Sunday, March 15, 2009

NASCAR’s top 5 biggest issues in 2009

Welcome back ladies and gentlemen, as this topsy-turvy 2009 NASCAR season continues on next week at Bristol Motor Speedway, there is currently a lot of decisions among the drivers, teams, owners, sponsors, fans and especially in the media about NASCAR’s future and what impact the shaky economy right now will have on the sport, so here is my top 5 issues in NASCAR that should to be address going forward and even though I don’t see NASCAR making wholesale changes in the future, it is a new era, new economy right now in the world and with everyone coming down to reality, it’s time for some change, step by step.

1. The shaky economy is one of the biggest topics right now in NASCAR, on one hand in the Cup series, some teams are seeing new sponsors come in, but on the other hand, while the Cup Series has seen growth, the Nationwide Series and the Truck Series haven’t and has forced some teams to close down due to lack of sponsors, so in light of this, what can NASCAR do with the Nationwide Series and the Truck Series?

First, here in 2009, identity for any series is key, so What should the identity of NASCAR’s Nationwide (formally Busch) Series be? The Nationwide Series needs to have its own identity, NASCAR has the Truck Series, the Cup Series and what? One suggestion is Nationwide Sportsmen Series.

Second, thinking more long term, in this article called “What would you do with the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Truck Series?”, I talk about merging the two series into one using the Truck Series rules for good racing and originally thought that using the Nationwide COT would be a good idea, however for cost-saving, NASCAR should use the Race Trucks, they are already built with several hanging around, a safe race truck and even without manufacturers support, would still work great. Two series in NASCAR would be better than three series in these tough times.

2. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Schedule, the Nationwide Series and the Camping World Truck Series schedules all are in need of reorganization in the future, well, welcome to the future ladies and gentlemen, first, what about Should NASCAR consider one Cup date per track for the future NASCAR Cup Series Schedule?

Or a more direct route using the current Cup Series schedule, first, what about two cup races at (starting in the northeast and heading south, then out west) New Hampshire, Dover, Richmond, Charlotte, Bristol, Michigan (tossup for either one or two, it is near Detroit), Phoenix, Daytona, Talladega.

While one Cup date at Montreal, Watkins Glen, Pocono, Martinsville, Darlington, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Chicago, Iowa, Kansas, Homestead (I don’t know about the finale being here, but its NASCAR choice and it has good racing), Texas, Las Vegas (Not sure if adding two dates is good here, second would be perfect for preseason race in January), California, Sonoma, Portland or upper northwest.

Total races on the Cup Schedule: 33 races (includes Iowa, Montreal and a future Portland or upper Northwest area cup date), then you have a preseason race “What should NASCAR do before The Daytona 500? Shootout at Daytona or a preseason race.” Where I think a preseason January race should be held at Las Vegas and the All-star race in Charlotte. as for the Nationwide and Truck doubleheader weekends: Nashville, Memphis, Kentucky, Gateway.

3. Very simply, NASCAR needs to set a consistent start time for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, not TV special time. First, starting the Daytona 500 at 3:20PM is ridiculous, what happened to 1:30pm? Just give us a normal start time for all day races and all night races and both Bristol and Charlotte races should be night races.

4. The owner’s points is getting out of hand, I understand why NASCAR has the top 35 rule, but one, swapping points outside of a team is terrible, if one team that has four cars going into the offseason with three in owner’s points, they have three in owner’s points the next season, not four, check out this article “NASCAR and Penske miss use championship provisional and owner points.”, that was just the beginning.

5. Finally and the biggest when it come to survival of this sport considering sponsors are needed to go racing, The exclusive part of being the title sponsorship of one NASCAR’s national series. This is a huge issue in NASCAR and has been for years now, I know that this clause has been in NASCAR since Winston came in to NASCAR, but its 2009 already, time for change. When Winston was the title sponsor, this issue didn’t really come up, however once Nextel, now Sprint entered the picture as the new title sponsor of the Cup Series back in 2004, clause really started to be noticed, first it was Verizon Wireless and Motorola trying to sponsor Robby Gordon’s car back on March 20, 2007 at Atlanta, on the Friday before the race, NASCAR told Gordon to remove the decals because it had to do with Verizon Wireless, then NASCAR on Sunday then told Gordon he could have the Motorola back only as its Digital Audio Player (Read more here…), but the biggest debate which lead to be a court fight between Cingular, the new AT&T vs. Sprint and NASCAR.

I still don’t understand this one, I can't even imagine when Cingular signed a sponsorship deal with RCR and NASCAR back in 2003, that they would be fighting for their identity a couple years later back in 2007 just to put there AT&T sponsorship (AT&T purchased Cingular and the rights to the sponsorship) on the #31 RCR Chevrolet, this was wrong.

Ironically enough, this same thing could have happened with Verizon Wireless (meaning the court battle) after Verizon bought/merged/acquired Alltel Wireless, however I have to believe that after watching the AT&T battle, Verizon thought the better of it and this story here has drown huge attention from several sites online about Verizon Wireless and Penske racing’s brilliant marketing, all three of these articles illustrate working the rules that really should be in the first place from Verizon and Penske have worked around the sponsor ban, Workin' Within The Rules to Penske, Verizon succeed with new business model

The first photo is Justin Allgaier #12 Verizon Wireless Dodge in the Nationwide Series and the second is David Stremme #12 Penske Racing (a.k.a Verizon Wireless Dodge) in the Cup Series, because of the title sponsorship with Sprint in the Cup Series, VZW can't be on the Cup Series car, but it sure does look like it. Photo(s) Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR via NASCAR PR.

Of course, don’t forget about Nationwide vs. GEICO that made little headlines.

As far as the chase format goes, 10 races works right now, NASCAR has 26-races for the regular season, then the top 12 drivers and teams transfer to the 10-race chase for the Sprint Cup, I’ve adjusted to it and after a couple of years, there is really no issues with it.

One last article for everyone to read, I wrote this article last year “High gas prices vs. this race fan going to watch NASCAR at New Hampshire Motor Speedway once or twice a year.”, and it still holds true more than ever today.