Posts Tagged ‘NASCAR fans’

NASCAR News: Changing the Points System

January 25, 2011

Welcome NASCAR fans to my NASCAR blog. I am not a reporter. I am simply a NASCAR fan. And have been a fan since I saw my first race in 1996. I am not a sports fan. I don’t care to watch football or baseball. But I love watching racing. And fell in love with NASCAR with that first race. I made it a point to learn everything about NASCAR, including how points were given in a race. I never cared how they were doing points-wise during the race. But I kept up with how points were earned and the system made perfect sense to me. If I were handing out points, I would give more to the driver who won. The driver with the most points at the end of the season, wins the trophy. Some years the points are closer than others. And at the end of the year, drivers raced in and out of the top ten in points. Only the top ten in points get to go to the banquet at the end of the year.

In 2003 Matt Kenseth collected the most points and was declared the Champion despite having only one win. At the last race of the year Terry Labonte raced into the top ten and Kurt Busch fell out of the top ten. And it was exciting watching Matt stay in the top ten every race and keep the points lead. Things changed after that 2003 season. And as a relatively long time and definitely Passionate fan, I don’t think the change was good for NASCAR.

In 2004, it was no longer Winston Cup, but Nextel Cup. And later became Sprint Cup. Despite the fact that the trophy was no longer a cup. And NASCAR fans were no longer good enough. More fans needed to be NASCAR fans. Football fans needed to be NASCAR fans. (I really have no idea what Brian’s thinking was. I just interpreted what he did in my own way.) NASCAR needed to have a playoff because all other sports have a playoff. And having a playoff was the only reason anyone watched sports to begin with.

So The Chase was born. The first 26 races were the “regular” season, where drivers raced to get into the chase. The last ten races were the chase where the best driver in those ten races was crowned Champion. Even if he didn’t have the most points in the season. Even if he didn’t have the most wins. It gave the tenth place team a chance to win it all. (My feelings were to ask why crowning a champion based on ten races and giving someone else a chance to win it all would be exciting.)

The first year Kurt Busch was crowned Champion. He was the driver the previous year who fell out of the top ten in that last race of the year. He had a good ten races and was champion. I thought, what a stupid way to crown a champion! Letting a tenth place team win. The next year Tony Stewart was champion. And I thought, what a stupid way to crown a champion – letting a driver who does good in the second half of the season win. And then came Jimmie Johnson. He figured out how to do well in the last ten races. He and crew chief, Chad Knous spend the first 26 races trying things out for the ten chase races. And he has won every championship since 2006.

Now I have to ask why this would be exciting. And I can’t think of why crowning a champion based on ten races would be more exciting than crowning a champion because he was the best all year.

Apparently, other fans felt the same way. The long time fans watched that first year. And thought it was stupid. NASCAR fans don’t want NASCAR to be like other sports. We were quite happy being a unique sport. This is racing, not stick and ball, after all. Television ratings have been going down since 2005 when the chase was now the way a champion was selected. And the ratings have been going down during those last chase races. NASCAR saw the ratings going down. They saw tracks not selling out any more for races. So they tweaked the chase. That didn’t help. Year after year it got worse and worse. The long time NASCAR fans were no longer watching. And the new fans aren’t NASCAR fans.

Now they want to keep the chase, but implement a new point system. The winner gets 43 points and last place gets 1 point. To make it easier for the fans to conceive how points are given. Only, the long time fans already liked the old points system. We all knew how they were given and were comfortable with it. No one had to explain to us how it went. We made a point of finding out because we were fans.

In NASCAR’s effort to gain more fans, they have forgotten  the fans that they once had. By manufacturing excitement. By deciding the last ten races needed to be more exciting than the rest of the season. By not letting the point leader actually win the championship. By making things easier for new fans, who aren’t going to stick around because NASCAR isn’t their Passion. Football fans call NASCAR the “roundy-rounds”. And I have to wonder why we need these fans watching instead of all the fans that were watching before the chase started.

My take on all this? I say put NASCAR back the way it was. It was well received the way it was. Those not in a playoff go home. Not so with NASCAR. All 43 drivers are still racing all the races. Except only 12 of them count. We are told who is in and who is out, after the Daytona 500, the first race of the year! The Daytona 500 used to be the Super Bowl of NASCAR. With the chase, I have to wonder what they are “chasing”. Certainly not to be in the Super Bowl. That was the first race.

