So NASCAR has formed a driver’s council, what a novel idea. Let’s hear from those who actually drive the darn cars, and are actually pretty good at it. Sometimes I think Captain Obvious is a silent partner at NASCAR. We’re talking about an idea that a good 40 years overdue; however, the development begs one critical question:
What difference will it make? Will driver input bring desperately needed changes to the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, or is this another band-aid attempting to cover a deep, festering knife wound?
It is difficult to provide an example of a situation where more changes have been enacted, but have so little to show for it. Just think about the chase era: we’ve changed the car, changed the chase, changed the schedule, changed qualifying, changed what is and isn’t acceptable driving behavior. Can you imagine the poor soul that has to edit that double secret NASCAR rule book nobody has ever seen? Talk about job security!
To the positive side a driver council only makes sense in that these are the folks that put on the show. The drivers are the ones that the fans- and fewer of them- are paying and tuning in to see. The drivers know better than anyone the challenges presented by aero push, tire wear, the presence or lack of safer barriers, and on and on. When it comes to racing, if the drivers don’t know, then who does?
On the other hand, what good is a driver council if it is all conversation and no action? Worse yet, a lot of you are probably like me and know that there are more challenges facing NASCAR than any one solution can fix. You can fix the car, but like Roger Penske says, that has to happen now if the power that be want to roll that out at the outset of 2016. You can change the schedule, and little tweaks have been put into place, but what hasn’t changed is the significant presence of all the 1.5 mile cookie cutter tracks. Let’s face it- real, meaningful change will never happen with the incestuous relationship that exists between the governing body and the company that owns the tracks.
There is one major change NASCAR could make and it wouldn’t take the movement of Heaven and Earth to do it: declare the “Chase Era” over at the conclusion of the 2015 race season. You don’t even need a driver council to do that. Return the determination of a season’s champion to the format most fans prefer. Nah! Too easy.
You can say this about the formation of the driver council: it’s more obvious that your absence from the track and your absence from the television audience has become quite noticeable.
This driver council could be a great thing. The competitors aren’t that far removed from the voice of the fan and they’re the ones who make it happen. NASCAR didn’t get in this mess overnight, and fixing it can’t be accomplished in one day. With that being said, this can be one in a series of steps to getting NASCAR on the path which it belongs.