Are non-chartered NASCAR teams a bad thing for the sport?
Two weeks ago, a major debate erupted on Twitter that you may or may not have missed. And that’s somewhat fair if you did; it wasn’t a matter of life or death, and last month was already a pretty big month for NASCAR between the reports of the Frances looking to sell it off and the restrictor plate package in the All-Star Race.
Still, it’s a topic worth discussion and it hasn’t aged badly since it first came up.
In the week before the Coca-Cola 600, former Team Xtreme owner John Cohen announced his return to NASCAR with a new entry called NY Racing Team and became the 41st car entered for the race at the time. Rob Kauffman, a minority owner in Chip Ganassi Racing and the president/founder of the RTA (as well as a former partner in Michael Waltrip Racing), voiced his displeasure on Twitter.
— rob kauffman (@kauffmanrob) May 22, 2018
When pressed on the issue by a fan, Kauffman responded with:
— rob kauffman (@kauffmanrob) May 22, 2018
Putting aside everything else he said, let’s make one thing crystal clear: there’s no way that the money being used to pay non-chartered teams can create a worthwhile retirement/disability fund. That would take millions upon millions of dollars, and there’s no way NASCAR is paying that much money to the non-charter teams.
In fact, it’s doubtful NASCAR is paying these teams much of anything. If they were, we’d see more teams other than StarCom Racing wheeling out second cars to take up spots on the grid.
Kauffman claims that teams shouldn’t just come out and compete against the Dallas Cowboys. But his idea that team owners follow the same ladder that drivers do just isn’t practical. The only race team that won their first Cup race in the past 10 years that fielded notable XFINITY Series/ARCA teams before they competed on the Cup level was JTG Daugherty Racing.
No, it turns out that the best way to be a team owner in NASCAR is to make a fortune somewhere else and then start a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team. Rick Hendrick, Roger Penske, Joe Gibbs and most of the rest of the owners started their stock car race teams in Cup. Lack of experience in other NASCAR series didn’t stop them from succeeding at the sport’s highest level. Kauffman himself entered Cup this way by buying into MWR.
Should the entire Cup field be of chartered teams? It doesn’t really matter. A team needs one to make money, but with the value of the charters getting lower and lower seemingly every season with how many spring up on the open market after Homestead-Miami Speedway, a team doesn’t need to jump through that many hurdles to get one.
Is it time for Ryan Newman to panic?
The good news for Ryan Newman is that he isn’t completely out of the playoff picture just yet — and he won’t be as long as he’s still in the top 30 in points come Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
But the bad news is, well, everything else.
Taking his first two part-time seasons out of the equation, Newman is on pace for career lows in average finish, lead-lap finishes, and DNFs. His lone top-10 finish outside of the two restrictor plate races was 10th at Bristol Motor Speedway.
This is a team that has been prized for consistency; it almost won a championship not too long ago without winning any races. But now look at it.
The No. 31 will need to take some risks at the more strategy heavy racetracks coming up on the calendar, like the two road courses or the other Pocono Raceway race. Unless there’s a major turnaround over the next few weeks, it’s unlikely it’ll be able to point its way back into the postseason and is instead going to need another surprise win to get in.
Who are the contenders at Michigan International Speedway?
Kyle Larson is really good at Michigan. Like, really, really good.
Larson is riding a streak of three straight victories at the 2-mile track just a couple of hours away from Detroit. In that same timeframe, Larson also won a race at Michigan’s sister track, Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
There will be some contenders on Sunday besides Larson, however. Chase Elliott had two great runs there last year, finishing second in the first race and eighth in the second. Martin Truex Jr. contended for wins in both of those races, but just couldn’t close the deal against Larson. Also, Brad Keselowski had a stage win in the second race.
Will four-man TV booths become the norm in NASCAR?
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been doing a lot of press over the past week for NBC’s coverage of NASCAR, which begins next month at Chicagoland Speedway. It had been a mystery as to just what his role would be at NBC, as, after all, the network already employs Steve Letarte and Jeff Burton to analyze the race in the booth with lap-by-lap announcer Rick Allen.
Earnhardt finally confirmed both his role and the fate of everybody else on Twitter a few days ago.
Everyone’s in the booth. I’ll be talking when the others aren’t talking. Heck I may talk even when they are talking. Except when Rick talks. No one talks when Rick talks. https://t.co/2xzs7nyrjo
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) June 4, 2018
This seems like it’s going to be a complete mess. There’s going to be four people trying to talk over one another to cover the race, and the NBC booth in general has been a headache in recent years because Letarte apparently believes the best way to get his point across is to scream into his microphone.
Three-person booths in racing have long been the norm, and the FOX formula of having a former crew chief and a former driver was a major success for years as both analysts could give different viewpoints without being completely contrary in nature. Now, however, FOX has two drivers who have to take opposite views on certain issues, even when the answer is obvious. And unlike FOX, which moved its crew chief away from the main booth but not off the coverage entirely, NBC has decided to just have three different analysts with three usually wildly different viewpoints trying to share mic time with Allen, who unlike the other three has to actually call the race.
Hopefully Advil takes a cue from all this and sponsors somebody in the coming weeks.