What should NASCAR do? Get back to what NASCAR fans liked to begin with. What made the sport the best sport. Why NASCAR became so popular to begin with. Only give a lot more points for winning. That way Matt Kenseth can’t be champion with only one win. The chase is not working. It may be bringing in some fans. But it is chasing away the fans they already had. And shouldn’t those fans be more important than possible new fans? The system wasn’t broken when Brian tried to “fix” it. I say put it back so the long time fans can be Passionate again. Back to racing instead of hype. Dump the manufactured excitement and let us watch 43 drivers racing again. NASCAR is exciting. Racing has always been exciting. You can’t MAKE it so. It just is.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I love NASCAR.

NASCAR Racing: Old VS. New – A Fan Comment

January 23, 2011

Welcome NASCAR fans to my NASCAR blog. Racing for the 2010 season is over and racing for 2011 will not begin for another few weeks. More changes are on the horizon again. And I have to wonder how it got to the point where NASCAR needed to be changed almost every year. Why it needed to be changed at all. And why the constant tweaking? What was wrong with it to begin with?

I fell in love with NASCAR the very first race I ever saw. Now I have to wonder what about it made me like it and and ask myself how it can be better. I don’t see anything that could make it better. NASCAR racing is just the best sport out there. Always has been. Do they need to improve it to get more fans? Not that I can see. NASCAR was very popular in the late ’90’s and early 2000’s. NASCAR was getting more and more fans all the time.

One thing I liked about NASCAR was that it was not like other stick and ball sports. It wasn’t two teams playing each other. It is 43 teams racing on the track at the same time. And I have to admit, I love watching them going so fast and so close to each other. Racing itself is exciting to me. It’s a sport all on it’s own. Nothing else out there is like it. A beautiful, wonderful sport. I became a fan and showed others NASCAR. And they became fans. No one had to convince us racing was exciting. We saw a race and fell in love.

In my opinion that all changed when Brian France took over the reigns from his father, Bill, Jr. All of a sudden racing needed to be more exciting. And needed to compete with football to get the football fans watching. The last races of the season have NASCAR competing with football for television viewership. So they decided what NASCAR needed was it’s own playoff system. I admit I didn’t like the concept right from the beginning.

Racing to get into the chase is really no different than racing the first 26 races. Each race was always exciting watching everyone trying to win. Just because the announcers and reporters talk about how exciting it is, does not make it so. Racing by my definition is exciting, there is no need to tell me so.  The problem with the new system is that now NASCAR is no longer a unique sport. And I have to tell you as a NASCAR fan, I don’t like it trying to be football.  I liked it better when it was just NASCAR, the best sport.

The concept of the chase was to make the winner be the one with the most wins instead of having only one win like Matt Kenseth did in the final year of Winston Cup. It’s supposed to make the 26 race “regular” season more exciting because they are racing to get into the chase. And the last ten races they are chasing the championship. So far it has not done anything for ratings. In fact, since 2005 the year after the chase started, ratings have been steadily going down. Especially the last ten races. Why? I believe the long time fans don’t like the hype of the chase. There are 43 drivers in all 36 races, but in the last ten races only 10, now 12 drivers actually count. NASCAR fans are very faithful to their driver. If he didn’t make it into the chase, why bother to watch the last ten races? That’s fans of 31 drivers who are no longer interested in watching. No matter how great the announcers think the chase is, you can’t convince the long time fans that it is. So, instead of the chase bringing in more fans (and they may be doing so) the chase is chasing away the long time fans.

NASCAR is getting rid of the fans they once had by trying to capture more fans. This year they want to tweak the system again. And keep the chase. I say, get rid of the chase and talking about only twelve drivers and bring back the old points system where the driver with the most points wins the championship. Instead of the driver that is best in the last ten races. You can’t have a playoff in a sport with 43 drivers racing on all the tracks at the same time. It doesn’t make sense. Playoffs are for sports with divisions and leagues. NASCAR has neither.

