Tell Me: Were The Old Days Really Better?

by John Chapman on August 2, 2010 · 44 comments

Last week I wrote an article about TNT’s six race package. Quite frankly, I was surprised at the response. Sometimes articles are like your kids, they go in directions you don’t expect. That one kind of morphed into a what’s wrong with NASCAR piece.

Thinking about this, a couple of things jumped out at me. First, I know that NASCAR is finally realizing that they have a deeper problem than just the soft economy. We’ve seen changes to try to combat this. We’re finally seeing some long overdue and much needed changes to the current car. They’ve taken the handcuffs off the drivers (the gag is still in place). Like we won’t notice things if the drivers don’t tell us. I consider this an insult to the fans, but that’s a rant for another time.

While I’ve digressed, one final thought, I’m surprised that Michael Waltrip wasn’t fined as well. The way my TNT article took it’s own direction makes me wonder if NASCAR has totally come to grips with the depth and breadth of the fan unrest.

The second thing- and I knew this- is that most long time fans think things were better in the past. The question I asked myself, is why do we think this? A lot of us who have been following this circus for a long time aren’t pups any more. As people get older, we tend to resent change. We look back on the way things were with fondness. Were they really better, or do we just remember them that way?

I’m going to loosely categorize today’s fans into three groups: Casual fans- people who will flip through the channels, and will watch a race if nothing else catches their attention. Long time, hard core fans- people who have followed the sport for many years.These are the folks who are most dissatisfied with the current state of NASCAR affairs. New fans- these have become fans much more recently, and while many of them may feel that things could be done better, they’re not nearly as dissatisfied,or they wouldn’t still be fans. This is the fan group that I think is most important to NASCAR.

Say What? Not the long time hard core fans? Nope, not the way I see it. Most of us are older, if NASCAR can’t replace us, the sport could die, with us. That having been said, I have some things I’d love to see changed, and I think we have a right to expect NASCAR to throw us a bone, because until they can attract the new fans that the sport needs, we’re the "keepers of the flame".

One of the easiest, and least painful changes that I’d like to see is to give Darlington back it’s Labor Day weekend date. First and foremost, I want to see cars that I can recognize. I remember
something I read about Indy. Remember, in the early days, Indy ran stock cars. They were stripped and modified for racing, but stock cars never the less. A man said that he and his father attended the very first Indy 500 in 1911. The winning car was a Marmon Wasp, and his father was driving a Marmon. "On the way home, no one passed us".

NASCAR had the same thing going for it. Now, as a reader said, "it’s hard to root for a decal.” The old stock bodied cars were mostly "bricks" also, but aero didn’t seem to be as such of a big factor. They still could make passes on motor. Now NASCAR is into parity. The ultimate parity is the plate races. These races are famous, or infamous for the wrecks. Fans sit hypnotized waiting for the "Big One". While wrecks have always been a part of racing,
there needs to be more to it.

The stars from the time I started watching seemed larger than life. The point has been made, that in the "old days," sometimes only one or two cars finished on the lead lap. Some truth in that. If you’re attending, then you can pick what you want to watch, and there’s always some good racing. Unfortunately, for most of us watching on TV, we only get to see what they choose to show. That’s the weakness in most broadcasts.

NASCAR’s "Modern Era" is dated from ’72 when Winston came on board. With the added money a lot of things changed.One big change was that the championship, suddenly became much more important, because it paid better. Before, many of the most successful owners and drivers picked and chose- only running the big money races, and not running for the championship. Today, the entire focus is the Chase, and ultimately, the championship, even though, realistically only 2 or 3 Chasers have a real shot. I didn’t care for the Chase when they put it in, I don’t like it now, and I’ll never like it.

One thing I did like was that if a car went a lap down, it was really hard to recover. I think people raced much harder to stay on the lead lap. Now it’s just too easy to get one back. Not as much incentive for the leader to run hard to put a lap on people, or for anyone to work as hard to keep it from happening.

Another innovation I don’t care for is the wave around. If cars want to stay out, no problem. Let them start ahead of the leader, then try to stay there. To me, that’s an interesting aspect that the new restart procedure has taken away.

I do understand one undeniable truth. For the sport to survive, it’s going to have to attract and hold new and younger fans. To do that, they may have to make changes that some long time fans don’t like. IF, the Chase had done anything like it was supposed to then I still wouldn’t personally like it, but you wouldn’t be reading any complaints from me about it. I can live with changes as long they work.

It seems to me that they are too married to some things that just aren’t working. In a corporation, when a change of direction is needed, usually the board of directors makes a change at the top. In a privately held company, these changes are much harder, because people have to admit their ideas aren’t working. That’s not always easy.

As the title says, I want you to tell me your thinking. I know from past responses, that we have very sharp and well spoken readers. Tell us what you like, what you don’t like, and what you want to see. If you liked it better in the old days, tell us why. To make this information more relevant, please include your age group- under 20, 21-35, 36-55 or old fart, like me- as well as approximately how long you’ve been following the sport.

I can promise you one thing. You can speak your mind and not
be fined.


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{ 44 comments }

1 modified7 August 3, 2010 at 1:50 am

John, I’m what you might call a old fart. I am 73 and been close to this Nascar sport from the mid 50′s. I started with the hobby division at it’s start up and when on the the old coupes and coache’s up thru the 55-7 chevys and 65-69 chevelles. I like the way races where run back in the day. I was at Dover when Richard Petty came from six laps down to win. I also saw Tim Richmond come back after sometime off to win at Pocono. I still like to hear the old hemi’s roar around the track. Like you said, just changing the decals is not grabbing my desire to enjoy. However, I do like the safety that has come along in the cars as well as the tracks. My opinion NASCAR has strangled racing. with the rules and special equiptment supplied by NASCAR (like springs, shocks etc.). I have never deemed a car or driver was cheating. I looked at it as creative engineering and if you have seen that on a competitors car, don’t complain, at it to your car. Perticularly if the rules have not been written on that item. An Old friend of mine and race car owner had a sign painted under his hood on his race car the read “He who cheats, not clever” “He that’s Clever, Wins” I also liked it when NASCAR CUP ran some dirt races and I really enjoyed that. Pearson, Petty and Baker where great on dirt. Those where the GOOD OLD DAYS and where GOOD OLD RACING. GOOD OLD DRIVERS WITHOUT POWER STEERING and settled their differences after the races behind the pits.

2 Vicki August 3, 2010 at 2:37 am

I’m an old new fan, being in my 60′s but having only discovered NASCAR in 2008. Sometimes, I feel like the naive newlywed who flat-out adores her husband but the long-married old biddies in the neighborhood keep telling her – “just wait, when you dig those stars out of your eyes, you’ll find out that men are really like, clowns and a-holes. He’s really a jerk but you’re too stupid to see it.” I think maybe long-time NASCAR fans don’t realize how negative and discouraging they are.

