Thursday, November 16, 2006

The season's end would be a fine time for NASCAR to fix the 'Buschwhacker' problem

Some quick thoughts as Ford Championship Weekend in Miami comes up over the horizon.

  • Ford Championship Weekend is happening in Homestead. Miami is 30 miles north and still has the same roads torn up that have been torn up since the Cup series started coming here.
    Construction? How can be it “construction” unless something “constructive” is being done?
  • If hell has an airport, it’s a Delta Connection hub.
  • I keep waiting for NASCAR to figure out how to fix the “Buschwhacker” problem on its own, but I guess I am going to have to go ahead and give it to them.
    Nobody in the top 30 in this year’s final Nextel Cup Series driver standings gets any points, driver points or owner points for the car owner, in the first five Busch races next year. After those five races, no one in the current top 30 in the Cup series gets points for racing in Busch races.
    Cup drivers can still race all they want to in Busch races. But they’re racing for prize money in races only. They also have to qualify to make the race – no guaranteed spots in Busch fields with no points. Car owners and sponsors decide if they want to run for the Busch championship. If they do, they get a driver who’s on his way up the ladder or who’s decided Cup’s not for him. If they don’t, put anybody in the car you want to and go to town.
    Give that system two seasons and the Buschwhacker problem would fix itself.
  • People who work in NASCAR used to get excited about the end of the season. Those who travel every weekend saw the promise of a real life ahead of them and were gleeful.
    Now? Not so much. Here it is, in depressing reality for my friends and colleagues who do what I do. It’s Homestead, Thanksgiving, banquet week, Christmas shopping, New Year’s Day and then testing. Where’s the offseason in there?
  • When the 2006 season began, I kept asking people how the folks in Dodge’s racing program could let its teams get so far apart and working at such cross purposes that different teams were bringing different cars to the track. You didn’t have to be particularly smart to see that wasn’t going to work out particularly well for Dodge teams this year.
    Now, as the season ends, I am looking at what’s happened to Ford’s racing program with the same degree of confusion. How could Ford let Robert Yates get to a point where he’s even thinking about auctioning off the car owner points for the 88 and trying to field only one team next year?
    How could Ford not step in and make damn sure that there were Ford cars and trucks for Mark Martin to drive in any combination of races he wants to run next season?
    One year ago today, the two biggest stories in Nextel Cup were that Tony Stewart was in command of the Chase and that Roush had done something incredible by getting five cars into that Chase. Now, there’s a game of crew chief musical chairs going on over there and things appear to be in at least mild disarray.
    And people wonder why mechanics and other crewmen might want to look into working with Toyota teams?
  • Speaking of hell, there’s a corner of it saved for the man who invented the magnetic key card that’s used to open hotel room doors. In that corner is all the cold, refreshing water that man could want for eternity. But it’s locked behind a door and the guy’s key card won’t open it.
  • Make sure you check out thatsracin.com in the next day or so and look at where things would stand in the WARM system – the “Winning A Race Matters” points system I’ve proposed – going into this weekend.
    I told you it was good.

  • 21 comments:

    Vettedrmr said...

    David,

    You've nailed it again; that's what I've been proposing all year long. Drivers & owners can only accumulate points in one of NASCAR's divisions: Truck, Busch, or Cup. Come run if you want, but be ready to race your way in.

    Have a good one,
    Mike

    Anonymous said...

    David,
    Do you think the COT might help the buschwacker problem? In terms of not helping the CUP CCs and drivers with setups? Seems to me that many of the buschwackers use the Busch race as a 'learning tool' to help with Sunday's race. (at least thats what they say many times)

    KenP said...

    okla21fan took most of the words out of my mouth. But as a comment I don't see NCS drivers/owners needing to race a car that won't transfer to the Cup race. To add to David's rules, I would even like to see a limit of races a NCS driver could race during the year (maybe 10 - 15), that's good enough, let the new kids race and see what they've got!

    Mike said...

    A few caveats to David's great proposal for the Busch series: Maybe imposing a limit to the number of races (45-50) that any driver can run in the three National Nascar divisions. Allow rookie Cup drivers to drive the double, but only as a rookie.