Please, NASCAR, put it back to 36 races and the driver with the most points wins. And all 43 drivers count. Give more points for winning and the driver with the most wins should be leading the points. Instead of the is manufactured excitement of a playoff. And I believe if that happens and NASCAR is no longer about 12 drivers, the long time fans will come back. If the football fans don’t watch, who cares? It never used to matter. But the way it is, NASCAR is trying to find new fans at the expense of the long time fans. Wake up NASCAR. The fans want Sprint Cup to be about racing like the other NASCAR Series’. Not about a playoff like football.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley.

I love NASCAR. Thank you for listening.

NASCAR Race Review: Pepsi Max 400

October 10, 2010

Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. The Pepsi Max 400 is the 30th race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and the fourth race in the chase for the Sprint Cup. The race is at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA. This two mile track has lots of room for racing. And race they did. 1 Jamie McMurray starts from the pole with a speed of 185.285, the only driver to go 185 mph. 19 Elliott Sadler starts on the front row with Jamie. Only three “chasers” start in the top ten: 17 Matt Kenseth (3rd), 16 Greg Biffle (7th) and 48 Jimmie Johnson (8th). 11 Denny Hamlin changed the transmission and will have to start from the rear.

So, here we go! 1 chooses the outside and takes off. 17 gets by 19 for second. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya and 17 battle for second, but 17 keeps the spot. They race each other again and this time 42 gets by. 31 Jeff Burton goes under 18 Kyle Busch but 18 shuts the door on 31. 29 Kevin Harvick, 39 Ryan Newman and 13 Casey Mears race three wide. 13 gets by 29 and 39. 39 comes back and gets by 13 and 29. 29 pushes 13 past 39. 42 brushes the wall. 1 and 17 battle side by side for the lead. 17 Kenseth takes the lead.

48 has debris on his front grill, making him overheat. 56 Martin Truex, Jr. brushes the wall.  48 gets by 1 for second. 16 pushes 5 Mark Martin. 5 and 16 get by 9 Kasey Kahne. 00 David Reutimann, 20 Joey Logano and 12 Brad Keselowski race three wide with 00 pulling ahead. 29 gets by 14 Tony Stewart. 48 gets behind lapped car, 09 Bobby Labonte to dislodge the debris. 19 and 5 battle back and forth for fourth. Green Flag Pitting starts and 48 leads. 42 was too fast entering the pits. After it all, 17 is back in the lead. 31, 29 and 00 race three wide.

The first caution comes out when 16 blows the engine. He dropped a valve and there is much smoke. 38 David Gilliland gets the free pass back onto the lead lap. 17 is leading with 33 Clint Bowyer beside him. 24 Jeff Gordon takes the lead with help from 48 pushing him between 17 and 33. 48 then takes the lead. 18, 17 and 5 get by 24. 17 and 5 race side by side and 5 finally takes the spot. 12 gets into the wall after he gets out of shape. 18 can’t get by leader 48. 5 and 18 battle for second.

The second caution caution comes out when 47 Marcos Ambrose slides across the track and flattens his tires, creating much debris on the track. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya gets his lap back. In the pits 1 had a lug nut issue. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. stays out to lead. (Probably not a good idea.) At the restart, 48 takes the lead. The fourth caution is for 99 Carl Edwards stopped on the apron. The tow truck pushes him to the garage where they replace the fuel pump. He will return to the track, fourteen laps down. 37 Travis Kvapil gets the free pass.

48 is leading. 24 gets by 18 for second. 5 gets by 24 for second. 33 and 17 race each other back and forth for sixth. 5 Martin takes the lead. 33 goes low around 18. 17 drives under 18. 88 makes a pit stop. 17 gets by 14 for fifth. 39 gets by 18 for eighth. Green Flag Pitting starts again. 29 is too fast exiting. 38 David Gilliland leads, then pits. 24 gets around 48 for second. 00 and 17 battle back and forth for sixth.(Now that’s what I call racing. They race side by side, one of them gets by, the other dives down and they race side by side some more.)

The fourth caution is for debris. 24 and 33 battle for the lead. 33 Bowyer takes the lead. 5 gets by 24 for second. 11 goes to the bottom to get around 48. The fifth caution is again for sliding 47, almost in the same spot. 33 leads them to the pits. 24 has a short stop of 11.8 seconds! The sixth caution is for debris. 17 leads the rear down pit road. The leaders stay out. 14 Stewart takes the lead. 5 and 24 race side by side and 5 takes the spot. 9, 48 and 24 race three wide. 14, 33 and 39 race each other for the lead. 39 and 33 race side by side for second.

