When will NASCAR get away from setting the lineup based on points if practice is completed? Why not use those times? — Clay
Great question, Clay. NASCAR used to set the field by practice speeds if qualifying got rained out. But here’s the problem: Teams are smart. They know when rain is coming. So what was happening is that when teams expected qualifying to be rained out, they’d turn practice into an unofficial qualifying session, knowing that’s how the field would be set.
But NASCAR wanted practice to be, you know, practice, so they changed the rule this year. Obviously, it rewards the drivers higher up in points and hurts the ones further down.
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I am officially a big fan of stage racing. Do you think that we will see more of what we seen between Kyle Busch and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at Martinsville on Sunday? The last car on the lead lap racing the leader hard to stay on the lead lap at the end of a segment? — Ken
That’s easy. Yes, we’re going to see a lot more drivers push hard at the end of stages, especially at short tracks.
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Does the series sponsor have any input in changes made to NASCAR? The long breaks between stages seems perfect for marketing your product to a large captive audience. — Jerry
In recent years, NASCAR has done a much better job of involving its stakeholders —including sponsors — in decisions about the sport’s direction. Those stakeholders also include drivers, owners, track operators, television and radio broadcast partners, automakers and others. The final decisions are up to NASCAR, of course, but they get a lot of input.
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Tom, the technology is available...why not put cameras around the car and a screen inside? Drivers can't turn their head anyway, eliminate side mirrors. — Ray
I don’t see that happening, and I’ll give you a couple of reasons why. For one thing, it would be expensive and complicated to do. For another, the cockpit of a NASCAR car is like a furnace. Temperatures can run upwards of 150 degrees, which would put a tremendous strain on the equipment. And if the cameras went out a car, a driver would essentially be driving blind. Last but not least, I can’t see any way the drivers would be in favor of this. Not going to happen.
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Can NASCAR speed up the between-stage caution periods? — Scott
There’s pros and cons to speeding up those cautions. The longer the caution, the more commercials can be squeezed in, which means they don’t have to have as many commercials during green-flag racing. On the flip side, the long delays can break up the momentum of the race.
As we know, NASCAR loves to tweak how they do things and I imagine they’re already getting input from stakeholders about how stage racing can be improved.
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What's your opinion of stage races? I reserved judgment, but I'm liking it so far. — Gary
On balance, I like stage racing a lot. I think it’s added some needed drama to the least exciting portions of the race without changing the overall product too much. Think of racing like eating at a nice restaurant: The race is the steak and the reason you go there. The stages are like a really good steak sauce that adds a little extra flavor. But it’s still all about the steak.
Why the road course at Charlotte? There are MUCH nicer tracks in this country. It’s too small and boring. — Brian
First off, Brian, as far as I know there are no official plans to race on the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course. And for what it’s worth, I agree that it’s way too tight to have good side-by-side racing. But CMS is one of seven tracks owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc. — the others being Atlanta, Bristol, Kentucky, Las Vegas, New Hampshire and Sonoma. It is highly unlikely that NASCAR would pull a race from Charlotte without giving SMI an additional race at one of its other tracks.
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What’s the biggest takeaway so far this season that’s for the better and what needs changing? — Shane
As I noted above, I think the stage racing has made the first half of races a good bit more interesting. Now, drivers have legitimate reasons to push and push hard instead of just logging laps.
And this is just my personal opinion, but I think the racing would be better with cars that were a good bit slower — 20-30 mph at some tracks — at the faster places. We’ve seen corner entry speeds this year as high as 213 mph. I just don’t think that makes for great racing, especially since the lead car has a huge advantage aerodynamically.
Why is the No. 41 driven by Kurt Busch carrying the Monster Energy logo when Monster Energy also sponsors the car? Would this not be considered a conflict of interest since Monster Energy is the Cup Series main sponsor? — Nancy
Monster Energy decided it wanted to keep sponsoring Busch, who has been a Monster Energy athlete for a number of years, even though it’s now the series sponsor as well. This is not anything new. Years ago, R.J. Reynolds used its Winston and Camel brands to sponsor race cars in what was then known as the Winston Cup Series. If you’re the title sponsor and paying tens of millions of dollars a year for that recognition, you want all the bang for the buck you can get.