NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Four Burning Questions: Speedweeks Edition

*Why are the SpeedWeeks activities so confusing?*

Whether it’s the yearly changes to the Budweiser Shootout—which, thankfully, are coming to an end next season—or the confounded way the Daytona 500 lineup is decided, it takes a team of scientists and a whole notebook to keep up with all of the rules.

Thankfully, for the most part, the rules for the Duels haven’t changed much recently, but that doesn’t make them any easier to follow. I’ve been following NASCAR for several years now and I always have to revisit the whole process between regular time trials and the duels. Even then, I’m still typically left scratching my head by the time the whole thing is said and done. It’s an interesting enough concept, because of all the tracks on the schedule, qualifying probably means less at Daytona than at any other track (excluding Talladega).

Bottom line, tradition or not, the rules for the starting lineup could use some tweaking, and my first suggestion is getting rid of the top 35 rule. That would add drama to what is supposed to be an impactful pair of races since not even the big name drivers would be locked in. It would be much easier to keep track of who was in and who was out, which is the way it should be.

Speaking of the Duels…

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Fans look forward to the Gatorade Duel races so why are they run when everyone is at work?

*Why are the Duels on a Thursday afternoon?*

Before anyone runs to the comments section, yes I know that it fits in the schedule better because there are races Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I understand that there probably isn’t much time to fit them in elsewhere.

That is, unless, NASCAR makes room. Regardless of whether or not the starting lineup has much of an impact on the actual race, ask any diehard race fan if they plan on watching the Duels and they would say yes. Unfortunately, many of them would probably be unable to do so because it’s in the middle of a workday. If it has to be on a Thursday, can’t it be sometime in the evening when more people would be off work? Heck, just schedule it for Friday afternoon around the same time most qualifying sessions are run during the regular season anyway. My point is, if it’s such an important event, then it should be run at a time when more of NASCAR’s core fan base can actually be home to witness it.

*Can 2012 live up to the standards set in 2011?*

Let’s be honest. Even our grouchiest readers have to admit that 2011 was a pretty exciting season. You couldn’t have asked for a tighter championship battle, more first time winners, and exciting racing. If you did, now would be the time to say goodbye to your NASCAR viewing days because you will unlikely see a season better than last year.

Which leads me to wonder if it’s possible that 2012 will be anything but a disappointment. After all of the first time winners last year, there are only a couple drivers who have yet to make it to Victory Lane in their career. Realistically, A.J. Allmendinger is the only one who can actually make something come of that, but otherwise the “first time winners” storyline will most likely be devoid in 2012.

It’s also impossible for the championship battle to be any closer than it was last year. The best it can do is match it, and considering that 2011 was the first time two drivers tied for championship, that’s unlikely. I’m not saying 2012 will be a terrible season, but any new fans 2011 drew in will have some high expectations that this year may not be able to meet. Here’s hoping!

*How long will Kurt Busch keep up this nice guy act?*

Last Saturday night after a rough time in the Budweiser Shootout, Busch gave an interview that was so corporate and well-spoken, it would have made Jimmie Johnson green with envy had he seen it. In other words, it was a far cry from the foul-mouthed character that cost him a ride after the end of last season. He almost seemed like a new person!

Which is exactly why it won’t last. While it was certainly a noticeable difference, it wasn’t real. Busch’s smile and energy seemed forced and fake. Everyone saw right through it and, just like last year when his brother was saying and doing the same things, eventually Busch is going to blow up and cause even more conflict either on the track or within his own organization. It’s only a matter of time, and the countdown starts Sunday afternoon when the green flag falls.

“Contact Summer Dreyer”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/28526/

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