Last week I created a fictitious Sprint Cup schedule that generated some very thoughtful comments. Keeping in the spirit of wishful thinking, I offer these five suggestions on how to improve the Sprint Cup Series. Please keep in mind, I think NASCAR has done a great job the past 60 years taking this sport to phenomenal heights. I offer these suggestions as a crewman and fan who loves the sport and wants to see it thrive. Your comments are welcome.
Fastest 43 cars race
For all the money and politics that have entered big-time stock car competition, it is still the RACING that matters. The integrity and purity of the sport seems tainted with 35 positions already locked in when the Friday morning gates open. I say we make every team earn a starting slot. If Jeff Gordon spins on his qualifying lap, too bad. If Dale Earnhardt Jr. gets a flat tire during time trials, that’s racing. If some of the superstars don’t make it to Sunday, then go faster next week.
Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series: Pick ONE
Does Ben Roethlisberger play in a college game on Saturday to warm up for Sunday? Is Derek Jeter batting in a college tournament when the Yankees have the night off? When a driver moves up, he should stay up. We could have 122 different drivers in the starting fields of a tripleheader weekend. This would be a great opportunity to develop the Jack Ingrams and Sam Ards of tomorrow. Nationwide used to be a division to aspire to. It was revered. Now it’s a stepping stone for the Cup tour, or a moonlighting gig.
The Sprint Cup Series spends three days at a speedway to practice, qualify and run one race. Grassroots drivers do it all in one night. Cup teams doing the same could save a lot of money over the course of a season and the teams would not be as burned out. This also could make for better racing.
Green flag finishes no matter what
Nothing takes the wind out of a fan’s sails like a finish under caution after a green-white-checker setup. Late cautions tend to decrease the driver’s respect and consideration for one another. The race is on the line. If they wreck during extra laps, I say clean up the mess, line them up and throw the green again. The fans paid good money for their tickets. They need to see a real finish.
Stop referring to the Cup Series as NASCAR
Many people do not really know what NASCAR is. They see the Cup Series and think that is NASCAR, period. That is incorrect and some of the biggest violators are members of the media. “The NASCAR schedule” and “Where is NASCAR this weekend” are incorrectly phrased if some is speaking of Sprint Cup only. Some uneducated members of the press perpetuate the problem, confusing the casual fan. I can tell how much a person truly knows about motorsports when our conversation goes like this. If someone claims to follow NASCAR, then they should know who won the NASCAR Southern Modified Tour championship and can tell me about Rockford Speedway in Illinois. They are both just as much NASCAR as Talladega and the C.O.T.
(Patrick Reynolds is a professional racing mechanic who has worked for several NASCAR teams.)
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