3 Ron August 3, 2010 at 4:46 am

Great article John!! I am 54. and have followed racing since Bobby Isaac won the championship in 1970. One thing I don’t like about NASCAR’s chase is the fact that they don’t put enough emphasis on winning throughout the year! The guys who have won a race should be in the chase regardless of the DNF’s they have had throughout the year. Every other sport rewards winning except NASCAR.
Another thing they lack is the number of short track races. Someone needs to buy the N Wilkesboro speedway and add seats all around the track, and it would sell out! Fans love the short tracks more than these cookie cutter tracks. Also bring back Rockingham. I think NASCAR blew it when they took away the roots of NASCAR. I too would love to see Darlington returned to Labor Day weekend. It just don’t feel right when NASCAR is not at the “lady in black” during the Labor Day weekend!
And the biggest grip I have is the start and parkers. OMG it makes my blood boil to see these “panhandlers” out there week after week to run a few laps and park. Phil Parsons is getting rich with the 2 cars he brings to the track every week. I mean he’s making more than some of the top teams! At Pocono last week, the team brought home over $125,000, and at Indy it was over $260,000!
This is outrageous, when the winner brought home less the 200 grand more! Nemecheck is out for every freaking buck he can raise, and I bet on his tax return he out down race car driver as he occupation. What a joke these people are. And too they lie every week about what put them out of the race. Overheating, handling etc. These people are a disgrace to the sport! So what if NASCAR don’t have 43 cars every week? I mean after 5-6 laps. several of them are in a race to see who can get to the garage the quickest. I say through the bums out, and reduce the field to 38 cars. They are an embarrassment to the sport!
And last but not least, I hope they do something about Sprint Cup driver’s taking away from those that run Nationwide full time. They are taking away major bucks from those guys that try so hard every week! They need to make it so those that are Nationwide drivers get more $$’s and points than those who come in and take it away from those guys and teams struggling just to make it!
NASCAR has started listening to the fans, now it’s high time they take action!

4 RobFromCanada August 3, 2010 at 4:54 am

i’m 47..so am in the almost old fart category…been watching since the late 60′s..bits on wide world..bud lindeman’s show etc etc..my dad was n amatuer racer so it was in my blood from birth..i too did some amatuer enduros and such but not to the extent he did..imho the best time frame of racing ever was bout 89-97..the cars still looked like something real even if we knew they didnt really have anything in common with reality…and the racing was quite close..alot of really good drivers kept it that way..92 was prolly the finest season of racing in history and not just because my fords battled it out till the end…the nascar overlords need to look back in time and find out why racing was so good then and so horridly abysmal now..but they are kinda blind to reality if it dosnt have a sponsors check so blindness will continue

5 dawg August 3, 2010 at 6:09 am

I guess this would be a good time to tell a little bit about myself. I’ll turn 65 next month. Attended my first race in ’48. My father raced a Midget in those days. Been following NASCAR since the early ’70s. Primarily to follow Ed Negree, who used to race locally. Had to follow via National Speed Sport News. Built my first race car in ’63, a 55 Plymouth. Got some help from Tony Roper’s (RIP) Grandfather. Over the years I’ve done a little Drag Racing, (didn’t care too much for it). Was an AMA steward, (race Official) in the mid ’60′s. Ran a Midget in the ’70′s. Done a little bit of club racing, & autocrossing with my Porsche in the late ’70′s. Even raced my Sail Boat a while, (didn’t care for that either, too passive). Almost bought another Midget in ’05. Fibbed to my wife, & kids. Told them I didn’t plan to drive it. Wife believed me, kids didn’t! Finally backed off when kids had a fit. Currently putting together my Bucket List of dirt tracks I want to visit. Favorite form of racing, USAC Sprints, & Midgets on dirt. Still love Flat Track Motorcycles. I feel like Cup has become too much like F1, a parade on the track, with races decided in the pits. Thanks to everyone for your comments. I do think NASCAR has finally started listening.

6 Airman August 3, 2010 at 6:10 am

First of all, in it’s present form, the chase is a joke. It de-emphasizes the race which is terrible. Isn’t the race why the fans showed up in the first place? Ever read a story on Homestead? So in so won the championship etc., etc., etc., and at the bottom of the article somewhere, by the way what’s his name won the race. 43 DRIVERS CAME TO THE RACE AND THE ONLY THING THAT WAS IMPORTANT WAS WHO WON THE CHASE?? For 50 years, the championship rewarded consistancy not winning. It was supposed to give the ones not in the top five teams a chance to have a good pay day too.
Next, go back to stock bodies! If that gives someone an advantage, so be it. Take away the arero and allow what one reader called “creative engineering”. I point out that you can’t run a Dodge with a Hemi engine in Nascar, but you CAN buy one at a dealership. You CAN’T buy a Ford Fusion with rear wheel drive and a V8 engine at the dealer but you can run a Nascar stock car with that configuration.
Back in the 60s and 70s there were maybe five teams capable of consistent wins. Please tell me how that has changed? The only difference is each of those teams now has 4 chances to win but there are still only abaout 5 teams capible of winning so Parity is also a joke.
Bryan France seems determined to make Nascar over with his ideas, and no cradentials to back any of them up. He doesn’t have the promoting experience to know. it doesn’t seem to matter what the people who pay for the sport want, Bryan France’s ego is clearly getting in the way. If he keeps it up, I hope someone is working on Nascar’s headstone. Nascar needs a promoter in charge, not a kid who went to California and played for 20 years until his dad was too sick to continue (sorry if that offends but it seems to be the truth from everything I’ve read). There is only one man I know of with the knowledge, experience and ability to save Nascar at this point. Unfortunately for Nascar, he’s now retired and living in Charlotte. I know what he did for CMS in his 30+ years there but I’m pretty sure the France family would never stand for him running their money crank. Well, they might now, once the earnings report is on their desks.
BTW, a there are grandstands all around the N. Wilksboro track now, I saw them the other day when I passed the track. It’s still the prettiest track in the south. Charlotte has the best facility but N. Wilksboro is still a picture postcard.

7 Vicki August 3, 2010 at 6:17 am

I rest my case.

8 Chad August 3, 2010 at 7:02 am

I have been a fan since the 80′s. I am 38 years old. I watch and/or DVR every race from ARCA to NASCAR’s top 3 series and a few others. The Chase is ridiculous. I am sorry but NASCAR got it wrong. The series recognizes its top 10 teams at the end of the year but fails to recognize the top 10 teams of the entire year. it has happened already the first year of the chase Jamie McMurray ran good enough over the last ten races that he would have been in the top 5 and was not allowed to make the stage in NY because of this ignorant system. The chase is manufactured garbage unlike the 1992 or other championship runs with real drama and excitement. It’s assine to believe people will continue watching if Jr. or Gordon or Stewart have a rough start to the season and rally back with 2 or 3 wins and 10 top ten finishes to only finish 13th. I am sorry but if someone only has 1 or 2 wins but contends 30+ races wins the championship over someone with 5 wins and 5 dnf’s and only 15 top 10 finishes that’s just the way it is. Winning should mean more but so should the constinency it takes to win the Championship. NASCAR has diluted what it means to be that years Champion. What Kevin Harvick has done this year is awesome but to give a championship say to Kyle Busch just cause he runs a little better in the chase is akin to robbery. And absolutely no offense to David Reutimann but to give a guy that has run like he has a chance at a title just because he has a win like some of the fans have been posting here and elsewhere would be akin to taking a team that was just beat in 4 straight at the ALCS and handing them World Series rings. But you know Brian France and his minions will continue to do what they want because they have lost all touch with reality. “Have at it boys” Just don’t speak your mind or payback another driver for forcing you out of the way.

