NASCAR Cup Series
Five throwback ideas NASCAR should consider reviving
NASCAR Cup Series

Five throwback ideas NASCAR should consider reviving

Published May. 11, 2023 10:03 a.m. ET

It's "throwback" race weekend at Darlington Raceway, when teams come up with paint schemes to remind fans of some glory days.

That will be followed by NASCAR's "Field of Dreams" weekend at North Wilkesboro Speedway for the All-Star Race.

Both races will bring back lots of memories. Mostly good ones.

With that as a theme, is there anything from the days of yesteryear that reasonably could return in the 2020s? Is there anything that drivers who are veterans now wish they still did that they were doing when they entered the sport?


[RELATED: NASCAR Cup Series throwback paint schemes for Darlington]

Here are four things some drivers mentioned that NASCAR should consider bringing back plus one wish that I have: 

Bonus Program

NASCAR had a $1 million bonus program that encompassed a handful of races. It went by a variety of names, such as the Winston Million or the No Bull 5. The program ended in 2004 after tobacco sponsorships were no longer permissible.

"The No Bull Million had the money truck with the money flying out of the back," Joey Logano said. "That was pretty cool. That was really neat. I'm voting for that — bring the money truck back."

While NASCAR eliminated this bonus structure in Cup, it has incorporated the concept (but not for $1 million) in its development series with the Xfinity Dash 4 Cash program and the Triple Truck Challenge.

"Bring the money truck back"

Joey Logano says he wouldn’t mind seeing the money truck from the Winston Million promotions return to the track.

"That was a lot of fun and brought some attention to the sport, having the orange numbers and the orange spoilers on the cars and guys going out there and racing for an extra million dollars," Kyle Busch said.

"That was fun. ... I'd love to see something like that return for the Cup Series." 


NASCAR banned testing at Cup tracks in 2009 and all testing starting in 2015 except for NASCAR-specific tests.

Kevin Harvick remembers all the track time he got several days a week when he was elevated to the Cup Series in 2001.

"You just kept going to the racetrack, and a lot of it was trial and error," Harvick said. "I really enjoyed that because just the interaction with the team and the things that you did and travel, going to racetracks that weren't on the circuit.

"It was just different. ... All the development work, I miss those days. It was a lot of work. I didn't care at that time."

"I miss those days"

Kevin Harvick talks about his early years in the Cup Series, when he spent several days a week testing at tracks.

Harvick is retiring after this season, so the idea of testing might sound better to him considering he wouldn't be the one having to put in the time to travel and test.

"I wish there was more data and more tools in the car during the race and more practice for the younger guys to learn because you are so limited," Harvick said.

"It's a difficult world to learn in. But then again, you stick the kids in the simulator — and we had a couple of them last week at Dover that had never made a lap [before racing] and it was like, ‘Eh, whatever.' The stuff that would terrify me to go out and do, they just look at it as, ‘That's just what I'm going to do.'"

More Practice

Teams had at least 100 minutes of practice most weekends up until the past four years. NASCAR was on pace to reduce practice time and then after COVID-19 hit, and NASCAR conducted races with no practice nor qualifying, it opted to limit practice to 20 minutes following the pandemic.

Drivers are split on how they feel about it. They love to race. There is not a consensus, though, on whether more practice would allow struggling teams to get better or just widen the playing field.

Put driver and RFK Racing co-owner Brad Keselowski among those who want more practice.

Keselowski's one wish

Brad Keselowski would like more practice time, something teams used to have before the pandemic.

"I probably have a few controversial opinions that I'm not going to dive into the deep end," Keselowski said. "Having practice back is probably my loudest drum that I've been beating lately, and I feel like that's important to the fans and important to the overall field for our race weekend.

"I'm holding out hope that that will change one day. But maybe that's foolish. I would certainly like to see that come back."

Brickyard 400

NASCAR started in 2021 racing on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course instead of racing on the oval. Racing on the road course, which includes part of the oval, is still Indianapolis. Kind of.

The prestige is in the oval. And with the Next Gen car, the racing potentially could be better as well.

IMS officials have indicated a willingness to potentially return to the oval at least for next year, which would be the 30th anniversary of the inaugural Brickyard 400.

"Brickyard 400," Busch said. "I miss that."

Return of the Brickyard 400?

Kyle Busch would like to see the return of the Brickyard 400 (which he might just get next year).

One Sponsor Per Car

OK, this one isn't going to happen. But it's one that I would love to see.

Having one sponsor per car obviously was easier for teams to manage because they could focus on serving that sponsor's needs. Now they are negotiating with several companies and seemingly on a never-ending search for funding. The main benefit is if a sponsor opts not to return, it isn't as devastating since that one sponsor isn't funding an entire year.

But there were plenty of benefits when teams could land one sponsor for the entire season that went beyond the obvious for a team in not having to service multiple accounts. Having the same paint scheme every race allowed the casual fan to know who was in the car. Drivers were synonymous with their sponsors and those colors. There was little confusion.

Beyond that, a sponsor that funded a car for a full season was more inclined to promote that driver in advertising and promotional campaigns. That allowed the drivers to become more well-known and organically grow their fan bases. 

What To Watch For

When it comes to the Darlington race on Sunday (3 p.m. ET on FS1), the first thought is: Will drivers have enough sets of tires?

Teams will get 11 sets for the race — 10 sets of stickers plus one set of scuffs from qualifying. At 293 laps, that's a set every 26-27 laps if needed.

That sounds like plenty but with drivers on edge with the Next Gen car, there certainly could be more than 10 cautions. And drivers will want tires at every caution as the surface causes nearly instant tire wear.

As far as who will have speed, look for the same drivers to have it this year as last year. And that's primarily the two teams — Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick — that have had some of the fastest cars all year.

Yes, Joey Logano (Penske) and Erik Jones (Legacy) won these two races last year. But Logano has been far from matching what he did last season and Jones has struggled. Also, in the race Jones won, some of the fastest JGR/Hendrick cars had issues.

Thinking Out Loud

NASCAR did the right thing in not penalizing Ross Chastain and Noah Gragson for their skirmish on pit road after the Kansas race.

But this might be a time when the "probation" term could be used or put into effect.

Who was at fault?

The NASCAR Race Hub crew reacts to the big fight on pit road between Ross Chastain and Noah Gragson at Kansas Speedway.

NASCAR can't have drivers getting into fights every week, as it would be a sign of drivers being out of control and potentially could lead to drivers getting hurt.

A driver getting angry once and throwing a haymaker? OK. But if the same driver gets involved in another fight during a season, a fine would be an appropriate statement. It certainly would be a judgment call as a driver who already was in a fight shouldn't be baited into another fight to get fined or suspended.

But NASCAR does need to have a way to keep control of drivers. If drivers show a pattern of being unable to handle their emotions, it would be appropriate for NASCAR to act. 

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They Said It

"He told him to stop." —Kansas winner Denny Hamlin after watching the video of Ross Chastain punching Noah Gragson

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.

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