By admin | June 12, 2011
By Richard Allen
In a recent column I suggested that NASCAR ought to consider reducing the length of many of its 500 mile/lap races and instituting a heat race type format to detemine starting positions. To many that may have seemed like a very radical suggestion. However, I am not willing to say NASCAR should ever go as far as the IndyCar series did this past weekend in Texas.
The IndyCar race was billed as twin 275 kilometer events that were supposed to be two completely separate events. In reality, that was not the case because if it were there would have been full points awarded for each race and teams would have had the option of using a totally new car for the second race whether they had crashed in the first or not. Neither of those things was the case.
Instead, half the usual number of points were awarded for each segment and teams who had not crashed had to stick with the same car they started the night with. There was, however, a victory lane celebration after each segment.
The most objectionable part of the whole thing was the between race activities. After the first victory lane celebration(for segment 1 winner Dario Franchitti) ended, the drivers were brought to the front stretch for an agonizingly long ceremony in which each driver participated in a blind draw to determine his/her starting position for the second stanza.
While the blind draw format offers the opportunity for fans to see some of the better cars put in the rear of the field and thus have to work their way to the front, it is irresponsible to run a race in which championship points are awarded in the end but have starting positions determined in what amounts to a luck based lottery.
In this particular case, one championship contender, Franchitti, drew a starting spot well back in the pack while another contender, Will Power, drew a starting spot near the front. In such short races as these there was hardly enough opportunity for those at the rear to catch up with those who started at the front, especially considering that the second race ultimately ran caution free. Power won segment 2 while Franchitti was only able to get up to 7th place.
NASCAR should never consider â€˜mixing it upâ€™ in quite so radical a fashion as this for any points paying race. The problem in the second race was that all-important starting spots were not earned, they were given. Even when qualifying is rained out in NASCAR there is some degree of earning involved in that the field is set by points earned throughout the season(or the previous season if the rainout occurs in the early season).
Using this type of format for an all star race of some sort is fine, but certainly not for any race that will play a part in deciding a championship.
Most Sprint Cup races should be shortened http://racingwithrich.com/?p=1449
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