9 Husky August 3, 2010 at 7:04 am

Hi John, I really enjoyed your article. I am 39 years old and have been a big fan of NASCAR for close to 30 years, so I grew up with this being my favorite sport.
I can’t say I am a big fan of the Chase format or some of the rules changes that NASCAR has made, including the Lucky Dog and wave around etc etc, I do understand why they have tried such things. Probably in their minds, they were trying to make for better racing but, I don’t understand NASCAR’s reluctance to make changes to some of the things they have implemented.
My biggest complaint is the removal of some of my favorite tracks to accommodate cookie cutter tracks in Kansas / Miami / Texas and even California, places like North Wilkesboro / Rockingham and Darlington were always some of the best races, now 2 of those are gone and Darlington a NASCAR Staple has 1 race and it isn’t even on Labor Day!
If we are going to have a “chase.” How can it “not” include the likes of Daytona/Bristol and maybe even a Road Course? Why have 5 races at 1.5 mile tracks? Show some diversity of the Sport. And Speaking of diversity why do we have Toyotas, Dodges, Chevrolets and Fords that all look the same, Why not change it to the IROC series…….
Even though I complained, a lot in my response here, I continue to attend 5 or more races a year and watch every one start to finish on TV, NASCAR won’t lose me as a fan but, I fear they may lose a lot of fans unless they change their recipe.

10 Janine August 3, 2010 at 7:14 am

Hi John, I’m somewhere between 40 and under 50. Went to my first race when I was 3. Started following NASCAR in the early 70′s. I don’t watch as religiously as I used to. I don’t like the Chase, the wave around, they lucky dog, and they fact that drivers are being fined for speaking their mind. I like “Boys, have at it” when it’s not being abused. I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, NASCAR treats this sport like they think there GOD.

11 Mike August 3, 2010 at 7:19 am

I’m a new fan. I’m 29 and have only been watching since mid-2007. Before I say anything else, even with all the problems NASCAR faces it still has the potential to draw in new fans. It drew me in. I’ve been to 3 races (Fontana, Las Vegas, Phoenix. I know. Not the greatest but its what I got on the West Coast) The drama, passion, and excitement that the sport creates is still there.

But even as a young, new fan I still have grips with the state of the sport.

1. The Chase. I came into this is 2007 so I just don’t know any different. It gives a little bit of added excitement during a few races but after the first 3-4 races of the Chase its seems to settle into what it has always been: only 2-4 teams with real legitimate shots at the title. If the Chase disappeared I wouldn’t really care all that much one way or another.
2. Cut the number of 500 mile, endurance races. Especially at places like Pocono. I generally try to watch every lap but during miles 275-400 it can be a challenge to remain conscious.
3. Axe both Fontana races. Fontana needs to re-do their track if they want a race. And this is coming from someone who lives in CA. Also, why do they go to Michigan twice?
4. The new Nationwide cars were a step int he right direction. Its nice to see a front end that resembles the actual production model. But that will be the extent of it. The cars haven’t looked like production models since the 70s. Those days are gone.
5. The entire needs to be shortened by 5 races. Its just too much of a good thing.

It’s been interesting watching the sport evolve, even in the very short amount of time I’ve been watching. They’ll keep taking swings at it; some things will work (double file restarts) others won’t (The Chase?). But it has always been that way.

I can’t wait to get to some of the iconic tracks, especially Darlington, Daytona, Martinsville, and Bristol.

12 Robert Mesich August 3, 2010 at 7:28 am

Good Morning All,
I have been a fan since the !970 Daytona 500. My first race was on the big screen at a theater someplace in Chicago. I went with my dad and uncle and have been hooked for life I guess. I was a thirteen you old kid and that day I became a big Pete Hamilton and Richard Petty fan. Later that year they took me to MIS and i was disappointed that Cale out ran my man Pete in the closing laps because Pete opted for new tires and Cale took on a new set and Hamilton was sliding all over the place in that beautiful Superbird. The MOPARS had the wings and noise that year and the Fords had the Fastbacks with their noises extended out. When we left the race and got into the traffic jam out of the lot you could find stock versions of the cars even though they were made special for NASCAR. It was just plain cool to see a Cale Yarborough special leaving the track. The guy driving had the biggest grin on his face. NASCAR started to loose this coolness in the mid 80s. Chevy came out with the Aerocoupe Monti Carlo with was very cool and could be ordered at any Chevy dealer in the country. Their first mistake was the Pontiac 2+2 Grand Prix. It was a kit that gave you a rear window and special noise made for NASCAR. You could not by one you had to make it or have it made yourself. This to me was the beginning of the end for true stock bodied cars. The 2+2 looked cool on the track but it just was not right. From that point on NASCAR slowly started to drift away from the stock bodies. The end came when they came out with the Ford Taurus. They never looked back until now. It was nice to see the Challengers and Mustangs at Daytona for the Nationwide race. The COT is a great thing for safety But looks like a box and really all the cars look identical. What NASCAR should do is keep the windshield and roof as mandatory rules because it is some much a part of how that car is safe. Let the teams go back to old school for the rest of the body. Front noise and hood, rear trunk and quarters all stock including the rear window and quarter windows. The sport would be revived to its glory days and us fans would love it. How about it NASCAR.

13 Jim August 3, 2010 at 7:36 am

Don’t like the spec cars or all the nit picking rules, or the top 35 or the chase. Inovation brings competion. Should be any springs, any shocks, if a car company doesn’t make a 2 door they don’t race. Bet they would make a car to compete. NA$CAR sits on their hands when they should be screaming at someone and goes crazy when they should chill. Remember Carl Longs cooked (overheated) motor?

14 JT August 3, 2010 at 8:09 am

I’m an older fan (north of 55).

My complaints about the current NNCS are fairly simple: The fields are too big (do they really need to start 43 cars at Martinsville and Bristol?), The races are too long (I’m looking at you – Pocono and California!), the 36-38 race season is too long (28-30 races and ending the season by Halloween seemed just about right).

15 Starliner August 3, 2010 at 8:29 am

The problems NASCAR has to face I’ll Number in importance, but I must tell you I’m not sure there is any way back from here. So NASCAR may eventually die, at least as a top TV sport.
1. The COT. This has brought us IROC type racing, and leaves no opportunity for crews and drivers to use their better ideas, and make gambles to win. NASCAR’s idea here was parity, therefore more sponsor money, at the cost of excitement, and manufactured drama
2. Really the only car that has a chance to win is the car out front in clean air. So NASCAR has to manufacture cautions to bunch the field up again, and this leads to too many races won in the pits than won on the race track. Not exactly what racing is supposed to be about.
3. NASCAR has grown this money monster, and they all got fat, and rich. Now the need to keep that going while the rest of us are struggling to put food on the table tends to make all the above items I mentioned necessary.
That’s my take on it. I said the COT would kill this sport, and so far I’ve been right. Because these cars are all the same except for grill, and taillight decals, the car out front has all the advantage at least with the top four teams where all the money is.
There has to be rules, and parameters for all, but there also has to be room to do something different to give yourself an advantage, not an unfair advantage, but a gamble where you take a chance like maybe opt for a different gear. Everyone else can run the same gear as you, but don’t have to. Maybe a set of headers that promote more low end torque versus a set that deliver more top end horsepower and less low end.
These are just a couple of the things that always made racing exciting. These are things that are still being done at those Saturday night tracks all over the country. This is roots of NASCAR . Sadly NASCAR would rather make sure that Hendrick and Chevy doesn’t win too many more titles than Joe Gibbs and Toyota, or Roush and Ford or Lowes more than Home Depot. The very need for the astro-nomical amount of money now needed feed the NASCAR monster is in fact starving it to death

16 The Mad Man August 3, 2010 at 8:32 am

Dawg, you can definitely call me an old fart. I’ve been a racing fan since 1963. I started out following drag racing, Indy cars, and NASCAR. I attended my first NASCAR race in 1964 at the Firecracker 400 and met The King and a lot of other legends of the day including AJ Foyt, who won the race. I use to listen to the races on my transistor radio and couldn’t wait for Wide World of Sports to catch the clips of the previous week’s race.

