to door I have to race to pay my tire bill competition. Grandstand costs $12 to $20 per adult (depending upon the magnitude of the event). Saturday night short track racing is real and genuine and is exactly what NASCAR was before Brian France turned it into a marketing circus instead of the true sport it really is.
Until this year, I was a NASCAR hater. I really enjoy auto racing, but I REALLY hate ovals. Not to mention “stock cars” that aren’t stock. NASCAR’s novelty to me was always that they used cars that at least resembled vehicles you could buy at a dealership. That stopped being the case long ago, and while there are series that continue to do this (SCCA for instance), NASCAR is no longer amongst those ranks. (When was the last time you bought a car with a carb on it??)
At any rate, this year I started dating a girl who is a huge NASCAR fan. I’ve begrudgingly watched quite a few of the races, I even went to the second race at Martinsville, and my opinions have moved from “it’s awful in every way” to “it’s awful in most ways”.
My issues stack up thusly:
1. The racing just isn’t exciting. Too many breaks in the action, too much emphasis on luck vs. skill (pit “strategies”), lucky dog, etc. I don’t feel at the end of the race that the best driver/car/team won. They want side by side racing, but the cars aren’t built or designed to handle well enough at the speeds they are going to allow that. Not to mention driving land yachts around any track will limit the number of cars you can fit side by side on a track.
2. The rampant commercialism. I know it goes across every form of racing, but for some reason NASCAR is by far the worst. Every piece of clothing, every item you can possibly buy, is plastered with advertising. Why people actually PAY to advertise for a company is beyond me. Not only do you watch a freaking 3 hour advertisement from start to finish, you also have to deal with a ton of commercials during that commercial. Even the world cup managed to get whole games shown advertising-free. Why can’t NASCAR??
3. Ovals. Dear god. Stab me in the eye. Even in person, the first 20 laps or so are tolerable, and the last 20 laps are fairly exciting, but the middle 300 I could do entirely without. The only thing remotely entertaining during that time is the accidents. I enjoy road courses so much more, and it can lead to some very exciting racing. I think there was a Busch race earlier this year with Robby Gordon and someone else that I was actually damn excited to watch.
4. The Busch series. What’s the point of this entire series? Aren’t these basically cup cars with different engines? Aren’t like half the drivers now cup drivers? If the cup season is getting watered down on it’s own, I can’t imagine that another 30some races will help any. Keep the cup drivers in cup (except maybe “rookies” for a few years), and let the new guys earn their wings in Busch series.
Things I’ve learned to enjoy about NASCAR:
There really are some great drivers, and great racing minds in NASCAR. Tony Stewart, Jeff and Robby Gordon, Jimmy Johnson, and their crew chiefs are as good as anybody in any form of racing. They are crippled by the rules, and by cars that would be better either at a drag strip or cruising on the interstate than track racing, but they are legitimately good racing people.
Full contact racing. For some reason most likely related to the fact that the aero on the cars means next to nothing, especially on shorter tracks, they don’t mind hitting each other. This is marginally exciting, but after a while it gets pretty “meh”. I’d rather see exciting, clean racing, than boring, dirty racing.
I’ve gotten to the point where I’m a grudgingly casual NASCAR fan. To me it’s akin to Professional Wrestling, really, and as a “sport” I give it about as much credibility. It’s really a soap opera on wheels. The France’s complete and dictatorial control over the sport makes it look even worse. Mid-season (or sometimes even mid-race) rules changes, undefined penalties for the “violation” of nebulous rules – it all makes NASCAR look like a playground gathering of kids as opposed to a professional racing league. I suppose that’s true to it’s origins, but that seems about all that remains of NASCAR’s great heritage.
Count me in as one long time nascar fan that is starting to tune out. I gave up my yearly trips to Michigan this year because of growing disinterest in the poor racing that i’ve seen and the extremely high costs associated with attending a race. Nascar needs to adust it’s points standings so we’re not forced to watch someone just ride around thinking of the big picture rather than actually trying to win a race. yeah, that’s what i want to pay big money to see, someone half-a$$ it, more worried about points than winning. also, the TV coverage is horrible. we’re forced to watch a battle between cars running, say, 10th and 11th, in the final laps because they’re Chase contenders and we see nothing of the guy actually leading the race.
Good story,Tom.I totaly agree with everything you said.I’ve been a fan for most of my 38yrs,& used to go to 2-4 races a year.The cost to go any more is just crazy.I’ve been saying for the past 4-5yrs that we have seen the pintical of of the sport & its down hill from here baby.They keep trying to get tracks out west & New York area where I see empty seats & blow off a great track like Kentucky who always seels out bush & truck races,how stupid is that.Also agree with Scott about Bristol,been going there for 11yrs now & not sure how much longer i’ll be going there,I keep thinking its going to get beter,but with the race in WINTER not spring in the hills of Tennesse thats just f-ing stupid! Also the fact that I’am forced to buy bush tickets.A buddy of mine could not go in auguest,& I could not sell his ticket ,that should tell you something about the direction the sport is headed.5yrs ago I was offered 250 $‘s for my cup ticket.
Personally, the whole thing has gotten too PC. If you find the cause of that, however, you end up right back at the dollar sign. Everyone has to play nice for the sponsors.
Money, money, money. NASCAR is just another thing that can chalk its ruination up to money—-the root of all evil.
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