Monday, January 20, 2014

Humpy Wheeler: NASCAR's changes are an NFL-like move

   Former Charlotte Motor Speedway and Speedway Motorsports Inc. president Humpy Wheeler offered the following response to NASCAR's proposed changes to its championship format:

   "NASCAR'S plan to dramatically change the point structure would eventually rank right up there with what the NFL did years ago that has produced so many gasping playoff games.
Under the potential change drivers would no longer run steady races to finish fourth and proclaim: "had a great day with this fourth place finish," a statement to old timers like Smokey Yunick, Glen Wood, Ralph Moody and Ray Fox would have been met with a pipe wrench over the driver's head. This kind of thinking is one thing that got racing in trouble. The way the points were skewed a driver could finish well and never win and actually win the championship.

   No longer! This idea which came out of the secret strategy chambers of Brian France, Mike Helton and Robin Pemberton with a few other good thinkers has been aimed at greatly increasing the quality of NASCAR racing and
result in what has been missing so long … passing for the lead! A season or two of this format which places the emphasis on winning could bring those fans back to the empty seats they left when races became boring.

   Now if we can eliminate the dreaded aero push -- that great mysterious force that keeps the lead car in clean air and almost disallows the second place driver from passing him -- NASCAR races could get back to being one of the most entertaining in sport. NASCAR won't admit this but they are attacking that great dilemma full force in the R&D section.

   One more item that NASCAR can do nothing about including talking about it and that is …sponsors, let these drivers be themselves. Quit trying to remold them into plastic mannequins who only drive flying billboards. Let Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Tony Stuart, etc., be themselves for gosh sakes! Now, certainly all sponsors don't try to keep the corporate thumb on their heroes. Lowe's is one but Jimmie Johnson is so perfect and has been since long before he had a sponsor there is nothing to do there. However, most of the sponsors want no negative stuff out of their wheelmen. Let 'em go boys!

   So, when you want to bash NASCAR think about what they are doing to make racing more competitive and return it to the strongly accelerating sport it was back in the 1995-2005 period one must give them a strong pat on the back."