I worked with one of my buddies in high school fixing up his Mustang GT to run at the local strip on the weekends. Not bad for a car that was pretty much stock except for the slicks, exhaust, and shifter. Managed a couple of 2nd place finishes in class.

During my military career I had a tough time following the IRL, drag racing, and NASCAR racing as TV wasn’t always available where I was and the number of magazines were limited. Every so often they’d have a race on AFRTS when I was working the night shift. I’d listen to it as much as I could in between trips to the flightline to work on aircraft. During my tour in germany, I got a chance to see some F1 and rally car racing and even did a little rally car and dirt racing on the amateur level. Still, it didn’t kill my desire for NASCAR.

Once I got back to the States from my final overseas tour, I started watching racing on TV again. It sure was strange seeing a red #27 T-bird with Mickey D as a sponsor running. I also saw the Truck Series race in Portland where they ran a road course race and seeing the #3 truck running out of gas on the back part of the track. The races were exciting and there was still some semblance of the cars looking like the street versions.

Once I retired from serving Uncle Sam, I started watching races every weekend and enjoyed the old ESPN and TNN coverage. Every driver had a story which was told and just about every car got shown. Once Fox got into the game, that’s when things started going downhill with teams or their sponsors having to pay mention money to get on TV. When the last of the T-Birds was retired, the last car that resembled it’s street counterpart was gone. It was the era of the Twisted Sister car and 4 door FWD cars being passed off as 2 door RWD cars. This is also when the behind the scenes manipulation really started becoming apparent to me. In 1999, I was able to get my foot in the door by accident and work with a team. 3rd greatest time of my life behind my son being born and the 1964 Firecracker 400. At least at the time. In 2000, I got to work with a Truck Series team. Made some good friends and still stay in touch with them. Unfortunately age took it’s toll on me and that team closed its’ doors.

Once Bill France Jr stepped down, things have gone to hell in a handbasket and keep getting worse. I think the empty grandstands that started to appear several years before the economy was being used as an excuse pretty much says a lot. The COT and its poor performance and IROC-like looks have contributed. The play-off system is just another form of manipulation to try to make things exciting that aren’t. The mystery debris cautions which had been going on since the 90′s really started getting noticed by the fans. The multiple GWC finishes to further try to artificially excite things and manipulate the races were added. The sport has drifted so far from it’s original roots of racing stock cars and may the best man win on race day that it’s not even funny.

Yeah, I’m an old fart. But it’s us old farts who remember the sport for what it was and are disappointed in what it has become. The motorized version of the WWE.

17 Kevin August 3, 2010 at 8:47 am

I’m younger than most if not all of the people who have commented so far (I’m 25), but I have been a fan for nearly all of my life and I tend to be more old-fashioned and traditional. I don’t like the chase or a lot of the other newer rules and I still miss North Wilkesboro and Rockingham!

Is it necessarily bad when just a few cars finish on the lead lap? One race that I remember fondly was the fall 2003 race at Rockingham where 10 cars finished on the lead lap. Tony Raines, driving the underfunded #74 team and with an uncertain future, drove hard all day and earned his impressive sixth-place finish. You don’t see things like that much anymore with the rules we have today. And more lead-lap cars doesn’t equate to better racing. If anything, the racing may be worse because drivers are more afraid to take risks near the front. Think about it like this: If I’m running 3rd and there are only 5 cars on the lead lap, I might take more of a risk to get the win knowing I’ll still get a top-5 as long as I don’t do too much damage! But if there are 30 cars on the lead lap, I’d probably drive conservatively to try to make sure I don’t make a mistake and wind up 30th instead of 3rd. This is a perspective NASCAR desperately needs to see. I’m in favor of the lucky dog, but nothing else. I liked the wave-around rule when it first came out, but I have since discovered that it creates a lot of problems and makes the early stages of the race even more irrelevant. Maybe a compromise could work–give those cars half a lap back. The leader still gets to restart in clean air, but those drivers will get less of an advantage if they only get to restart in the middle of the backstretch.

In addition, parity has had the unintended consequence of making it harder to pass. I think we saw more passing in the past because the cars had more differences between them. If you’re a lot faster than another guy, it makes passing easier. When everybody’s running about the same speed, you may have cars that are closer together on the track, but that doesn’t really matter if it’s a lot harder to pass.

In response to Vicki’s comments…I love NASCAR not because of the sanctioning body, but because of the drivers–both past and present. I offer criticism because I want it to be better, to survive and persevere. I think that’s the way a lot of long-time fans feel. If we didn’t care, we would remain silent and walk away. But I believe NASCAR can still have a bright future if they will listen and make some of the changes that long-time fans suggest!

18 Keith Hyer August 3, 2010 at 8:52 am

I am truly an old fart: 75 years old. I have followed Nascar racing since the 1950′s I saw Lee Petty and all of the big name drivers race at Old Bridge N.J. and also on dirt at Langhorne, PA when the Hudson Hornet was king of the road. My biggest gripe with Nascar now is the “greed” of those running the show in recent years; namely Brian France. Poor little rich boy could not fill the shoes of his father or grandfather. They appreciated their fan base. I quit going to Daytona after I was forced to buy Saturday tickets in order to keep my 500 tickets. I did it for a couple of years but that stinks in my opinion. If I wanted to see the Saturday race I would purchased tickets for it; not had it rammed down my throat. By the way I saw my first Daytona 500 in 1967 (I think) and Mario Andretti won it. Thanks for the opportunity to vent.

19 J.J. August 3, 2010 at 9:13 am

Let’s start with “The Chase” which what most old (and even some new) fans seem to hate. When was last time, in any Cup Championship format, that the Championship was in doubt until after the last face of the season was finish?

Waiting…

Besides the year that Kurt Busch won it, it had been a very long time, maybe since Alan Kulwicki won it, right?
And before that?

Waiting…

Yep. It’s pretty rare for the Championship to be decided b the last race of the season–generally, the Championship has been wrapped up at least three races before the season ender.

So, what’s with the complaint with the Chase? Thee really shouldn’t be one. I mean, even under the old format it wasn’t likely (awww who am I kidding, it was impossible) that the guy in 10th place in the standings in August would win it all when the season ended.

At least under the Chase format there’s a reason to watch the last ten races of the season, there might be a miracle upset and number 10 might win the Cup–though it’s just as likely that whoever wins it all has done so by the midway point of the Chase.

