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NASCAR presser reveals an organization out of tune with its patrons

By admin | January 26, 2011

By Richard Allen


As I watched NASCAR Chairman Brian France’s State of the Sport address on Wednesday evening I quickly decided that I would not write anything in that regard due to the fear it would become a too personal and mean spirited. After all, I had conducted two interviews earlier in the day with local dirt racers and figured that would be the thing I would work on in my late evening settling down time. However, as the night wore on I found it more and more necessary to speak my mind while the passion was still burning.

NASCAR is a sport I grew up on and have deep feelings for. Yet, the current leadership is seemingly doing everything in its power to drive me away.

As a child I watched my namesake, Richard Petty, battle with the likes of Pearson, Allison, Yarborough, Baker and Waltrip for wins. Those drivers either won or they lost. Seldom did any of them ever boast of a “good points day”. Each event was meaningful because it was known that each of those legends would give 100% to be the first to see that coveted checkered flag.

Fans were drawn to this sport for that very type of mentality.

Unfortunately, at least in my opinion, NASCAR has changed over the last decade. So much emphasis has been placed on winning the overall season championship that everyone has taken on a ‘big picture’ mentality that emphasizes the accumulation of points rather than trophies.

To prove that point I use the example of two drivers I overheard with my scanner while attending at race at Bristol a few years ago. With less than 30 laps remaining in that race a caution came out. I listened to one of the two drivers in question call to his spotter and tell him to get word to the driver behind him not to race him too hard because he was in a good position and didn’t want to loose those points. I quickly switched to the other driver’s channel to hear what I was sure would be a heated reply. Instead, the trailing driver asked his spotter to relay the message that he too was satisfied with his points position and was willing to ride. These two drivers were running 3rd and 4th at the time and it was the SPRING race.

I would have loved to have heard Cale Yarborough’s response had Bobby Allison sent word to him not to race too hard so they could each salvage points.

All throughout this past week there were rumors flying that Chairman France would announce in his Wednesday press conference that NASCAR was going to dump its old points system for something new. While speculation and leaks offered a glimpse of that new system it was still necessary to hear the news officially.

I hoped the new system would be one that would encourage more of a race to win mentality. I was sorely disappointed.

Now, the winner of each race will receive 43 points with a three point reward for winning and one point for leading. There will also be a one point bonus for whoever leads the most laps. Second place will receive 42 points with each descending position getting one point less until last place scores one point.

What this system offers is only a minimal reward for a driver to try and improve his position while it offers a heavy penalty for finishing deep in the field. Will drivers run the risk of advancing one spot when a mistake could cost them severely?

Fans have clamored for more incentive to win. They got a “simpler system” that essentially has been enacted to ensure a close championship battle during the Chase for the Championship.

NASCAR has determined that it is a close championship battle that will draw more fans to the grandstands and television screens. What apparently no one in Daytona Beach has considered is that a close points race only boosts one or two races at the end of the season. In other words, 34 races have been sacrificed to make the final two exciting.

It seemed all too obvious to me as I watched that NASCAR and its leadership don’t get it. They are completely out of tune with what is driving fans away(if they are even aware that fans are leaving) and they are less aware of what it is that will bring fans back.

Dirt late model legend Scott Bloomquist once said to me that he couldn’t wait for the day when, “Those NASCAR boys have to come race against us to make a living”. After listening to Wednesday’s press conference I’m not so sure that day isn’t far away.

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13 Responses to “NASCAR presser reveals an organization out of tune with its patrons”

  1. The Mad Man Says:
    January 27th, 2011 at 7:56 am

    Once again, Brian France has missed the mark. He has not listened to the fans, as usual, and as a result will be paying a price for it with lower TV ratings and even emptier grandstands. Fans want the play-off system gone, it’s still here. Fans want drivers to get more points for winning (25-100 pts), they get 3. Fans want cars that resemble what’s on the streets, we’ve still got generic looking cars. Fans want current technology to be used with the engines, we’re still stuck with obsolete technology. Fan want the emphasis to be on winning, it’s still on consistency.

