If you’ve been reading here any length of time, you know I really try to be a fair-minded guy. A number of the moves made by NASCAR that many of you decry, I’ve tried to see from the other point of view. I get the idea behind the CoT and the Chase, and also the attempt to grow the sport into other markets. I don’t think the execution has always been handled well, but that’s another story for another time, and you can’t please everyone.
At the same time, Brian France’s pronouncement that there would be “impactful” changes to the 2011 Sprint Cup schedule was something I anticipated philosophically. I figured it might be like Jeff Foxworthy’s assessment of getting ready to change a dirty diaper: “It’s like getting a Christmas present from your grandma. You don’t know what’s inside, but you’re pretty sure not gonna like it.”
Sorry, Mr. France, but I must shake my head. Yeah, I know I’m chiming in with the media that Tony Stewart says is the cause of doom and gloom in NASCAR, but so what? He is not hesitant to call a spade a spade and so am I. At least what I am going to do is attempt to propose a solution. It’s one that no one in any position of power will listen, but hey, it’s my opinion, and it’s not better or no worse than yours.
It would take forever to go through all the changes you could make to the full season schedule, so I will focus on the Chase. yes, I know many of you would just as soon do away with it. I won’t disagree, but assuming that’s going nowhere, the least we can do is examine how we might make NASCAR’s “showtime” schedule better.
If your “playoff” is going to be a big deal, you’ve got to start it at a signature track. Let’s start the Chase at Darlington. Yep, let’s give them back a second date and start the Chase on a Saturday night. From there, test their mettle on the concrete of the Monster Mile at Dover.
From there, I’d head west to Sonoma. Yes, it’s time to put a road course in the Chase, and the early Fall feels pretty good in Northern California. Then it’s south to Arizona for a race in Phoenix on a one miler with nice proximity to the SoCal market. I’d do this one on a Saturday night to avoid issues with the heat.
Now, it’s time for the thrills and spills of Talladega. You’ve got to have one of the super speedways there, and it does throw a bit of an “X” factor into the Chase.
Now, we’re at the halfway through the Chase, and to kick off it’s second half, go to the heart of NASCAR country at Charlotte. At this point, I’d consider some kind of bonus (cash or points) for the halfway leader, or if there has to be some form of elimination, have it happen at this race.
Then it’s off to Martinsville. The pressure is building up, so are the emotions and the track is a fan favorite. I’d be very intrigued at the possibility of running at Homestead after that. Now you’re going to need a warm weather venue. After that, go run that Saturday night race in Texas.
Then, let’s run the season finale at Las Vegas, home to the awards banquet. Sin City has all that you need to put a bow on the season in style.
You get a little bit of everything with this schedule: fan favorites (Darlington, Martinsville), a road course (Sonoma), a super speedway and casual fan favorite (Talladega), Saturday night racing and intermediates.
Now, that’s schedule changing with an impact. Now, if I really wnted to dream, I’d say throw in a dirt track and let’s get Iowa in there too. I’m sure my proposal needs some refinement, and there’s variables the powers that be have to think about that I don’t know, but this, in my mind makes a lot more sense than Chicagoland.