NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Friday Faceoff: Should NASCAR Change the Number Placements?

Brad Keselowski is reportedly considering joining Roush Fenway Racing with a potential ownership stake. Would it be a good move?

Luken Glover: It is hard to see Brad Keselowski leave Team Penske. If he wants immediate results for the next couple of years, Penske is the place to stay. However, a couple of factors could play into it. Keselowski is 37 years old with a championship now, a sure bet to make the Hall of Fame. He would like to win more titles in his career; that’s a given. Tony Stewart was nearly the exact same age when he teamed with Gene Haas to form Stewart-Haas Racing. Another factor is the implementation of the Next Gen car. This car is expected to level the competition and cut costs. It would likely not be a long process to get Roush back to the front. Keselowski has the money and the knowledge to do so. If he wants to stay a perennial title contender, Penske is the better option. But if he’s looking to add to his career legacy, this may not be a bad move.

Daniel McFadin: RFR is nowhere near the frontrunner it was during the 2000s and early 2010s. Meanwhile, Penske is a perennial title contender. If the reports are accurate, it’s possible Keselowski thinks he’s gotten all he can out of his tenure there. He’s been upfront about his desire to own a Cup team. So if RFR can give him that option over Penske, then yes. But competition-wise, it’s not appealing.

Jared Haas: The driver-owner dynamic has been making a comeback since being almost extinct during the early 2000s. Keselowski might look to go that route with RFR as Stewart did in 2009. Before Keselowski won it in 2012, Penske never won a NASCAR title; Keselowski has proven that he can make a team championship-winning. Stewart took a team like Haas CNC Racing in 2008 that was failing to qualify for races to winning championships, Keselowski can do the same with RFR, which may be a piece or two away from competing for wins. While Keselowski has been a big supporter of Fords, RFR would make the most sense if Keselowski would move to a new team in 2022. Keselowski is not going to Hendrick Motorsports, and Joe Gibbs Racing does not have room right now.

Rob Tiongson: Absolutely, it would be a great move for Keselowski. At this point in his storied Cup career, Keselowski can have more input and power on what will take place at RFR with his ownership stake. Moreover, having this team in the hands of a Michigan native seems like an absolute win-win scenario. It’s quite clear that Penske is thinking long term with Austin Cindric waiting in the wings and Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano constantly battling for wins. If there’s a person who can revitalize RFR, a team that is making strides, but can do so in an exponential way, it is Keselowski.

Josh Roller: This move would be a win for a number of parties. It’s a win for NASCAR as it gets another new younger owner. It is a win for RFR because of Keselowski’s track record and increased chances to attract new sponsorship. It gives Keselowski security and accomplishes his desire to return to an ownership role. That’s something he has wanted since Brad Keselowski Racing ceased operations in 2017. I’ve been skeptical of his return to Penske since the beginning of 2021, especially after his Daytona 500 post-race interview. I believe the desire has always been to get Cindric to Penske and to keep Matt DiBenedetto in the No. 21 for Wood Brothers Racing.

See also
Did You Notice?: Winners & Losers If Brad Keselowski Buys Into Roush Fenway Racing

Buy or sell: Hendrick Motorsports as the best team in the NASCAR Cup Series this year.

Tiongson: Buy. Yes, JGR has five wins and holds the top two spots in the points thus far. Still, Hendrick has incredible depth and balance with four young racers who have been in the mix most race weekends. It has a road course specialist and short track ace in Chase Elliott, intermediate track enthusiasts in Kyle Larson and William Byron and a closer in Alex Bowman. The team has been executing on these show-up-and-race weekends this year. The question will be which of these four makes it to Phoenix to chase after Hendrick’s 14th Cup championship.

McFadin: Hard sell. JGR has five wins and controls two of the top three spots in the points.

Roller: Buy. Combined, the four cars at Hendrick have been the fastest, most consistent and have had more cars in a single race threatening to win than all other organizations. Once Elliott can get that season-breakthrough victory, watch out.

Haas: Hold. Hendrick has improved by leaps and bounds with what it was last year. But the Toyotas of JGR has been very competitive, leading more laps than Hendrick. In 2021, Hendrick has overperformed Penske, but JGR has proven it can dominate races just as much. I would buy more if Bowman can have performances as he did at Dover International Speedway and Elliott can close the deal and win some races.

