Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New policy doesn't ensure new winners

   So far, NASCAR’s new policy of limiting drivers to earning championship points in one series seems to have several unintended consequences.

   A grand total of zero points were earned by the drivers who won the first five NASCAR races of the season, including the Daytona 500.

   That may be a statistical oddity, but there also seems to be a growing uproar over how ESPN covers the emerging championship battle in the Nationwide Series, which is likely to produce many race winners this season not running for the title.

   Let’s be clear: NASCAR’s new policy ensures there will be a new Nationwide Series champion this season, but nothing it did ever guaranteed anybody new would win the series races so long as those who have been participating in it continued to do so.

   In other words, it’s perfectly possible for the Nationwide champion this year to have won zero races.

   Now, some seem to think ESPN is obligated to produce almost separate coverage of the drivers in each race running for the championship but perhaps not in contention for the win.

   That’s silly.

   Networks sign up to broadcast and cover races – not points standings. This week’s race is in Las Vegas, not this week’s championship battle.

   The last thing I want is for a network to feel compelled to produce and cover “fake drama” totally irrelevant to what is taking place on the track. We already have a Chase in the Sprint Cup Series for that, thank you.

   Fans don't buy tickets to sit in the stands, calculator in hand, to see how the points play out. They watch to see who wins the race.

   The new NASCAR policy may have changed who wins a series title but by no means did it guarantee new race winners or alter the way a race should be covered.

   If that’s what NASCAR wanted, it should have come up with a better plan.


  1. The "plan" NASCAR did come up with is a typical one in that no thought was put into the actual racing end of it - it was strictly a PR move to avoid making a real decision - they are afraid to come down and say "Cup drivers are banned from running support series races" so they came up with this.

    And it's not working.

  2. I wouldn't ban them outright, but I would tell them, "If you're a full-time Cup driver in the top 25 in points in that series, you can run no more than half of the NW or Truck races." There are 34 NW races this season, which means under this policy, Cup drivers could pick 17 races to run. Any 17 they want -- companion events to Cup, standalone races, whatever. But 17 and only 17.

  3. Jeff, why NOT ban them outright? All the Cup interlocurs are doing is draining sponsorships and purse money from the series regulars. They're NOT helping anyone by racing in support series races.

  4. Yes it IS about money and I'm totally against NASCAR telling drivers that they aren't allowed to compete for a purse, or telling sponsors to go away because they can't have the drivers they want to represent them.

  5. Monkeesfan,

    Cup drivers have been driving in Nationwide Series races for as long as I can remember -- it's only in the last five years or so that it's gotten to the point where they run the full season and fight for the championship. Cup drivers help bring exposure to the Nationwide Series, putting butts in the seats and getting people to watch on TV. That's why I wouldn't ban them outright, but I would limit how many races they can run.

    Most fans don't know the Nationwide Series drivers; case in point, I was at the October race in Charlotte in 2002, when Jamie McMurray won in his second career start subbing for Sterling Marlin. I knew who he was, because I watched what was then the Busch Series, but everyone around me was standing there asking each other who the hell this McMurray kid was.

  6. Jeff, that they've been driving in support series for decades doesn't make it right. The exposure argument was exposed as a myth when Winston Cup guys cut back participation in BGN in the mid-1990s and the series began growing. The Truck Series had no involvement by WC drivers when it started and it didn't need their involvement.

    They do not need WC drivers to sell the series; if anything WC involvement has alienated the fanbase.

    Post #4 makes zero sense. NASCAR NEEDS to start telling drivers not to race in a series because their involvement in that series has drained it dry.