Brad Keselowski offers up ‘dream schedule’ for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Former Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski has taken on a new role in 2014, that of an Internet blogger.
Using his personal website as a platform to express his opinions, he shared a personal story of loss and victory, then explained what it means to be involved in an on-track rivalry following a run-in with Kurt Busch at Martinsville Speedway.
Earlier this week, the Team Penske driver tackled one of the ‘third rail’ subjects of the sport, and offered his "dream schedule" for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
The often outspoken driver pointed out that while much has changed over the past decade in NASCAR, the schedule has largely remained the same.
"Why is the schedule so sacred?" he wrote in the blog. "Everything else has been cut, changed, chopped, and rebuilt. Why not that?"
Taking the Easter break to mull over the topic, Keselowski offered up his suggested changes, some of them very radical.
Keselowski’s schedule is 38 races and the All-Star Race, but his season would end with the Awards Ceremony in mid-October. Keselowski adds Iowa Speedway and Road Atlanta to the schedule, shuffles around the current schedule to group tracks in the same area together, and much more.
To start, Keselowski is a fan of kicking off the season with the Daytona 500 two weeks after the NFL Super Bowl. However, once the haulers roll out of Daytona Beach, Fla., he suggests the series hit tracks located near one another, starting with the West Coast.
Following Daytona, Keselowski suggests heading to Fontana, Phoenix and Sonoma before making the trip back to the East Coast. Keselowski believes this would allow drivers to hit more media outlets, teams could keep the majority of their equipment out there, and fans could travel along.
"It would also be good for the people that travel the NASCAR circuit," he wrote. "They could come along with us for the West Coast tour. We’d be like Grateful Dead, with people following us everywhere we went."
From Sonoma, Keselowski suggests the series heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway, traditionally the final race of the year. This would kick off a Southern stretch of races including Darlington, Martinsville, Bristol and Texas leading into the Easter break.
Coming off the first break, things remain fairly consistent with the schedule hitting Talladega, Richmond and Charlotte for the annual 600-miler. However, instead of the All-Star Race, he calls for another off week.
This is where things start to get radical.
For what he calls the "Summer Stretch" of the season, Keselowski suggests NASCAR race twice a week.
"We’re just starting the first week of June when we get to this point," he wrote. "Kids are starting to get out of school. Summer is really starting to hit. Basketball and hockey are wrapping up. And we really have no competition at that point in time.
"To capitalize on that, we introduce the NASCAR Cup Series double header," he continued. "Wednesday nights, we race in prime time. Sundays, we race the same way we always do."
While the suggestion is a radical one, the former champ believes mid-week races would bring much more attention to the sport.
In the middle of the double headers, Keselowski would give the "marquee races" at Daytona and Indianapolis their own race weeks. Then it’s back to two races a week until the Chase begins. During this stretch of double headers, Keselowski also suggests giving Iowa and Road Atlanta Sprint Cup Series dates.
Another change to the schedule would be moving the second Talladega race and making it the final race before the Chase.
"Right now, Talladega’s in the Chase, but it isn’t the greatest fit because it’s more of a wild-card race," he wrote. "The style of racing is really different and unique there. Making Talladega the last race of the regular season would take what makes the track special, and give it real meaning in the season. It would be an incredible opportunity for a daredevil driver and team combination to make one last-ditch effort to make the Chase."
Once the Chase starts, Keselowski suggests alternating doubleheaders and standalone races. Out of the Chase are Homestead and Talladega; in are Watkins Glen and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Yet after the first nine races — which would take only six weeks — Keselowski would have the series run the All-Star Race before deciding the champion in Las Vegas.
"The All-Star Race, in my schedule comes at the end of the season, two weeks before the last and championship race," he wrote. "It changes venues every year, giving different parts of the country a chance to be the focal point of NASCAR for a week. If you’re a championship team and you want to take off, you don’t have to compete."
To keep the title contenders involved, Keselowski suggests the team that wins the All-Star Race would automatically earn the pole for the final championship race.
In concluding his blog, Keselowski reminded readers this schedule was nothing more than something from his "dream world," but encouraged fans to continue the discussion for the future of the sport.
"Again, putting the schedule together in reality is a lot harder than brainstorming it on your own, and a lot of outside factors come into play. But that is the fun of having your own blog, right?" he said. "I’d love to hear what you think of this. What do you think of some of these changes? And if you could put together your own ideal schedule, what would it look like? … Let’s get the discussion going. It’s the sport we love, and to me, it’s always good to try and think of ways to make it better."
So, what do you say fans? Do you like Keselowski’s suggestions? What changes would you make? While NASCAR is ultimately the deciding factor, the former champion has yet again stirred the base and brought some fresh thinking to the sport.