Glover: I’m taking that deal. JGR has more wins so far and Martin Truex Jr. is arguably the title favorite. But all around, Hendrick is firing on all cylinders. Byron is second in points with a historic 11-race top-10 streak. Larson is dominating races and just one click away from winning consecutive races. Bowman now has two wins to his credit despite his poor luck. And Elliott is finally starting to find his groove with some strong-for-him tracks coming up.

Some race tracks will allow a full capacity of fans at their next scheduled event. Is it too soon or long overdue? 

Haas: Overdue. COVID-19 case numbers have been declining since the spring time, and vaccinations have been rolling out. While packing in fans may be concerning to some, there has not been an outbreak at any NASCAR race reported. Being at sporting events, fans will feel one step closer to the old normal.

Roller: It is somewhere in the middle. Certain tracks can host a large number of fans easier than others, and for the most part, the tracks announced can by the time their next race date arrives. While I would have waited until the 2022 Daytona 500 to go full capacity to be safe, if NASCAR and the tracks believe they can do it, I believe them. Based on my life over the past 10 to 12 months, while I would probably still wear a mask for most of my stay, I would feel comfortable going to a race with full capacity. It’s time to welcome more and more fans to the racetrack, and it’s good to see that happening.

Glover: It is a breath of fresh air after being deep in the water. It’s long overdue. With many states now lifting restrictions and mandates, it is time to see the majority of race fans back in the stands. NASCAR proved it could safely run events with drivers and crews, and it can do the same with fans and sponsor representatives.

McFadin: Roughly 37% of Americans are fully vaccinated as of May 18. One Penske crew chief has missed two consecutive races due to its COVID protocols. Justin Haley sat out last weekend due to protocols. It’s too soon — and I’m fully vaccinated.

Tiongson: I’m torn about this. I’m fully vaccinated, but a part of me says it is too soon to reopen fully. Tracks and most industries are hurting from the pandemic. So while it’s long overdue for life to get back to normal, and perhaps it will point in such a direction in mid-June, it may be a bit too soon.

See also
Beside the Rising Tide: Drive to Survive

Nielsen reportedly informed teams that moving the car number decals from the center of the door will add sponsorship value. Would such a change have the desired impact within the NASCAR fan base?

Roller: NASCAR fans are stubborn creatures and don’t always accept change well. The position of the number is going to change in 2022, and the fan base’s opinion isn’t being taken into major consideration. If moving the number of the car toward the front or rear wheels holds the potential to attract sponsors easier and bring more money to the teams, it’s going to happen. With that said, the NASCAR fan base will eventually get over it, like it always does.

Haas: Absolutely not. NASCAR has moved the contingency away from the racecar and onto social media, which caused sponsors to try to plug this area up. The sport was built on drivers being identifiable by their numbers, as the center of the door stands out the most on the car. Fans are more likely to know who drove the Nos. 3, 24 or 43 more than the Dow, Axalta or DoorDash car. Making that move with the number would ruin the identity of what the sport was built on. The decision to move the number back might deplete the fan base to those who like the number in the center and those who do not care about number positioning.

Glover: The last part of this question is what NASCAR needs to look at. At the Next Gen reveal, NASCAR President Steve Phelps told fans that this car was for them. If NASCAR is going to follow through on that, it must review the fan response. From what I have seen, the majority of fans have disapproved of the idea. For sponsor reasons, yes, this would maximize exposure. It would be silly to quit watching because of it. However, I agree with the fans that this tradition needs to be upheld, and it should be a top priority of NASCAR to please the fans.

McFadin: If the car number is slid backward or forward, the amount of real estate sponsors have to work with is still relatively the same to if it stayed in the middle of the door. There’s already huge amounts of space on the cars teams aren’t utilizing for use by sponsors. I’m very skeptical about what the change could produce. Make it optional and don’t change the size of the number and you won’t get a complaint from me.

Tiongson: Of course Nielsen reports such to the teams who are in the Race Team Alliance. Why not? Whatever the RTA has decided over the years, it’s proven unpopular and then gets pacified as benefiting the series and its fans. Such a move might be favorable according to Nielsen, but it is perhaps the most preposterous proposed change yet. There’s no merit in changing the location of the car numbers on the sides of these cars. Leave well enough alone. The Next Gen cars will do their part to entice young and longtime fans into looking at and possibly leasing or buying a Camaro, Mustang or Camry. There are certain things that should stay the course, and this is one of them.