    Also revamp the purse distribution. Unless you reward more money to the regular teams, they are still only fighting for 10th place money.

    I also agree with the disarray of Dodge and Ford. While the majority is striving for expansion, Penske and Yates are paring their stables down. This only eases Toyota's transition into the sport.

    Monkeesfan said...

    The solution to Buschwacking is preposterously simple - ban Winston Cup participation. If you're running in Winston Cup, your entry blank to BGN races is denied.

    okla21fan, the COT won't solve anything. Track time always helps with setups etc. because it's realtime track knowledge.

    Jeff said...

    I've always said the easiest way to handle the "bushwhacker" problem, is to allow any driver to only race in 1 NASCAR series per weekend. Take your pick, Busch, Trucks, or Cup - you can race in any one of them each weekend, but ONLY in one of them each weekend.

    Anonymous said...

    Four Cup Teams will be a must, Three Teams will let you run conpetive and you will need Two teams just to start a cup program. If you agree to the above, then you will agree that manufacturers will have to change the way of doing business.
    Ford- Rouch is ok because they have the four teams and Ford support, what the owner does with it all is his problem. Yates, Woods, R.Gordon need to form teams within a team, work togeather and get the maximum effort from Ford.

    Chevy- Hendrick, Gibbs, RCR, DEI are all ok and could expand to 4 teams unless sponsorship becomes a problem. All the other teams need to form alliances.

    Dodge- All teams are in need of help. Ray produces some engines but they are not up to par nor reliable. Four teams working against each other. I think Dodge will be the first teams out if they don't get more support.

    Toyota-Unknown but I will assume they will all get the help they need in the beginning.

    Bush- you will remember that cup drivers where invited to Bush to draw the fans. It was the only way they could draw enough fans for the track owners to make money. If you cut out the cup drivers altogeather, what will happen to the series? ""What if"" you only allowed cup drivers a limited number of races, four. Each cup team has four drivers x four races equals sixteen races per season. To qualify for the above they must also run a second car with a fulltime Bush driver ( can not drive in cup at all) NO restrictions on Bush teams with no cup drivers.

    Anonymous said...

    for any FT cup driver/owner/sponsor: no series points, no dollars= no point.

    come on. you dont see MLB players doubling up in the AAA, why- there is no more money.

    i like the limit of races across the series. that helps part time cup runners/ pre-rookies get time in other series and get $$$. part time teams could run both series (if they have cars for both) at one track and save travel $$$.

    if you dont let them develop in the lower series, its only going to cause issues in the big leagues.

    Anonymous said...

    Mr. Poole,

    Your proposal is a lame fix at best.

    How about truly fixing the problem?

    Any driver that has more than 3 starts in Nextel Cup competition, can no longer compete in the Busch series. These so called teams will have to choose....what series they want to run in fulltime, but still be able to race in only 3 Nextel cup races for the year to get their so called experience.....in the cup series. The next year they will be ineligible for any Busch competition.

    The Nextel cup drivers ruin Busch racing. Just another reason why, I quit buying tickets to any NASCAR event. I thought the Busch series was created to help younger, inexperienced drivers and teams work there way up to the Cup series??

    Monkeesfan said...

    anonymous, NACSAR needs to make these teams cut to three cars, not four. Four teams is only a "must" if the rules allow that number.

    With the exception of Dodge, the manufacturers have their star players where they want them, so why not spend the money to boost their smaller efforts back up? Why, for instance, doesn't Ford switch effort from Roush toward the Wood Brothers, Yates, and Robby Gordon so they can work together but also have a level of autonomy, namely by having their own engine and chassis shops?

    Dodge blew it when Lou Patane was cut out in 2001 and Stuttgart took over the program, running it like an F1 program of multiple little fiefdoms working against each other. There's a blogger, MD80891, who in his varied writings has shown how Ray Evernham has mismanaged the Dodge effort even though he's had the most success among the Dodges. Stuttgart needs to transfer the program back to someone like Lou Patane and make all the Dodge teams work together as One Team.

