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« Predictions for NASCAR 2012: A Busch brothers episode is bound to happen | Main | Johnson/Knaus rule infraction and big crash make for interesting first day in Daytona »

Bayne faces possibility of missing Daytona 500 while Danica is guaranteed a spot

By admin | February 16, 2012

By Richard Allen

One of the most frequently asked questions people who do not follow NASCAR regularly have about the sport regards how some drivers can be guaranteed into races while others are not, especially when those guaranteed into the races have few if any qualifications to earn such an allowance. At the same time, one of the most frequent criticisms people who follow NASCAR closely have about the sport regards how drivers can be guaranteed into races without having actually done anything to earn such an allowance.

A quick glance at the list of drivers guaranteed into the 2012 Daytona 500 will do little to dismiss those questions and criticisms.

Perhaps the best ‘feel good’ story of the 2011 NASCAR season came when young Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500 driving for the legendary Wood Brothers Racing team. However, there is at least the possiblity that the Knoxville, Tennessee native might not even get to start this year’s ‘Great American Race’ on the high banked 2.5 mile speedway.

Since Bayne’s team did not run a full schedule in the Sprint Cup Series in 2011, he chose to compete for the Nationwide Series title instead. Thus, the car #21 did not finish inside the top-35 of the overall standings. Such a ranking from the previous season guarantees a team entry into the first five events of the next season, including the highly prized Daytona 500.

During a Daytona Media Day appearance on Thursday, Bayne stated that it was OK with him that he is not locked into the race and that he is pretending in his own mind that there is a defending champion’s provisional as a way of removing some of the pressure. He also said that he has faith in his car and his team to make the race.

But just after Bayne’s appearance on Media Day came the much heralded Danica Patrick for her turn behind the microphones. Despite having not even started one Sprint Cup race last season and having run only a limited number of Nationwide events, she is locked into the season opener.

As the result of a somewhat complicated points/ownership deal between Stewart-Haas Racing and Tommy Baldwin Racing, she will be allowed to use the points earned in 2011 by Dave Blaney. Since Blaney and his TBR team finished in the top-35 of the standings, Danica is guaranteed to start the Daytona 500 on February 26th.

Nothing illegal or unheard of took place in the SHR/TBR arrangement. Similar deals have taken place in the past. And, Bayne’s team had the opportunity, albeit not the funds, to work out such an arrangement. However, something has to be wrong with a system that allows for such circumstances to take place.

And no NASCAR, the answer is not to create more provisional spots such as past winner’s ‘wildcard’.

The top-35 rule and all the wrangling that is allowed to go on within it has taken virtually all the drama out of what used to be one of the most dramatic days in racing. The Thursday Daytona Duels used to actually decide who would make the biggest race on the NASCAR schedule. But now, with 35 cars guaranteed in as well as any past champion not already locked in and the fastest qualifiers being given a spot, there are really only four positions available on that day. And while that will create anxiety for Bayne and other drivers, it’s not the same tension filled day it used to be.

There’s nothing wrong with locking some drivers and cars into races with points. However, thirty-five is too many. And more, no driver or team who did not even compete in the series the previous year should be locked into the field before qualifying even takes place.

This piece was not written to solely pick on Danica Patrick but rather to point out the flaws in the current system. However, when you are the person receiving the brightest amount of the spotlight’s glare, you serve as the target representing others.

Trevor Bayne should not be guaranteed into the 2012 Daytona 500, but neither should many of the other drivers who are.

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13 Responses to “Bayne faces possibility of missing Daytona 500 while Danica is guaranteed a spot”

  1. Tony Geinzer Says:
    February 16th, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    I find this is a farce and believe me, I am not in a mood to explain Simpsonianisms on the blog as Bayne could be at home and loses his car and Danica loses her car right away.

  2. Offkilter Says:
    February 16th, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    I’m indifferent to the top 35 in points or teams changing ownership on paper, but i think the past champion provisional should be limited to a championship won within the past 10 years.