Again, I ask. What’s the problem with the Chase? It’s no real change from previous championship formats, except it’s condensed into 10 races and there are less drivers racing for the Cup (though, not really, as I pointed out above).

Nascar’s problem really is saturation. They’ve saturated the market place, gone away from their base into markets that could care less about auto racing, let alone stock car racing…

The races themselves are dull–but I wonder, are they really? In the “old” days of Petty, Pearson, Yarborough, Allison, Baker, et all the races weren’t that close and whoever won (outside the occasional upside of “who the hell is that guy?”) usually did so by a decent margin often having lapped most of the field by race end. Sounds pretty dull to me.

And the cars? Yeah, in the old days they looked like “stock” cars you’d go to the showroom and buy, but if you did that today you’d be seeing Nisson, Infiniti, Kia, Hyundai et al in the starting lineup at races. Pontiac, Buick, even AMC and Plymouth are dead.

Change is inevitable.

Drivers? Today’s drivers stack up well against Petty, Pearson, Allison, Yarborough, et all. They’re just as talented, maybe more so in some ways.

So, really, I don’t get the beef about what’s wrong with Nascar? I don’t think there’s anything wrong–except maybe the 24/7 saturation and coverage of the sport. Nascar has been in down cycles before, it’ll come back and go into a negative spin again…

Cycles come and go, that’s just the way it is. There’s no need to panic over it.

20 leonard August 3, 2010 at 9:16 am

64,right on Madman,this punk they got running the show has it part M-TV,Gangsta’,WWE,and, believe it or not ,I feel its too big.Remember its all bottom line.There is no desire to watch,it will be replayed many times ,you wear people out with this stuff.Every hang nail,every toe stub,every time Dale Jr. wipes his nose they gang up to get the dirty tissue he used.The thing has gotten monotonous,like last week when we talked about all the announcers and the set-ups and after race crap,some people might like it but they,Nascar, doesn’t leave you wanting more ,not in about 12 years.The IROC was actually even better racing,less cars more action,less time tied up.Hit it and Git it and Go Home.Thats what they tried to do but failed,Nascar that is .Here is whats needed,go back to the older set-ups open up the suspension deals let ‘em run whatever they want,weight,the body dimensions,engine size,the things they need,but give the ingenuity back to the mechanics,rules on the basics as I stated and now on the track stuff,No more lucky dogs,no more GWC,the pits are open EVERY lap,never close the pits, No speeding penalties on pit road after 75% of the race,yeah I know,but you wanta’ bring the fans back,too many rules,too many empty seats,but when the seats are full does this benefit the drivers,NO.It benefits Nascar,so they are cutting their own throats and can’t see it.The less they are bothered they the powers that be like it.It seems they have just about ruled themselves outa’ business,so let it go into drink and Mr.Smith won’t have to go Washington,he can go to Daytona and take over tomorrow and he can and he will, Oh!Happy Day! I can’t wait.This is the best day this site has ever had since I joined,thanks for writing about this John it was really needed,now if the Daytona Dummies would only read it and take it heart,the real fans are on this site,you’d better believe it.

21 mert7878 August 3, 2010 at 10:16 am

I’m with J.J. I think most of the wistful laments for the old days don’t really remember the old days as they actually were.

I’m sorry, but it wasn’t particularly exciting seeing a small handful of cars, sometimes only one, finish on the lead lap. Watching a bunch of cars go round and round not racing for position is no more exciting in person than it is on TV.

There was also a much bigger gap between the haves and the have-nots. Today a much larger number of cars are competitive. In the old days you’d be lucky if five cars stood a chance of winning any particular race. Today, a dozen or more cars could, either on their own or with pit strategy and little luck, win any given race.

In 1971 there were 11 different winners in 48 races, with two drivers [Petty & B. Allison] accounting for 33 wins [69%]. Last year there were 14 different winners in just 36 races, with the top two [Johnson & Martin] accounting for 12 wins [33%]. That, it seems to me, is a lot more exciting.

The fact of the matter is, NASCAR has to sell their product on TV. As Willie Sutton would say, “that’s were the money is.” And, that means appealing to a younger demographic. NASCAR and most of the sponsors are not marketing to those of us in the over-the-hill gang.

Watching Richard Petty go round and round and lap the field, as he did 10 times in 1971 [twice by 4 laps!!], is not going to excite the 24-36 year olds who are buying the Coors Light.

There’s a lot NASCAR can do to improve its current package [shorten races, eliminate boring tracks, improve the COT], but going back to the “good ‘ole days” ain’t among them.

22 Jim August 3, 2010 at 10:22 am

List of changes:
1. Fix the plate track situation – an ongoing issue – they need to run the races without plates – if that means wholesale changes even to the track banking so be it.
2. The Chase decreases the value of individual races – if you want people to show up the race needs to be the focus each weekend. That might mean reducing the number of races if you want full grandstands.
3. CoT……..I like alot of what it tried to do with safety, less wiggle room for aero, etc. But the attempt to reduce overall downforce and get rid of dreaded aero-push failed….badly. What they did for the Nationwide CoT is a step in the right direction for branding.
4. The area of engineering focus seems to be in suspension and shocks. Outlaw it all – you have to use “stock” springs and shocks. And they won’t be Penske racing shocks – think Monroe Matic baby.
5. Reduce the horsepower, and update the engine technology (aka fuel injection).

The CoT put a huge premium on 2 things – engines and “shock packages”. Attack those areas to reduce the “Hendrick” advantage.

23 Lone Gunman August 3, 2010 at 10:25 am

I’m 65 and have been interested in NASCAR since I was around 10 when me and my Dad would listen to the races on the radio. I went to my first race at Darlington in 1963 only to watch Junior Johnson have engine problems and drop out. Sat on row 1 and got covered up with rubber. Yup, learned that one quick.

But concerning the (sic) “New NASCAR”, I’ll have to agree with a previous poster who commented on the incompetence of the current management. You don’t try to fix something that isn’t broke and someone needs to explain this to France! He reminds me of the spoiled snot nosed rich kid type that knows everything and nothing. Worse yet, he has surrounded himself with those that won’t tell him what he really is! Big Bill would be appalled at what has happened to NASCAR today!

The chase sux, just no other way to put it! NASCAR championships have always been to highlight the most consistent team throughout the entire season, not just the last 10 races without even a road course?

And don’t get me started on this COT stuff, ie, they all look the same? If this is such a good idea, please tell me why the IROC series died out?

And a final note, (IROC again) take the gloves off these Crew Chief’s!

24 matt August 3, 2010 at 10:31 am

Why does NASCAR give teams an automatic starting spot if they don’t run fast enough? Though young, only 29, I’ve been a fan since the early ’90s. In my opinion, the only people that should be granted a starting spot in the races are those 43 fastest cars during qualifying. Don’t get me wrong, having your “superstars” in the field each week is good for the show, but why not add drama and meaning to practice and qualifying? And, if the teams that make the show pull a “start and park”, NASCAR should park them from qualifying for the next few races. There are plenty of teams that could run these races if there weren’t 35 spots already “gifted” to the stars of the sport. My feeling is, if they are good enough to be in the top 35 in points, then they will probably make the race anyway. And, if Jimmie or Jeff or Dale or any of those “superstars” misses a race, is it really that bad for the sport? No more provisionals, no more gifted starting spots, racing is racing, plain and simple.

