The NFL has center stage this week, but it won't be long until NASCAR replaces it. The night before the big game, the green flag drops on the 2010 season, with the exhibition Bud Shootout the precursor to next Sunday's season-opener. Saturday also marks
In the meantime, don't forget to keep the mailbag full with your questions and comments. As always, I'm taking your emails at
We'll start the week with a football analogy, reaction to the story of a NASCAR underdog who was tackled for a tragic loss before the games even begin. My
I hear this gripe a lot. In NASCAR's defense, JJ really hasn't gotten off "scot free:" Crew chief
But I also see where fans are coming from, too. Four years ago in a Chase race, Johnson and
There's that old philosophy that everyone is created equal, with standard punishments across the board for repeat offenses. But for a CoT template violation in the summer of 2007, Knaus was given a six-race suspension and $100,000 fine. (
But not everyone is completely on the Long bandwagon:
Good points, John. But what would you do if your dream was shattered and your life savings destroyed all in one fell swoop? It's not so easy to give up when your future hangs in the balance. To a certain extent, you've got to understand Carl's push to keep his dream afloat even during work hours; it's a major problem that would require most people to take a leave of absence.
But Carl didn't do that. In fact, he still performed at a high level at his regular job. So it all boils down to what type of boss you want to be at the end of the day. Do you want to penalize someone who gets their work done, yet talks on the phone for four hours in between? Or keep someone who's not as good, but puts in 40 hours a week?
I think nowadays, it's all about getting the job done -- something that, by all accounts, Carl was doing. But that's just my opinion.
The France family isn't rolling in the dough as much as you think, Ray. A 10 percent cut in purses to the Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Trucks (announced Friday) wasn't so much an economic adjustment as it was a reaction to empty seats: only 80 percent of ISC race tickets available were sold compared to 90-95 percent in previous years. The reason is a combination of the economy and the quality of the racing, and everyone agrees those things must improve before fans start spending money in 2010.
But your estimate of 25-30 fully funded teams is a little low, as the Cup garage is back on the upswing this year. It looks like we've got about 40 factory-backed teams in 2010, leaving room for two-to-three start-and-parkers who run a few laps only to collect the cash.
But the Nationwide Series, NASCAR's equivalent of AAA baseball, is cause for concern. A handful of teams still try to run off purse money, and the tighter squeeze without reductions in tire and engine costs might encourage more start-and-parkers or cars to leave the sport altogether. Someone predicted last week that there will be a race where half the field (21-22 cars) in a Nationwide race this spring will pull off within the first 50 laps. That's not a healthy series, and NASCAR's got to find a way to cap costs and close the gap between rich and poor.
Ken, the five-point bonus for leading a lap has been around since the Latford point system debuted in 1975. That's not a gimmick that came with the Chase, and it leads to different strategies on race day. If you're choosing to lead a lap under caution, it means you're staying off pit road while all the other cars in front of you make your stop. The consequences are spending the next green flag run on older tires than everyone else, or making a late pit stop under yellow that costs you track position and puts you toward the back of the lead lap.
That's a wrinkle worth keeping. But I do agree that winning should be worth more. Right now, if you finish second and lead the most laps, there's just a 10-point difference between you and the winner. Is that really enough to go the extra mile when a wreck could lead to a DNF that costs you a playoff spot?
So, I'm in favor of a 50-point bonus for wins and a bigger difference between second, third, fourth and fifth. There should be a way to push drivers into being more aggressive at the end instead of just settling for finishes, and if we're keeping the Chase, that's the best way to do it.