    To top it off, last year, Robin Pemberton said that they’d be using fuel injection by the middle of this season which would make the manufacturers happy. Well, in Daytona he stated that they wouldn’t be using fuel injection in any points events which you know isn’t going to set well with the car manufacturers. And what about giving the manufacturers the bodylines back on the cars so that they actually resemble what’s on the street? Nope, not even close. Supposedly the next big change is coming in 2013. I don’t expect the manufacturers to be around then because of Brian France and NASCAR’s lack of “movement”.

    Brian and his friends can keep their heads in the sands while the fan base continues to disappear and can keep denying that it’s happening. After 2012, NASCAR will no longer be the top dog of American racing. IndyCar will. So keep going the way you are down there in Daytona and ignoring what the fans have been saying. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

  2. Charles Says:
    January 27th, 2011 at 8:04 am

    I watched Brian France try to explain the new ’simplier” point system and had to chuckle a bit, I thought Mel Tillis was doing the talking!

    Seems the way he was explaining it, was to complicated for him to tell us! I mean he was all over the place, seemed very unsure of himself, ill prepared etc!

    This opened the door to more questions than answers! Here they said we need a simplier points title, then if you go and make a big issue to make qualifing more complicated by using practice times! Nothing is more simplier than the qualifing concept they have now!!

    Mabe I missed this, what happens if some of these back marker team wreck and cannot qualify, and dont have a backup car, does the field go to 42, instead of 43 points?
    I mean they say we have 43 teams!

    I have read blogs know a bunch of old and new fans, not once have I heard one suggest that making a ’simplier points fomat”was needed!!!

    Using a polical comment it, but still relevant “its about the racing stupid”

  3. mrclause Says:
    January 27th, 2011 at 8:58 am

    I uh, duh, think, uh, uh, that uh, this uh will uh, duh, give the uh, fans uh, just what duh, they want.

    This is the man that makes the decisions! If he can’t answer questions better and more easily than he did last night then take the mic away from him and that big office too. It was like he didn’t know the answers. If the top two officers of the sport can’t present themselves and the sport better than that miserable showing then we are in trouble. Maybe that’s why he is so quick to fine drivers for speaking out. They can actually speak on a topic. Uh, duh, maybe uh, Brians uh, uh, drink wasn’t uh strong enough uh to duh, uh, give him some uh focus.

  4. Glen H. Says:
    January 27th, 2011 at 9:00 am

    I’m in total agreement Rich. The should have given more points to the winner.

    What I would have liked to see was a 20 point bonus for winning, 10 points for leading the most laps and 5 points for anyone leading more that 10 laps. So the maximum points for winning would be 78.

    That would put a lot more emphsis on running up front and winning since second, assuming no bonus points, would be 42; a 36 point spread. The max for second would be 57, a 6 point spread from winning if the winner didn’t lead the most laps and at least 10 laps.

    Glen H.

  5. Bill B Says:
    January 27th, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Very true Rich. Well said.
    I agree, the importance that NASCAR places on the championship has gotten out of control. And the importance of “making the chase” has also created a more points conscious field.
    It’s not that guys wouldn’t like to be able to go for the win, it’s that the penalty for a DNF hurts more than the reward for a win. Before the chase, by the 10th race of the season there would be so many guys hundreds of points behind that they could toss points out the window. The only way they would catch the leaders was to win, win, win. Now, if you are in the top 20, your way to the championship for the first 26 races is to accumulate points and make that 12 (or 10 starting in 2011) team cutoff.

  6. phillip Says:
    January 27th, 2011 at 10:58 am

    mrclause Says:
    January 27th, 2011 at 8:58 am
    I uh, duh, think, uh, uh, that uh, this uh will uh, duh, give the uh, fans uh, just what duh, they want.