Along those lines, what is with these “desbris” cautions? If there’s desbris on the track, show it! If not, own up to the name, and call it a show caution! Back in the day, you never saw them throw these cautions because the leader was about to lap the 5th place guy on the track. That’s the racing that built this sport we all love, isn’t it time to go back to it?

There used to be a time when I would tell people I was a NASCAR fan, now when I tell people that, they laugh at me. They always say the same thing, “why watch a bunch of cars go in a cirle? And, aren’t those races fixed anyway?” It’s a sad state for the sport that has been so good to so many people. I hope the France family will actually take a look at some of the points that many of us make here and walk away with some sort of thought about what will actually make the fans happy again.

25 Andy Leblanc August 3, 2010 at 11:28 am

First off, I agree with your article. I have been watching NASCAR, since 1987.

First off, the chase needs to go or redo it. Eliminating it would be better. If not, then shorten the chase to 5 races. Superspeedway, short track, 2 mile track, Road Coarse and 1.5 mile track, done. Top ten guys are in it. The top 10 guys receive top ten points during the course of the chase, to keep the points tight together throughout the 5 races reguardless where they run during the race. All 43 drivers also run the remaining races. Basically having their own points system. Also, don’t crown a champion here, I would call it the NASCAR all star series and get rid of the all star race in May. The real champion is crowned before the series starts. But, like I said, IMO, I would get rid of it.

Shorten the races, they are way to long. Make the 500 milers to 400 and the 400 to 300 milers.

Shorten the season from 36 to 31. Cut the season shorter will make the Fans, much more hungrier for more once the season starts.

Get rid of the COT. Why did they go to the IROC series in NASCAR? There was no reason why they could not incorporate all of the safety of the COT into the older cars.

Brian France should also step down, he has clearly shown he has lost touch with his FANS.

26 Kevin August 3, 2010 at 11:56 am

J.J., a while back I did some research regarding how close championship battles were prior to the chase (covering the years 1990-2003). The results? 6 of those years featured runaway champions with final margins of 195, 444, 364, 201, 265, and 349 points. However, more frequently (in 8 of those seasons), the margins were much closer: 26, 10, 80, 34, 37, 14, 38, and 90.

I wouldn’t say NASCAR needs to go way back to how things were in the beginning. But going back to the way things were done in the 1980s or 1990s would be better than what we are seeing today, at least in my opinion.

27 Sean August 3, 2010 at 12:01 pm

I am 43. I got into Nascar in 1989 when I was stationed in Charleston, SC and my Chief took me to Darlington. I had always thought it was a boring sport; just cars going around in circles. When I actually attended a race I was hooked.
As for the sport today, as everyone knows, it has changed dramatically in 20 years. I do like how they have the double file restarts only because it adds excitement to a sometimes boring race. I have wondered, however, how many races more races would Rusty or Sr. or DW have won or lost using the double file restart. Do drivers, today, who have won under this rule, rank up there with these guys when it comes to wins? Does Kyle Busch’s wins rank up there with Mark’s in the Nationwide races? Kyle has a lot of wins but how many has he won because of the double file restart?

28 200mph twister August 3, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Hi all, this is my opinion of how it should be ran. Lets go back to the way racing was in the late 80′s early 90′s. let the teams build the chassis and massage the quarter panels but keep the big cocoons for driver safety. Let NASCAR have templates for the roof line and deck lid while supplying a “stock approved” nose for the car. Regulate the cubic inches of the motor and the weight. Let the team engineers figure out ways of acquiring speed by manipulating the rule book. And lastly, remove the restrictor plates. Ernhardt told everyone years ago that if race car drivers thought they were going too fast, stay on the porch. You can always add higher catch fencing!

29 SalB August 3, 2010 at 1:03 pm

I’m 61 and have been following Nascar since the ‘Wide World’ days. Those ‘runaway’ races were what hooked me on the sport. The drivers, the crew chief’s, the innovations, all kept me interested. Today, not so much. The ‘Chase’ is a faliure. If the media wonder why fans haven’t been impressed with Jimmy Johnson’s 4 titles in a row, I’d say it’s because they were all won under the new system. Stroking for points during the first 26 races isn’t compelling, and the fact that the top 12 are written in stone (except for final order) just makes the final 10 races flat. The COT may be safer (many of those innovations could have been done with the ‘old’ car, and a single template would have taken care of the twisted bodies), but it’a a racing dud. The ‘lucky dog’ and wave around rule also keep drivers stroking along without haveing to drive hard. Having so many parts and pieces dictated or supplied by Nascar have kept innovation out of the sport.

30 John T. August 3, 2010 at 1:30 pm

hello john.. You talk about the old fans, casual fans, new fans, i want to know what you consider me. I’m only 16 years old and when im home i havn’t missed a race since i was 3 years old. My favorite time being with my family, especially with my dad was in 2000 when Earnhardt won at Talladega.. I was young back then so I didnt know when they raced at certain tracks, and i always got so excited when my dad said he’s not doing anything because Bristol is on tonight. My dad hardly ever missed the race. now it seems he just watches the last 20 laps. I think NASCAR has gotten away from the family aspect. That is a great view of yours on so much focus about the championship. The race itself should be more important then the championship. Yes, they talked about it back then, but not as much as they do now.. NASCAR wants to be like stick and ball sports compared to championships, but there not. NASCAR needs to look at the 80′s and 90′s because in my opinion you’ve lost that view on NASCAR.

31 Jonathan August 3, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Ill make this short and sweet been a Nascar fan since 04 and I love what there doing now and think the racing is the best its been! Pocono reminded me of Iowa at some times and thats a great thing shows the drivers are driving there hearts out! Nascar pulled on of its biggest ratings on ESPN for the pocno race so hey things are on the up and up, and with the changes coming to the car this is just going to get better! Love this article appreciate that you write from both ends of fans! I guess you could say im a new hardcore fan I dont mind anything from Arca, trucks, Nationwide, and Sprint Cup! They have kept my ATTENTION and will do so till I die~ Nothing and I mean nothing compaires to Nascar!

Face it guys Nascar will never let things be like it was in the 70′ and 80′s! way to much cheating was going on and it made the racing BBBOORRIINNGGG! Heck I just got done reading DW’s book and he talks how he would win races by 2 laps ahead of the leader! Oh yeah sounds like we should go back to though days right eveyone??? HA NO THANKS this is 2010 not 1980 thank you

32 Vicki August 3, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Sometimes, I wish I wasn’t the type to really dive into things. I discovered NASCAR and fell in love. If I’d just watched the races and kept my nose out of all the discussion groups and website comments, I’d have been happily under the illusion that all those 100,000′s of people who go to the races and watch on t.v. in the course of the year do it because they love their sport too. Instead, I mostly find that so many fans hate the cars, the drivers, the tracks, the rules, the Chase, their Champion, the sanctioning body…… I think a lot of “old” fans look back thru nostalgic rose-colored glasses.

33 oldnascar August 3, 2010 at 3:56 pm

My screen name says it all. i been following NASCAR snice 1959. Back then it was a little hard to follow living in the North.
Nascar should do away with the chase to start. Harvick will lose the Championship because of it.He will go from frist to about 3rd or 4th when when the chase starts.