    What will happen to BGN if WC drivers are finally banned outright? NASCAR will finally be forced to spend the money needed to make BGN a viable series. They should have been doing this 30 years ago but they never looked beyond the quick easy fix of Buschwacking. And they've done the same thing with the Trucks - the Trucks, remember, was supposed to be a stand-alone series to be built up to where it could replace Winston Cup at some tracks and thus free up WC dates for those illusory big markets like New York City and LA.

    So what's happened? NASCAR stopped spending money to make the Trucks a stand-alone series and went for the quick fix of saddling them into Winston Cup weekends. Then it let Toyota in, aagin for the quick easy bucks, and it's failed - the Trucks are losing GM money, have all but lost Ford and Dodge, and when Toyota gets tired of being the monopoly manufacturer in the series they're going to leave.

    It is a complete lack of long-term thinking by NASCAR. It is the same pattern in the Chase format (a quick fix, not a well-conceived long-term solution), the COT, basically everything they've done this decade.

    The Wal-NutzManiac said...

    Mr. Poole,
    Have you not heard that Ford is in deep financial problems- - as in nearly "belly-up" ??? The least of their worries is whether or not Mr. Martin has a car or a truck to drive on the week-end. Besides, Mr. Martin needs to go home and spend some quality time with his son Matt !!!

    Anonymous said...

    I am opposed to any quick fixes in the Busch Series, lets see what unfolds next season. Already most of this year's 'whackers have announced they will not be participating nearly as much in '07! Vroom...

    Monkeesfan said...

    gvav1, what's going to unfold next season is the same as this season, last season, and so forth.

    clay Garrett said...

    The only problem with all these solutions is that those in charge dont want a change. The track owners love the Buschwackers, the netwoks lov'em, the "not so rich " fan loves going and seeing them on Saturday, when he can take his family for less than a house payment.

    clemenson1 said...

    David your right about the magnetic cards. How often have we went up to the 20 floor of a hotel only to have the darn thing not work and haul every thing down to the front desk to get a new one. The "buschwhacker problem" Well the easiest way to fix it with age requirement for young drivers and series startes for the others. Market both the Craftsman and Busch series to age groups. If you want to race Nascar you need to go thru the system. 18 -21 your in the Craftsman trucks. 22-25 your in the Busch cars. This will limit the Busch brothers effect. Teams will be force to use these years to develop drivers on the track so they don't go David Ragen or Steven Wallace on the rest of the racers. I think it will also open up a much larger marketing campain for sponsors to follow. Primary sponsor at a lower level will lead to assocate sponsors at higher level with the drivers. Now comes the problem with the top tier drivers wanting to come down. Drivers from the Cup series can only race 7 races per year in other series including IROC, Silver Crown, with an exception to Late model's (It important to keep grass root dirt racing in there blood). The same can said be about the other series you can only come up for 7 races or commit to the whole year. This should also stop the retirement class of racers from racing 20-25 races in one series and race 15 in another. If you race more than 7 races in one series that your choice. only 7 in total in the other series. Racers entering from other series (F1, IRL, WOO) also have to spend at least one year in a lower series to understand the tracks and set-ups more than the racing. Everybody says money is the problem and that sponsors want the premier drivers in the premier series that many be right so let's give 3 sponsor provision to qualify in a race if they fail to qualify then no harm to the 7 race resriction if they make it counts against them. Monkeesfan please weigh in on this. I don't think you can ban the Cup drivers because they help draw people to looking at the lower series and how the talent look in that series. Just look at Dirt tracks that Carl Edwards and Kenny Wallace show up at 3 or 4 thousand people will show up to watch them race at a track that only gets 500 on a regular night. If you guys are asking why the number 7. You can currently only race 7 races before you lose your rookie series status the next year. Another is this will keep power house teams like Hendrick and Roush from placing 4 different drivers in the same car to win tean owner points against full time owners like Fitz or Germain Bros. Mr. Poole this is an important subject please keep on it. This one can be fixed by the fans and Media!

    Jo said...

    David, Delta is part of the South's ongoing revenge for the War. Case in point: Delta at Atlanta Airport, where planes and your baggage will always arrive "directly"--which means somewhere between now and the next time Sherman drives down Peachtree Street (any of them).

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