The seventh caution comes out for 18 up in smoke. He looses the engine and is out of the race with a DNF (Did Not Finish), finishing in 35th. 24 is too fast entering pit road. 20  and 56 Martin Truex, Jr.  get together on pit road. 37 Dave Blaney gets a lap back. 42 takes two tires for the lead. 14 takes the lead. 42, 33 and 39 race three wide for second. 48, 17 and 9 race three wide and 48 comes out ahead. 42 gets sideways. 29, 48 and 11 race three wide. 48 backs out of that situation. 33 takes the lead. 29 and 39 race each other for fifth with 9 right behind. (And they go to a commercial!)

The eighth caution comes out during the commercial for debris. 98 Paul Menard and 78 Regan Smith take two tires to lead. 14 pushes 98 to get by. 78 takes the lead. 78 and 14 battle for the lead and 14 takes the lead. 17 is smoking. 9 goes high to get around 78 and 48 for second. 48 gets by 9 for second.

The ninth caution comes out when 6 David Ragan comes up the track in front of 2 Kurt Busch who hits 6 in the left door and pushes him sideways down the track. At the restart, there is a “Talladega Pack”, that is, three wide, several cars deep. 48 nad 33 battle for second side by side right to the Finish Line. 33 finishes in second. And 14 Tony Stewart wins the Pepsi Max 400 at the Auto Club Speedway. This is his first win at this track. Tony has 39 career wins. This is his second win this year. There were twelve different leaders.

In my opinion, this race had some good side by side racing and even three wide racing. What I would call a great race. There was some good hard racing all around the track. Maybe because the race was shortened from 500 miles to 400 miles. I thought it was a good, exciting race. Except for the debris cautions. (I can’t figure out why there is so much trash at this track. Doesn’t the track have garbage cans? Or can’t the fans find those containers?) Auto Club Speedway will not have this date next year.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I love NASCAR.

NASCAR Racing: Dover

September 24, 2010

Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. For the second race in the chase for the Sprint Cup and the 28th race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, they go to Dover International Speedway in Dover, DE. I find this concrete “Monster Mile” produces some great racing. I go to the race in May, but not this one in September. Maybe because I am not thrilled with the hype of the chase.

As you know, the chase was set after the race at Richmond International Raceway. The top twelve in points make up the chase and no one will be allowed into the top ten any more.  The first race in the chase was at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Clint Bowyer won the race when Tony Stewart ran out of gas at the White Flag. Denny Hamlin was close behind Clint in second.

After the race, all cars passed the post race inspection. But Bowyer’s 33 car was taken to NASCAR R&D center and was found 1/16 inch out of whack. He was penalized 150 points.They will appeal. But this brings up something about the chase. Ryan Newman is no longer very far away in points from Clint. And with the chase, will not be able to catch Clint.

So, I must ask the question, why is the chase good for NASCAR? In years past, drivers could race their way into or out of the top ten in the last few races. Now the champion is based on the performance of twelve drivers in the last ten races of the season. Instead of the best driver through 36 races. I fail to understand why that might be exciting.

And according to television ratings, neither do most fans. The racing was great at NHMS, but ratings were way down. Some blame the coverage. And I have to agree, it leaves something to be desired. I watch because I love watching racing. But the casual fan might not be as forgiving. NASCAR gives great hype about the playoffs beginning in New Hampshire. And no one cared to watch. I say it is the chase itself that is chasing the fans away. NASCAR wanted to bring in the football fan and so started their version of a playoff. But I really don’t think football fans will be watching the “roundy-rounds” just because there is now a playoff system in place.

NASCAR might better go back and try to get the regular NASCAR fans back, instead of trying to get football fans to watch. Football fans will watch football. And with the chase in place, the NASCAR fans of 31 drivers may rather be doing something else. It may be a great story line for the media, but if they want the fans watching, the last ten races would be more exciting if all 43 drivers were doing more than just being on the track. Why racing should be more exciting because the Cup title is given to one of twelve drivers and the 12th place driver has an equal opportunity to win, is beyond me. They are still racing in 36 races and there are still 43 drivers out there at each track competing for the win. Only with the chase, only twelve matter. Who would care to watch that? According to the ratings and the number of fans who come to the last ten races, not many.

