Monday, May 20, 2013

Changing The NASCAR All-Star Race

After trying to fall asleep during the NASCAR multiple times this past weekend, I believe that there needs to be changes made to the race.  I am not talking tweaks to the race, I am talking major race changing rules. I am talking things that many "racing purists" would consider blasphemous. But something needs to be done. The All-Star race is becoming the Pro Bowl like. And that is a bad thing.

First Rule Change: All cars in the race will have to qualify. I am talking a 43 car field. I understand that David Regan does not have the same amount of fans that Jeff Gordon or Tony Stewart have, but he does have fans. It does nothing but tell fans that certain racers and teams are not good enough to be an all-star and the qualifying race doesn't matter. Because the one that does qualify is usually treated as an afterthought when the big boys come out to play. Put all teams on a level playing field and guarantee teams of at least $150,000 to participate. Imagine 50 or 55 cars deciding to try and qualify for this.

1st Segment Of The Race: A 50 lap first segment. Easy enough to comprehend. Places 31 to 43 are eliminated after the segment. No ifs, ands, or buts. No wild card, no fan voting, no popularity contests. If you are in one of those 13 spots at the end of lap 50, your night of driving is over. If a car is in a wreck and finishes in the Top 30, the crew can try and get that car out for the next segment. Mandatory pit stop after the segment. Winner of the segment gets $300,000 and 5 Sprint Cup Points.

2nd Segment Of The Race: Another 50 lap segment. Only the Top 20 survive. However, we do it elimination style. Every 5 laps, the car in last place is eliminated and parked. If we are in a caution flag period and you are last, you are eliminated. I believe that this segment would have lots of fun and hard driving. You have the rabbits and the hounds syndrome going on. That is a scenario that could have lots of excitement. You also have to be strategic with your pit stops. If you are in 19th place and decide to pit at Lap 13, you will probably not make it past Lap 15 when you are in 28th. But you cannot just hang back at the end of the field and sandbag to conserve fuel. An accident puts pressure on the crew to have a great pit stop. That would be the excitement filled sit on the edge of your seat segment. Winner gets $500,000 and 5 Sprint Cup Points.

3rd and Last Segment Of The Race: Length is unknown to begin. After the 2nd Segment, the cars need to pit and take 4 tires. However, the Crew Chiefs understand that there are 5 different lengths that the race can go. 10, 25, 50, 75, 100 laps are the possibilities. The length is determined after the pit stops are all completed and drawn from a hat by a fan. Imagine if you are Chad Knaus and trying to decide what to set up for. Do you plan and hope for the 10 or 25 lap segment or do you set up for the 50 lap and longer segment? I understand that it would cause some problems with strategy, but since this is an all-star race, some unpredictability is not necessarily a bad thing. It also allows for some second-guessing from fans and others. These teams have notes and know exactly their strategy at each of the race tracks. So why not allow something to interfere with this. Winner gets $1 Million and 10 Sprint Cup Points.

Other possible changes that could and should be considered:
  • Changing tracks every year. I know that most of the race teams are based out of Charlotte and the track is right there, but why not go to Pocono one year, Daytona another, Watkins Glen the third, Kansas the fourth, and Charlotte the fifth.  Then for the next 5 have Phoenix, Chicagoland, Atlanta, Fontana, and Charlotte. Then for the next five, Sears Point, Kentucky, Montreal, Texas, and Charlotte. Every 5 years, have it in Charlotte but have the All-Star race at different tracks and not just the ones that the regular series goes to. Imagine the All-Star race at Sears Point where most of the drivers haven't raced. We would see how good the drivers are.
  • Reverse direction. Imagine the difficulty of turning Right instead of Left. Imagine all the things that have to change. Pit stops, the jack man, the gasman, tire changers, even the driving lines. Throw out all the notes and tendencies. It would cause the best teams that can handle adversity to rise to the top.
  • The lack of rules in regard to car setup. The only thing that has to be to a regular standard is the car design and template configuration. Whatever you want under the hood is allowable. Traction control? Bring it. Weight transfer on the axles or in the car? Great. Chopping a half inch off the spoiler? No way. If you want excitement, this could bring excitement just for the gear head out there after the race listening to what was under the hoods and suspension controls. It could also allow NASCAR to see what different things might help the cars during regular NASCAR races.
I understand that there are people out there that would be screaming about awarding points in this type of race. However, it is sanctioned by NASCAR. You have all 43 cars starting out and having the same possibility of winning as you do on a regular race weekend. It is no longer an All-Star race. You can have phenomenal racing at the end of each segment by awarding those points to the winner. Imagine if you are projected to be fighting for that 10th Place finish at year end, 5 or 10 points earned during this race might get you into the Chase For The Sprint Cup. I believe that it would help make this even more of a must watch race for followers of the series.

This will not come to pass, but I think that this would make the race be the spectacle that it must be for all the right reasons. It causes racers to race. There are consequences for trying to sandbag. There are rewards for trying to win a segment or race that go beyond money. You don't get the canned standard race until 10 or 15 laps left. Anything that makes this once a year special race to become more special is a worthy discussion. At least I wouldn't be trying to fall asleep multiple times with this setup.


Anonymous said...

I have an idea that's out of the box. How about holding it at Daytona, but use the road course? You would still have cars running nearly full speed at the start/finish line, but then they would have to slow down past the pits to make a quick left/right/left before a hairpin turn.

Then again, these guys don't race like they do in the Australian V8 Supercar series. I caught that yesterday morning on Fox Speed and they were awesome at Circuit of the Americas.

Brent said...

I love having Road Courses. That is a great idea.

Zebster said...

I don't like the qualifying idea. You qualified by winning a race. The fan vote is stupid though, get rid of it.
What I'd like to see, along with doing it at Bristol, is to put all the drivers in equal cars. What a way to bring back IROC.