By admin | August 5, 2010
By Richard Allen
Over the last few days there have been words like ‘Schedule Shuffling’ and ‘Chase Tweaking’ coming from the powers that be in the world of NASCAR. Considering the string of changes having been made over the past decade or so I have to wonder what sort of thoughts are being conjured up inside the offices of the sport’s major decision makers.
Now bear in mind, there are a number of changes I have advocated for a while now. If getting rid of the Chase can be considered a tweak then that would be one. Moving Darlington to a night race on Labor Day weekend would be another. Taking one of California’s dates and the homestead date would be others. However, my guess is that at best one of those things might happen. My fear is, the changes that are going to come about will be the exact opposite of what many ‘old fans’ would like to see take place.
The same people who will deciding the new direction for NASCAR are the same people who have devised such ideas as the Chase for the Championship, the Car of Tomorrow, two dates for California Speedway, a date for Homestead and leaving the sport’s Southern roots. And that is not to mention ’Lucky Dogs’, the wave around, etc… So yes, there is reason to be concerned for the future of this sport when the idea of change is brought up.
In my mind, I can envision something like a Chase tweak in which a driver is kicked off during each week of the final ten races, unless the fans vote to allow that driver to stay. Or, I can envision that after a few Chase races the leading non-Chase driver standing on the front stretch of some track being asked to spin a wheel and if the wheel lands on a certain space he will be allowed into the Chase at that point.
Hopefully those visions are only the product of an always suspicious mind and far from actual reality.
The schedule shuffling is just as worrisome as the Chase tweaking. This is an organization that gave two dates to the track in Fontana which seemingly does not get enough people at both its races to equal one full house under the guise of opening a previously untapped market.
It is a poorly kept secret that Kansas is going to pick up a second date. If that comes at the expense of California then it will probably be a good move on NASCAR’s part. If it comes at the expense of Martinsville then many of the remaining ‘old fans’ may very well throw in the towel.
Atlanta, one of the sport’s traditional venues, has already lost one of its races when Speedway Motorsports, Inc. decided to shift one of their given dates to their track in Kentucky which did not previously have a place on the Sprint Cup schedule. In fairness, Atlanta often had scores of empty seats while Kentucky appears to be very excited over the prospect of hosting NASCAR’s top division.
Still, I am waiting to see the finished product of the ‘Schedule Scuffling’ and ‘Chase Tweaking’. Until then my mind is cooking a number of possible scenarios, most of which are quite scary.
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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
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