In my opinion, the chase is chasing away fans rather than bringing them in. Is it more exciting to crown the champion of ten races, than the champion of 36 races? I don’t think so. Racing is racing. Each race is different. Each race is exciting. racing is exciting. Trying to make it more exciting with a playoff system doesn’t make it more exciting. It just cuts off fans of 31 drivers. In my opinion.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. Thank you for listening. I love NASCAR.

The Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup: Excitement Or Hype?

July 6, 2010

Welcome NASCAR fans to my NASCAR blog. I love NASCAR! As my blog implies. I have loved NASCAR since the first time I saw a race in 1996. Racing for me is Exciting. I love watching them come up through the field, passing one another. I’m not too crazy about crashing, though. An exciting race for me is few cautions and lots of passing.

The point system has been the same since the Modern Era in the ’70’s until Nextel took over sponsorship from Winston. And it has worked just fine all those years. Dale Earnhardt collected seven Championships with that points system.

Then along came Nextel/Sprint and a new leader. Brian France decided the points system needed to be changed because Matt Kenseth, in 2003, only had one win and still won the championship. For some reason, the champion needed to have more wins than the rest of the drivers.

The solution should have been to give more points to win each race. Instead, the Chase was implemented. The media embraced this idea. I don’t know if it was so they only had to cover twelve to fifteen drivers instead of all 43, or what their reasoning was. For me, having a play-off with all 43 drivers racing, was a stupid idea.

NASCAR wanted to have football fans watching the races late in the season, instead of watching football. And since football has the Super Bowl, NASCAR felt that if they had a play-off, everyone would rather watch NASCAR.  I honestly don’t believe football fans watch football BECAUSE there will be a play-off. A play-off for stick and ball sports is necessary because there are different divisions and even different Leagues. And the play-offs decide who wins which League. The winners of each League play each other to decide who is the overall champion.

In NASCAR, there are now 36 races each season. And there are 43 drivers racing on each track for all the 36 races. Only now the season is 26 races to get into the chase and ten to decide who is the champion. However, there are still 43 drivers going for the win in all of the races.

Is it more exciting crowning the champion based on ten races? The media thinks so. Or is it just hype having the champion crowned based on their performance during the last ten races? I’m thinking hype.

Does anyone want to watch NASCAR during the first 26 races, when all the announcers talk about is the chase? That is talking about twenty drivers at most. NASCAR fans are the most loyal fans of all. And each of us wants the media to talk about our driver. Is 12 to 15 drivers exciting when there are 43 drivers out there? No way! The Chase is supposed to be exciting for the last ten races because it is a play-off of sorts. But if your particular favorite is not among the chosen 12, do these fans really want to watch those last ten races? I do because I love NASCAR. But do the football fans want to watch?

The Chase is supposed to bring in new fans because now that we have a play-off, NASCAR is now exciting. Exciting, in my opinion was in 2003 when Terry Labonte raced his way into the top ten in the last race. And Kurt Busch raced his way out of the top ten that last race. They can’t do that any more. The Chase is set after Richmond and no one in the chase can do any worse than twelfth. On the other hand, if your driver is in thirteenth after Richmond, the best he can do is thirteenth. That’s not very exciting for me.

Now NASCAR wants to tweak the chase. Maybe fifteen drivers instead of twelve. Maybe different tracks to race those last ten races on. But is that the best solution? Are they changing things for the fans or for the media? My solution? Instead of giving the winners ten points in the chase, why not give them those ten points or more for winning? Certainly the driver with the most wins, and therefore the most points, should win the Championship, no?

As a fan, I find the chase to be hype, and not excitement. I don’t like a champion crowned based on their performance during ten races. I liked it much better when they had to perform all year to be able to win the trophy. But what do I know? I’m just a NASCAR fan. But I do know that if I were a football fan who had a favorite driver that did not make it into the play-offs, I’d stick to football. In my opinion, the chase is chasing the long time fans away. And it isn’t bringing in any more fans. NASCAR is left with fans who like crashing. And that’s not racing.

Let’s get back to racing being exciting because it is racing and not merely entertaining, like WWE. Play-offs do not make a sport a sport. Do they watch football because it is entertaining? Or because there are some dang good plays on the field? And should we watch NASCAR because it is entertaining and has a play-off? Or because there is some dang good racing going on?

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I  love NASCAR