Do away with the top 35 locked in!!. top 43 race the rest go home. if one of NASCARS SUPERSTARS dont make it too bad. this would shake up the point standings for sure.

The cars rely to much on Areo.. do way with it. let the drivers show how they can drive, like they had too in the OLD DAYS. that it what the gas and brakes are for.
No set angle spec for the rear spoiler. if the driver wants less angle for more speed.. go for it.

I also hate the debris cautions. they have enough spotters around the track to tell if it is a piece of foam rubber or sheet metal.

I dislike the PC line the drivers have to give. even the networks are just as bad. tell it like it is even it is about NASCAR ( hope i don’t get fined)

DO away with CUP drivers running Nationwide fulltime. I would give them one more to run in Nationwide when they move up to the Cup level

34 dawg August 3, 2010 at 4:08 pm

I want to thank everyone who took the time to give us your thoughts. I haven’t tried to answer anyone, because there wasn’t really much I could add. You’ve covered things well, as I knew you would.

@ John T
You’ve asked a question, so here’s your answer. Quite simply, I consider you the future of NASCAR! You’re soon to be in the demographic group that advertisers covet. However you can’t do this all by yourself. What you could do is get a group of friends together to watch the races. Maybe next year if they’ve shown interest, get your own group at Yahoo in a fantasy league. This adds interest to even otherwise dull races. In fact this is good advice for anyone who’s interest is waining a bit.

35 Randy August 3, 2010 at 4:22 pm

You hit the nail on the head with this article! Good job! I’m only 26, but have been watching the races since 1990 and I can tell that the racing is going downhill. What attracted me to the sport were cars that actually looked like ones in the showroom, the drivers were great, with the diversity being focused on the race tracks, the personalities and talent of the drivers, instead of their ethnic background, gender or nationality and the great drivers stayed racing. When you had bad drivers, they actually went away. Back then start-and-parks didn’t survive very long like they do now. They actually had to race and prove themselves to get a sponsor. The one thing I didn’t like about the old cars were the lack of safety advances like the new ones now possess, but the cars looked more like an actual car. The rules then allowed teams to be creative in getting a competitve edge over other cars. The drivers and cars that dominated were given credit for how they did over the whole season, not just the last 10 races. If one looks at the points and compares the old format to the new format as shown on Jayski, at the end of the season, you would still have mulitple contenders for the championship and it would force everybody to be at their best during the whole season, not just be mediocre and then pour it on in the last 10 races. As for differences between drivers, they would be settled on the track or in the pits, without fines being issued. Those days were days where it was actually about racing, competition, not about an entertaining circus show like it is now. Bill France Jr. was more sincere on how to advance the sport without hurting the racing with the exception of restrictor plates, but Brian France cares more about the money coming in than the racing, and he has done nothing but hurt the organization and its image. There are certain races and contests that are traditional, like the Southern 500, and what used to be the Winston Million, that attracted fans, and most of those have been eliminated. Right now, its not racing, its a circus where the focus is on keeping side-by-side action at whatever the cost, and it will continue to get worse like with cautions being thrown over phantom debris to bunch up the field. How can it be improved? Replace Brian France with someone who actually cares about racing. The CoT should be changed to where there is no common template design, and the design is that of a regular car that can be bought off the dealer’s lot, kind of like what has been done to the Nationwide Series CoT, thereby retaining the larger greenhouse and advances so that safety isn’t compromised. The spec 5.8L carbed engine should be done away with and the manufacturers should enter the engine size they currently build for their cars, such as the 4.6L V8, or 3.5L V6 ecoboost for Ford, and likewise for Toyota, GM, and Dodge. This would eliminate the restrictor plate issue and the horsepower would be reduced without superficially changing the cars to slow down the cars to the point where they all go the same speed. If one manufacturer has a dominant design/engine combination, then its up to the other manufacturers to out-do each other to ensure good competition and performance on the track and in car sales. Unfortunately that’s not the focus of NASCAR leadership. They would rather fine the drivers for speaking out, to shut them up and sweep it under the rug and enjoy the money they get off the current fan base rather than work to make the racing better to attract a larger base. They should instead listen to what the drivers have to say. After all, they’re the ones out there risking their lives on the track.

36 f e dup August 3, 2010 at 5:57 pm

a race [not show ] fan since 1956. i hate the crap they try to push now. when was the last time you saw tiny lund , leroy yarbourgh , and tom pistone giving kids rides in their race cars after a race [ not show] ? no pr crap , just love of what they were doing . them were the people that made fans .

37 Harrison August 3, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Im 19 years old and have been addicted to nascar since i was 7. Regardless of my age id consider myself a hardcore fan i havent missed a race since 2003. For me the good ol days were back in 2004-2006 when the racing was incredible, the crowds were huge, the cars were beautiful, and the tv coverage was excellent. Now we have bland racing that takes everything short of an inversion to make it halfway decent, half filled grandstands due to high ticket prices and a rough economy, ugly race cars, and horrible tv coverage.

The COT is the biggest reason. Even with the spoiler the car is tremendously ugly. It looks awkward going around the track it doesnt look like a race car or a street car. We liked our cars when they were sleek and sexy with the bodies built for speed, not like the schoolbus the COT is today.

When espn came in 07 it was terrible, but understandable. Since they hadnt covered races in so long the first year was pretty much a disaster before they started. we all kept waiting on them to turn the corner…and 4 years later they still dont get it. Rusty and Brad bring down the pre race shows with there unintellegent commentary and Marty Reid’s Dorky Play-by-play ruin the telecast. When will espn realize the one man who can turn this ship around is sitting in the pit studio: Allen Bestwick. Also FOX has ruined themselves by letting DW take over everything and turn the show into a giant soapbox for his opinions. FOX can fix themselves cause they had it right for so many years.

One more thing, 5 years ago in 2005 did we have double file restarts? mulitple green white checkers? wave arounds? phantom debris cautions? NO and we did not need them. We didnt need to manufacture excitement because excitement happened naturally due to the fact that the racing was awesome. All those things have helped our current situation but theyve also cheezed up the competition. Its becoming WWE with the oh so convienient “debris” cautions with 25 to go. And cars that run like crap all day play strategy due to wave arounds and late race cautions to steal top 10′s. And the races that go to multiple green white checkers when ever does the best car win? aint happened yet.

I guess im the minority in nascars eyes but i want to see a RACE not a SHOW. This is a sport not a soap opera. Let the drivers race. Let the drivers talk. Let the drivers fight. Bring back our old cars. Fire ESPN and bring back NBC (they were bad, but not espn bad), go back to 1 green white checkerd. Get rid of the wave around. Slash ticket prices. And come up with a schedule that doesnt have 2 weeks off in the month of march or 2 races at pocono even. NASCAR you said before this year you were going back to basics, here are your basics.

38 KB (no not that one or the other one) August 4, 2010 at 8:37 am

First is how the sport can be “improved” mainly for the fans. It involves the current scoring system. I’ve thought about this before but I think drivers should get points throughout the race based on track position and not for leading one stinking lap. I clearly haven’t thought this out much but here we go.