  3. Russ Says:
    February 16th, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    While I dont wish the Wood Brothers any bad luck, it would be interesting to see how Nascar managed to find a way to get them into the field.

  4. Chris Fiegler Says:
    February 16th, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    I Still do not Understand how did Danica Patrick got in the Daytona 500 on Points? I Personally think that NASCAR Should eliminate the top 35 in Points Have Everybody Has to Quailfy on Speed or Time if they are way too slow even if you are the Defending Champion then they Go Home.

  5. fuzzy Says:
    February 17th, 2012 at 7:09 am

    Top 35 rule stinks,loose that rule nascrap!!

  6. Eric Says:
    February 17th, 2012 at 8:57 am

    I say let them race their way in…All of them…No top 35 and no start and park….You eant to race in the 500….Be a top 43 car and you will, it’s that easy !!!

  7. JC Says:
    February 17th, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Rich, you are the only reporter/blogger with the nuts so far to point out this travesty. It is hard to believe that Nascar has a system that allows such a thing. I had many people who know nothing about Nascar asking about Trevor Bayne and can he do it again. Nobody is asking about Danica!

  8. Glen H. Says:
    February 17th, 2012 at 10:05 am

    If NASCAR was smart - yeah I know NASCAR and smart is often an oxymoron - they would adopt a “go fast or go home” format for qualifying.

    They could make some money on qualifiy day if it really meant something.

    Just think of the excitment, drama, tension if someone like Dale Jr. was on the bubble for making the race. Good ratings and maybe some more butts in the seats on qualifiying day.

  9. Mike Southern Says:
    February 17th, 2012 at 11:10 am

    It’s the world according to Briar. The well funded teams can buy happiness. NASCAR continues to manipulate the field WWE style. It is what it is.

    I’d like to see them line up and the top 43 get in period. No provisionals for over the hill champions cashing in on yesterday. Does anyone really wonder how Bill Elliot got the Wal Mart gig? No top points teams who weren’t fast enough. Just go fast get in. Go slow go home.

  10. Bob Says:
    February 17th, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Top 35 in Points, is the difference between a Sport and a Show….

  11. Bob Says:
    February 17th, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    The Top 35 in Points is the reason NASCAR is a show and not a Sport… can you imagine an 0 - 14 Patriots football team next year going to the play off because they won the championship this year…

  12. oldirtracker Says:
    February 17th, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    I was listening to XM sirus radio and almost threw up listening to one of my favorite people (Chocolate Myers) defending points selling. Why not give jr. a little bigger restrictor plate so he can win the 500. How big would that be for nascar. I raced short tracks as a young man and you went to the track , earned your way in the race or you went home. that simple.The show is about the fans, not sponsors, drivers, owners etc. Anything else is manipulating the outcome and its WRONG. Might as well be wrestling . For the record I also Do not believe active drivers or car owners should be part of the race media. specifically Michael (im not biased ) Waltrip or the (king of start and Park) Phil Parsons.

  13. Jeff Says:
    February 18th, 2012 at 12:04 am

    The current top 35 rule started in 2005 and these pts. swaps started in earnest in 2008 and continue today. Trevor Bayne had 1 career Cup start and the Wood Brothers bought one of the closed up Richard Petty’s cars pts. from 2010 and Bayne was guaranteed in the race and he won. It was a cool and popular win.

    I, for one, don’t care for the top 35 rule, but I don’t make the rules that NASCAR plays by. Last week though, a pretty important NASCAR PR person(name escapes me) did admit that this rule seems to be pretty unpopular with fans and perhaps something will be done regarding this matter come the 2013 season. We will see if that’s the case as the season progresses. Either way……..I am ready for some racing!!!!! I am ready for the Budweiser Shootout tomorrow night and then 500 quals on Sunday.

    As a final note, my heart goes out to the family of Chris Myers and the loss of their 19 yr old son, who was killed in a car wreck today here in SoCal. My wish is for comfort of some kind for their entire family in their time of tragedy. Jeff