I always have and hopefully always will be a big believer in constructive criticism. I’ve always said if you just complain to be complaining, and then you are a whiner. I always prided myself that if there was a rule or a decision that NASCAR made that I didn’t agree with that I voiced my concern but at the same time gave an example of a possible alternative solution. I just don’t believe you can simply complain without offering up a viable solution.
I know there has been a lot of talk by most everyone about what should be done to our racing schedule and what probably will happen. Granted, I will bet you the 2015 schedule is almost already in stone and rumor has it there aren’t any great surprises.
Some of my ideas I am going to give you are going to seem pretty radical. You know what, though? I think our sport is at that crossroad I was telling you about last week and maybe a radical approach is needed in some areas. A lot of these ideas aren’t that new, actually. They’ve been knocked around in the past, but I still think some of them are viable and NASCAR should give them serious consideration.
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The 800-pound gorilla in professional American sports is the National Football League. Here’s the most radical thing you are going to read today. I say quit running from it but coat-tail off of it. I say let’s run the Daytona 500 on the same day as the Super Bowl. I mean heck, everyone already calls the Daytona 500 our version of the "Super Bowl" so why not have them the same day?
Think about Memorial Day Weekend. They run the F1 race in Monaco in the morning, the Indianapolis 500 at lunchtime and then we run the Coca Cola 600 that evening. It is a motorsport fan’s ultimate trifecta. So why couldn’t we use the same model with the Daytona 500?
The Super Bowl isn’t played until the evening anyway so why not literally make it a "Super Sunday?" We could start the Daytona 500 at noon or 1 p.m. and that would lead into the NFL Super Bowl. I know, you are probably sitting there saying, "That isn’t going to work. No one is going to ever do that." My response to that is, "How do you know unless you try it?"
The other thing I would like NASCAR to consider is possibly starting our season earlier and ending it earlier. As it stands now, we spend January testing at various tracks, including Daytona and then wait until the Super Bowl is over before our season starts. So there are a lot of weekends in there where I think if we started the season earlier, then we could end the season earlier.
I know the first thing I would do was like I mentioned last week and that’s have a string of races out west â the western swing if you will. I’d run the Daytona 500 on Super Bowl Sunday and then I would load everything up and head west for a while. Why not hit Phoenix, Fontana, Las Vegas and Sonoma in all one swing?
Now sure, some of your equipment will have to go back and forth, but not everything. Remember me telling you last week how we currently go by Texas Motor Speedway something like five times plus have to come back across the country twice to go to Bristol and Martinsville? This plan would eliminate all that time, money and effort.
I’m a big believer in synergy. I think you can capitalize on being in an area for a longer period of time than simply this hit-or-miss shotgun kind of effect. Let’s tighten things up and capitalize on all the assets of being in an area for a while. The fans will know we are there. They media can build stories around us for however long we are in that area. There’s just so much that can be built on.
The other thing I would do is put the short track races together. Let’s do Martinsville, Bristol and Richmond one after the other after the other. We always talk about the excitement of the short tracks because of the flared tempers and possible retribution from one driver to another. Well running all three short tracks together would let all those storylines build and play out.
Things right now are too separated. We go out west and come back across the country to Martinsville. Then we go back out west and come once again back across country to go to Bristol. It just doesn’t fly in my book. It’s back to that common sense I was talking about last week.
If we had a western swing, well then we could have a northern tour. That would naturally include our friends at Pocono, Dover, Watkins Glen and New Hampshire Motor Speedway. We could own that region and the majority of the media coverage in that region while we are there.
Why not create our version of the Midwest Madness? You have Texas, Indianapolis, Kansas, Chicago and Kentucky Speedway. For a period of time our sport would own the coverage in the midwest. I just like the concept of grouping things up and playing off one things that happen from one week to the next in the same region.
So those are just some of my suggestions of how we could fix the schedule. Like I said last week, to me our NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule should be priority No. 1 in being fixed. We don’t need to change the car, the motor or whatever. Those are great but the schedule isn’t.
Why can’t the schedule be more efficient both in time and money? See that’s what a lot of this all about. It’s about all the money it’s taking to crisscross the country to run these races. I suggested, as did others, years ago to Bill France Jr. that why didn’t NASCAR simply open the track we are going to race at that weekend one day earlier.
It wouldn’t be mandatory for you as a team to be there, but for those that wanted to come they could bring all their testing telemetry and spend the day testing at the track they are going to run at Sunday. Again, it sure seems like common sense to me than forcing these teams to run all over the country testing tracks that are "somewhat" like the track you will race at. Let them show up a day early and actually test the track they are racing on. Again, common sense would tell you that it will make your race on Saturday night or Sunday afternoon better. It sure would save these teams a bunch of money.
Why don’t we also limit the number of tires a NASCAR Sprint Cup team has to use on any given weekend? They do it in the Camping World and Nationwide series to keep costs down. So if it works there, why couldn’t it work in the Cup series? Limit the number of tires if you want to save money. If you don’t believe me, go ask one of these car owners about their weekly tire bill expense and prepare to be stunned with the cost number they give you.
Why not evaluate the schedule and see if there aren’t some venues where we could have a one-day show? You roll in. You practice, qualify and then run the race later in the day or that night. I’m just saying there are things that could be done that might seem radical on the surface but make a ton of common sense when applied.
Again, for the benefit and future of our sport I think it’s high time we look at some radical changes to shake things up. Collectively we have got to figure out something to get the folks back in the grandstands and back watching at home. We are putting an unbelievable product out there on the race track. That’s not the issue.
The real issue is everything else supporting it doesn’t seem to be working towards maximum potential. I’m sick to death of hearing "this is good for the sport and this is a great idea." I say prove it. Show me the proof where it’s helping bring fans back to the grandstands or to their couches to watch the races.
Anyway, those are just some of my ideas all be it some of them are radical. I love this week has finally arrived. We’re getting ready to head to Indy for the Brickyard 400. As a kid I loved going there and dreamed of one day racing there. How special it was to me personally to be on the outside pole for my last race at the Brickyard in 2000. The history, mystic and aura of that place are so thick you feel it when you pull in the infield and Stevie and I can’t wait to get there.