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WriterCat

Don’t really mind the numbers sliding back along the side panel (rear panel isn’t a good look, though). Kind of brings a drag racing/rallycross vibe to the paint schemes, which is nice. As long as the new placement is mandatory for all teams, it’ll work out. People will complain at first, but eventually they’ll get used to it.

The pandemic isn’t over just yet; seems way too soon to have full crowds at sporting events this year. (Maybe by August increase capacity to half, depending on how the numbers look.) Like McFadin said, Justin Haley missed last weekend, for Pete’s sake.

Short term, Keselowski joining Roush sounds like a terrible plan from a results standpoint. If he became a part-owner in the team, however? Long term, that could be a brilliant strategy in order to solidify his legacy within NASCAR history, especially if on-track success (wins, playoff berths, titles) eventually show up. BKR played a huge role in kickstarting the careers of many drivers (Blaney, Briscoe, Reddick, etc), and it’s possible a rejuvenated Roush team could eventually expand down to Xfinity/Trucks again in order to do the same thing.

Jake

Seven (7!!!!) fully vaccinated Yankees tested positive last week. Rona is never going away, just like the flu. Time to put on your big boy pants and step outside the front door.

I’m also disappointed so many of you refuse to “follow the science”. Especially after the media told us that the riots, I mean peaceful protests, from LAST summer did NOT cause spikes.

Bill B

One thing I would caution when comparing SHR to FFR is that Haas has seemed more willing to throw money around than Roush has. At least that’s my perception. If Roush isn’t willing to double down financially they will have a hard time turning the ship. We all know that money buys speed and the most talented drivers.

Yes it is time to re-open everything. Covid is not going anywhere. The vaccine is readily available to anyone that wants it now. The purpose of the vaccine isn’t to wipe out Covid (although it would be nice if it did), it’s to keep people from needing to be hospitalized when they get it. We can’t hide under ground forever. If, in fact, the consequences of getting Covid after being vaccinated is similar to the severity of getting the flu, then we need to learn to live with it like other afflictions. If you choose not to get vaccinated then don’t expect the rest of us to live a diminished life to keep you safe. Chit or get of the pot.

Who gives a crap where the number is. Tattoo it on the drivers’ asses for all I care. I’d prefer it stay where it is but not enough to care.

Fed Up

Good call Bill B. The bean counters at the investment company will control the capital and budget.

David Russell Edwards

I suspect that Ford is involved in the Roush situation as well. How much, I wouldn’t have a clue, but they would likely have some input. Although how large of a share does the nascar team have in the Roush business empire now.

Upstate9fan

Simple solution to the numbers. Tell the teams the numbers have to be a certain minimum size and on the door. After that let them put it wherever they want. Then if the fans don’t like it they can complain to the teams/RTA. NASCAR should {“pass the buck” back to the RTA on this one.

DoninAjax

Since when did the “racing” equivalent to the WWE ever care what the fans wanted?

eddo

Haas : “Fans are more likely to know who drove the Nos. 3, 24 or 43 more than the Dow, Axalta or DoorDash car. Making that move with the number would ruin the identity of what the sport was built on.”

I couldn’t agree more. Long gone are the common season long sponsors, so the most identifiable part of the car each week is the number, not the sponsor. Leave the numbers where they are, or make it an option for each team/sponsor to move along the door panels.

But I wont leave the sport I love over it.

Single lugnuts, however…. LOL

Bill BB

Good point about the numbers being the only constant with rotating sponsors from week to week. The numbers need to be large and visible where ever they end up sticking them.

DoninAjax

With the single nut holding the (steering?) wheel it will be obvious if it is loose.

Echo

Lmao. Good point. This weekend of racing is going to be crazy. Drivers can’t remember turn numbers, pit road is going to be a problem big time. Nascar gimmicks keep me amazed.

Bill B

Hey these guys are supposed to be pros.
Here is a car. Here is a track. Now drive bitch. LOL
I think it should be worth watching just to see what happens. Could be a comedy or a tragedy.

OK DoninAjax,
Here we go. There will be a practice tomorrow (it’s on Fox Sports 2, aka,,, The Ocho).
So, will there be a competition caution or not? If there is you can say, “I told you so”. Unless it rains between practice and the race, in which case they can have a CC anyway.

Bill B

Oh no! It’s raining in Texas. If I had to bet, I’d bet we will have a competition caution. Dammit!!!!!!

Echo

I definitely think they all 3 will be worth watching. Better than a mile and a half. Enjoy

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