Instead you should get scored throughout the race at maybe 25 mile/lap intervals. If you lead the most laps in that period then you get bonus points. But if you are in 15th place then you get more points than the guy in 16th place. Thats more incentive throughout the race to move forward and would hopefully take out some of the boredom in the middle 200 miles/laps of each race.

My thinking is that if having a higher position on the track throughout the race gets you more points then the drivers will have to fight harder the entire race to get points. If you go a lap down then you don’t get nearly as much but you can still get back in the race with wave arounds and lucky dog. Don’t think they’ll get rid of those or the double file restarts anytime soon but if you want points then you better not go down a lap. This still rewards drivers who lead the most laps but is extra incentive to guys sitting in 15th position to get up to the 8th place.

You still get points based on where you finish and these should be more important than the points tallied up throughout the race. Of course the driver who wins the race should get considerably more points than the guy in second place. It could get pretty complicated I guess but there maybe an easy scoring solution.

I guess I would consider myself and new fan but have been familiar with the sport all my life. I’m 27 and a North Carolina native but now live in NYC. My grandfather was a big Ford and NASCAR fan and I grew up watching the races with him and listening on the radio when we visited his family in Virginia. I’ve been to races at Rockingham and Martinsville and vividly remember watching the first Brickyard race and Dale Jarret winning the Daytona 500. I remember the Davey Allison tragedy and watching Richard Petty’s final race and his horrendous crash at Daytona. However I never took a huge interest in the sport until 2007 the year after my grandfather passed away. Maybe it was nostalgia on my part. He stopped paying much attention to NASCAR probably around 2002 or 2003 cause he didn’t like where it was going. It was also a way to reconnect with my Southern roots up here in the North even though the sport is no longer as Southern as it used to be.

2007 and 2008 weren’t exactly good years for NASCAR and 2009 wasn’t much better. That isn’t news to anybody here. This year has been exciting though compared to the past several years and its good to see that NASCAR is considering ways to make the sport better.

39 mert7878 August 4, 2010 at 9:09 am

KB -

I love your during-the-race points idea. If done right, it can make the races more exciting and bring lots of different strategies into play. I hope France is paying attention.

40 KB (no not that one or the other one) August 4, 2010 at 2:16 pm

I think the Chase needs to go or should be seriously revamped (only after its been thought about long and hard). But like others here also I don’t think a return to the good ol’ days would be the best for the sport. Something more like the 80s and 90s is where it needs to be.

I do see the perspective of the people who think the Chase is good or think it can stay. It makes each race important points wise and it makes consistency even more important. However, like other people have stated, the Chase marginalizes the 26 races that aren’t part of the Chase and the Championship is more important than winning individual races.

The consistency that the Chase and the championship creates has taken away from the excitement. Drivers battling to win individual races is the most exciting aspect of the sport. You do get seeded in the Chase based on your wins but really teams are going for the points you get for winning. You want to see drivers take risks and put it all on the line to cross the finish line first. I don’t mean doing dangerous things all the time or trying to kill each other but they are driving at high speeds and no matter how safe the cars and track are its still a dangerous sport. (I mean from some of the highlight reels feature Richard Petty, as dominating as he was, he had quite a few close finishes and still took risks on the last couple of laps. Sometimes he won, sometime he didn’t and wrecked. That doesn’t seem to happen as much unless its GWC.)

All of this is in total conflict with the Chase. Guys still take risks but its all about the points. NASCAR has to find a way to make the Championship important without making the individual races forgettable. Otherwise NASCAR needs to man up and say the Chase was wrong and get rid of it. It was a show before the Chase for sure but but it wasn’t just for show as it seems today.

41 modified7 August 4, 2010 at 3:55 pm

I have read most all the reasons nascar should change certain rules. I agree with most of them. No GWC, No wave around, No lucky dog. No guaranteed top 35 starters. Some have complained that a championship should only be granted if a driver has won a race. That is rediculus. This sport has been build on consistency and should remain that way. I don’t care if the driver has won a race or not, but he was consisant in aquiring the points needed and that would entitle him to be a champion. It is all about taking chances and making tough calls to get the best finish. Another thing, someone said “If Hornish won sunday at Pocono he would the laffing stock of nascar. These races are hard to win! You need to take that chance when given. Think for a moment, you have a caution, most all cars make a pit stop. A couple of cars don’t and they restart up front, especially if only 10-15 laps to go,and one of them wins the race. He has been in the back half all day and now he has won the race. That would be creditable. Because they (the Team) took a gamble. That is what racing is about.

42 BikeGuy August 4, 2010 at 7:26 pm

I think most people forget (or never knew) that NASCAR started out running modifieds. Then William H. G. France had the idea to run what was initially called the “Strictly Stock” division. Or maybe he had that idea all along but he had to organize the modifieds first because that was what everyone was running at the time. At any rate, the “Strictly Stock” division was an instant hit with the fans because they got to see the same cars that they bought and drove every day running on the track. Fans loved it. I have an idea that they would still love it but, obviously, they don’t get to see that anymore.

Go to some of the museums and look at the cars that they used to run. Not saying that innovative crew chiefs/mechanics might not have snuck in performance enhancing “modifications” but those cars were basically right off the showroom floor. It was fun to root for the make of car you drove. Then, in the late sixties or early seventies, Ralph Moody rightly convinced Big Bill France to allow purpose made chassis because they were so much safer than the stock chassis. But the rest of the car was still stock.

“Stock car racing” was fun in those days and it would still be fun if they raced stock cars. It was fun watching to see if Ford would build an aerodynamiclly slicker car than Chevrolet or if Chevy would have a stronger engine than Dodge, etc. It’s no fun watching a “NAScar” compete against another “NAScar” with different manufacturer decals. NASCAR should keep the purpose built chassis for driver safety but everything else, body panels, engines, running gear, even tire configuration should be right off the showroom floor. Then it would be fun again.

What Brian France should do is to reinvent the “Strictly Stock” division and most of NASCAR’s woes would go away.

Cotton

43 KB (no not that one or the other one) August 5, 2010 at 6:23 am

modified7 -

I almost mentioned Hornish and the risks his team took. I really enjoyed Pocono on Sunday. Its these kinds of risks I’m talking about. The last 20-30 laps were great. However, I’m not sure he would’ve done that if he was in the top 15 or so in points and that’s the problem with the Chase. Plus he’d just pitted prior to that. If Jeff Gordon or Denny Hamlin pitted for fuel only then that would’ve been some serious risk taking in order to win the race because they had so much more to lose points wise if they finished 15 or worse.

I have to disagree with you about the whole consistency thing though. The sport has evolved in a way that consistency is more important than winning but I don’t think the sport was built on being consistent. It used to be all about winning. Only when the schedule was shortened and teams could compete in all the races did consistency become so important. Now the Chase has made consistency way more important than winning since there is essentially a reset at the start of the Chase.

BikeGuy

I’ve sadly missed a few opportunities to go and see modifieds race. That is the true beginning of NASCAR and people also forget that the first NASCAR sanctioned race was on a road course. There is also link between road course racing and the bootleggers who were present early on. Junior Johnson didn’t learn how to race on an oval. He cut his teeth turning right and left.

44 John T. August 5, 2010 at 8:58 am

Thanks John i really appreciate you answering me.. read your articles all the time! I’ll take your advice.

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