So what’s this SRX thing?
Two months following its announcement, Superstar Racing Experience has now announced four drivers for its 12-car series.
SRX is a new venture that will begin next summer from the minds of Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham. The stated goal of the series is to be the new International Race of Champions and fit it into a modern-day package.
Evernham has designed a racecar that will be adaptable enough to where it will be able to run on dirt tracks, short tracks and road courses. The first season will have six races on Saturday nights over the summer months next year. This isn’t is a great idea, as Saturday nights are where TV shows go to die in the ratings, especially in the summertime. 2021’s summer may actually be even worse than it usually is, as a number of people have moved all of their events/vacations back a year due to COVID-19.
The biggest bullet SRX has in its barrel is the fact that it has a CBS live television deal. TV is the most important factor for any start-up sports company. Racing has series like World of Outlaws with little-to-no traditional TV coverage that do just fine, but WoO isn’t going to be moving out of its bubble anytime soon.
Taking the Saturday night thing into account, I’m curious as to what the deal looks like from a financial standpoint. When the XFL relaunched last spring, it had two serious television deals with Fox Sports and ESPN/ABC. However, the league did not get any payment on either deal, with Fox/Disney only paying for production of their broadcasts.
Instead, what then-owner Vince McMahon had planned for the league was for it to lose a lot of money in the short term (McMahon reportedly had earmarked $300 million in losses for the three years of its initial television deal) and build the league an audience/name, with the goal of cashing in a big-dollar media rights agreement after the 2022 season.
McMahon’s gamble did not pay off, thanks in large part to the COVID-19 outbreak ending the season just five weeks in. Is SRX following this idea, with CBS paying for broadcast production and nothing else? Or is it following the more traditional sports model of the live gate being the primary revenue source for the company?
What does NASCAR think of SRX?
NASCAR’s response to all of this will be interesting. SRX has stressed constantly that it is not competing with NASCAR, while NASCAR has remained quiet as it works on just finishing 2020 out in the midst of the pandemic. At the same time, a lot of what SRX has stressed, mainly a focus on short-track racing, seems to be a response to what the industry giant has been doing on a national level for decades now.
Ultimately, NASCAR’s response to SRX may not come until years down the road. If SRX bombs but CBS likes enough of what it saw that it enters the NASCAR TV rights war for 2025 and beyond, Stewart basically becomes a Junior Johnson-tier NASCAR legend. If SRX is a success but CBS dumps it for NASCAR in the summer, NASCAR is still happy.
But if a scenario arrives where SRX turns into a big success, with many of its top drivers being legends that NASCAR helped build, and CBS decides to ignore NASCAR in favor of the upstart down the road, that won’t go over well in Daytona Beach. As big as NASCAR’s television deals are, remember that they could have been way bigger than they were. The reason for this is because Fox and NBC were the only companies interested in a deal after ESPN dropped out and Time Warner decided that TNT would be fine showing the same five movies whenever the NBA isn’t on. Just one more company to play off of in negotiations would have led to even more money being dumped into the sport from media rights.
So there are definitely ways in which SRX ends up immensely helping NASCAR out. There’s also a way where it inadvertently costs NASCAR a lot of money. Right now, short of removing the Eldora Speedway race from the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series schedule and a NASCAR driver ban being implemented, there’s not much NASCAR can do to tangibly respond to SRX. The real battle is going to be in those negotiations in three years.
Is testing legal now?
This week, DGM Racing’s appeal to NASCAR’s penalties for testing a racecar was heard, and it was decided that there will be no penalties after all.
The penalty for testing by Labbe/DGM has been rescinded. pic.twitter.com/fAzqRo1EBG
— Bozi Tatarevic (@BoziTatarevic) August 12, 2020
Last week, I wrote that while I love the choose lane rule, it’s not typically a great thing for NASCAR to just make a radical change like that midway through the season. In this case, however, NASCAR really needs to close whatever loophole that the team used to get around the no-testing rule.
It’s unclear what what argued by the team in its appeal that forced the turnover. There are a couple of theories as to what kind of loopholes were argued. Regardless, I still stand by what I wrote last week: this goes against the spirit of competition, and just because it was ruled as legal on a technicality, that doesn’t mean the action was the right thing to do.
This has set a very dangerous precedent until that loophole is closed by the sanctioning body. While the smaller teams really are not going to have enough time to find ways to test for the rest of this season, with the general lack of off-weekends over these next 13 weeks, I can guarantee at least one bigger team is going to take advantage of this ruling.
Is this going to be a disaster?
Big changes to the Turns 13 & 14 chicane on the @DISupdates road-course came to @iRacing today.
The normal curbs have been replaced by more turtle curbs, essentially making working the curbs to help rotate the cars impossible. Guessing this will be reflected in real life? 🧐 pic.twitter.com/tkD8bH3qi2
— Evan Posocco🎙️ (@evanposocco) August 13, 2020
So, the Daytona International Speedway road course. While NASCAR was scheduled to run its non-points Busch Clash event there next season, there were probably at least some expectations as far as testing and practice at the track goes. Now, not only will there be no tests or practices for stock cars prior to that first event, but there are also going to be four events there in one weekend.
The ARCA Menards Series is going to be a complete disaster this weekend. If somebody doesn’t apply ARCA brakes heading into turn 1, it might be time to go buy a couple of lottery tickets. The Xfinity Series race will probably be OK with so many road course ringers in the field now, but Sunday’s Truck Series race may also be crazy.
The one race where the lack of track time really won’t be a factor is Cup. A lot of these big Cup teams have spent probably dozens of hours now on their simulators, getting their drivers accustomed to the racetrack. And everybody in that field would have had three races to watch and over 100 drivers to lean on how to run the track by that that point. No, the big variable for Cup is going to be the weather.
Wednesday of this week marked the 64-year anniversary of the first, and so far only, Cup race held on a wet racetrack. The event, also the only Cup race ever held at Road America, was the final win in Tim Flock’s Hall-of-Fame career.
There’s a chance for rain on Sunday, and Goodyear has brought rain tires to the track this weekend. After 64 years of dryness and amid rumors of Road America possibly being in the running for a Cup race again, an August NASCAR race at the Daytona road course in the rain would be right about on schedule for this year.
A completely random event like this deserves a completely random winner. Ty Dillon is going to break through and win the first race in his Cup career, because screw it. 2020 deserves a Ty Dillon win at this rate.