    This is the man that makes the decisions! If he can’t answer questions better and more easily than he did last night then take the mic away from him and that big office too. It was like he didn’t know the answers. If the top two officers of the sport can’t present themselves and the sport better than that miserable showing then we are in trouble. Maybe that’s why he is so quick to fine drivers for speaking out. They can actually speak on a topic. Uh, duh, maybe uh, Brians uh, uh, drink wasn’t uh strong enough uh to duh, uh, give him some uh focus

  7. Jayson Says:
    January 27th, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Here is a twitter quote from @RacingWithRich last night on B France’s speaking ability:

    “Brian France says the old points system was even hard for him to describe. Hell, the way he speaks a ham sandwich is hard to describe”

  8. Ms. G Says:
    January 27th, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    NASCAR is undergoing “points change” chemotherapy.
    Its prognosis is not good………

  9. rick Says:
    January 27th, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    I am an old codger who has been following Nascar almost since its inception. In the past the championship wasn’t the big deal it is now.The media has hyped it particularly the tv media in order to create fan interest for the long races and longer season.
    Drivers in earlier years raced hard as hell for wins because that is where the money was. Most of them had their own dollars invested in their equipment and winning meant their familes could eat for another month.Today’s drivers get fat salaries whether they win or not and they don’t need to win to keep their jobs they just have to finish races. That said many of the drivers today are as skilled and would race just as hard for wins as those in the past if they were getting paid for results and not just for showing up

  10. Kevin Says:
    January 27th, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Cheers Rich, I believe this comment from Clint Bowyer will answer your question in regards to drivers racing hard to gain positions:

    “A bad day is going to hurt a hell of a lot more than it used to… …So I don’t know what that’s going to do as far as the racing and things like that. You’re out there giving it 100 percent, you’re out there to win the race each and every week anyway, but you’re not going to step underneath somebody if you’re loose and you know they’re going to make you even looser. You’re not going to try to make that pass for a fifth place and take a chance of finishing 35th.”

    Welcome to the new consistency emphasized NASCAR.

  11. ginav24 Says:
    January 27th, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    I was so underwhelmed by the state of nascar address, I cannot even begin to describe it — at least not in words I use in public.

    Brainless must have been standing in front of a mirror with a glass of his favorite beverage asking himself how he could “improve” the sport. He liked the answer he got back from his reflection because it sure didn’t take into account anything the fans were talking about. At the tracks and online, changing the points system wasn’t even on anyone’s list. Making the chase drop into the deep end of the ocean, that was on a lot of fans minds, but since it was BZF’s idea, obviously it can’t be wrong.

    So tired of the chase taking away from the races. I’ll still be following NASCAR this season, but it will be more with the internet and a quarter of the attention I once gave it.

    I’m not a big fan of Jenna Fryer’s but that rude and obnoxious answer to what was a very good question was out of line for someone who’s supposed to be a good businessman. And he expects the press to write “positive” things about NASCAR.

  12. Mr. Tony Geinzer Says:
    January 27th, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    Rich, I will keep lighting my candle faster than Lil Wayne’s Albums to tell Big Brian that I want to expect expectation in my Sport, namely in your beautiful Kentucky-Tennessee Region and I hate to keep playing to win instead of whine as DJ Khaled and Denny Hamlin are a million years from cracking the 48 Code as the Real 48 was not Jimmie, but James Hylton.

    January 27th, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    THANK YOU Rich for saying the truth. AMEN.

    I have been watching that supposed to be leader that we got for nascrap for years now, come talk to us with his stupid changes for each year. A ten year old kid could run nascrap better than he does…..At least he wasn’t throwing his shoulders back, pulling down his shirt cuffs, fiddling with the mike, proably had one or two before he spoke, like last years joke…I mean speech that he gave. Yes he was a duh when it came to answers to the press..the same ten year old kid could of done better than he did.

    I don’t really think that he really cares about racing. It’s all what he can gain from it. Money…more money..more more money.If Jimmy gets his 6th this year we will be seeing empty race tracks in the near and dear future.

    One thing I would like to see the idiot do before he totally ruins nascrap…is let Jeremy Mayfield free from the fake drug charges that he imposed on him. Brainless has gotten enough out of it , why the 2 other so called druggies are back racing and probably mechanicing again, and Jeremy has to suffer for something that he didn’t do.The so called drug program is well on it’s way, so Jeremy can be let go. Why continue the farce?

    Everywhere you read there is always somebody saying about the leader, and lately it is more and more not so good.

    I miss the NASCAR that I once knew.