Friday, January 16, 2009

NASCAR changes Shootout again, suffers more foot wounds

Bless NASCAR's heart, it's trying to fix something that is broken beyond repair and it just keeps digging the hole a little deeper.

The new format it came up with for the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona was never the best idea NASCAR's ever had. It had to come up with something since the old way of qualifying for the event - winning a pole for a Cup race - is now part of a sponsorship deal for a beer company (Coors) that's a direct competitor for Budweiser.

You're not going to have a Budweiser-sponsored event featuring Coors Light Pole Award winners. It's just not going to happen.

So NASCAR decided to let the Shootout "emphasize" the manufacturers by making the top-six Fords, Chevrolets, Dodges and Toyotas in each year's owner points make the field for the next year's Shootout.

The timing of that, of course, turned out awful since manufacturers' involvement in the sport is not actually something some of them want to call attention to right now, but NASCAR wasn't in position to know that last summer when the change was made.

It's sort of a flawed concept anyway, though. Martin Truex Jr.'s team finished 16th in points last season and he's not in the Shootout. But the No. 10 car that finished 37th last year and isn't planning to run a full schedule in 2009 is. Justifying that is a stretch.

Then came Friday's addition of "wild card" teams for each manufacturer, expanding the Shootout field from 24 to 28. NASCAR added stipulations that got Tony Stewart, who drove last year in a Toyota but will start '09 in a Chevrolet for a team he's never turned a lap for, into the Shootout.

You can argue that Stewart's inclusion is sort of righting a wrong, since he's a former winner of the event and under the old format that would have had him qualified.

But what Robby Gordon is going to be allowed to do makes no sense. Gordon would have been in the sixth car eligible among Dodge teams. But he's not driving a Dodge any more. He's switching to Toyotas. Only, he's still got a Dodge left that he's going to drive in the Shootout. And NASCAR is OK with that.

Now Juan Pablo Montoya finished nine spots ahead of Gordon in the 2008 owner points and would have been eligible in the No. 42 Dodge. But Montoya is switching to Chevrolets and his team apparently doesn't want to run a Dodge one more time. I guess you could argue that it's the driver's and team's call, but it's still a mess.

NASCAR keeps talking about how much it loves the fans. If you can't come up with something better for the Shootout format, why not just let the fans vote on who should race in the Shootout? Give the fans 10 picks, by vote. Fill 10 more spots with the drivers highest in the previous year's standings who aren't voted in and run the race.

That's not the best idea in the world, but given the mess NASCAR has on its hands now it clearly isn't the worst.

Worth noting - The USAR Pro Cup Series, which lost Hooters as its title sponsor after last season, has been sold to a group "representing interests closely associated with the Series as well as established organizations within the motorsports marketing community." The series is still looking for a title sponsor, but plans are for the series to be back on the track in 2009. ... Anybody who has bought a ticket to May’s Coca-Cola 600 or who comes to the track and buys one on Wednesday can get a voucher for a ride-along in a Jeff Gordon Racing School car that day from 4 to 8 p.m., while supplies last. The offer is valid for only one ride per ticket account. ...Mike Ashley Racing bought the Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster team from 3B Racing. Antron Brown will remain as the driver of that National Hot Rod Association team's car.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of jack asses. The race was never that great anyhow but at least it stood for something. Now it means absolutely nothing. At least Nascar got Stewart in the race (not a fan) because he appears to be their boy. After all they did let him win Talladega when he obviously didn't.

Richard in N.C. said...

Complain, complain, complain. It really is amazing that NASCAR has been able to survive and prosper since all the giant brains are in the media.

Anonymous said...

Talladega was pretty obvious to me too, Anon #1....Smith was obviously below the yellow line and was obviously penalized appropriately and obviously didn't get the win. All is right with the world.

Anonymous said...

I too am surprised that NASCAR is as profitable as it is with all the bashers here and in TDP. The funny part is that the bashers usually call themselves NASCAR fans.

I'd hate to see what they'd say if they hated NASCAR.

Anonymous said...

I felt that Smith was forced below the yellow and therefore should not have been penalized.

nh_nascarfan said...

The Budweiser shootout is and always has been a waste. Its nothing more than the equivalent of a pre-season NFL game.

Its only purpose is to give race fans something to watch after a long, cold winter with no racing....

And without any football as a diversion, I will sit there and watch just like everyone else will!

Anonymous said...

More proof that NASCAR ALMIGHTY can make the rules, change the rules and forget the rules whenever it chooses.

So what else is new?

Anonymous said...

So what part of Stewart forcing Smith below the yellow line did you miss? Seriously dude, if you missed that then you didn't watch the race. Smith was easily beside him and Stewart forced him below the line. The majority of the drivers interviewed afterwards didn't agree with the ruling. Clearly you are a fan of Stewart to the point where you can see no wrong doings on his part. You probably thought Stewart dumping Kenseth at Daytona at 200mph in front of a pack of cars was alright too.

Anonymous said...

It's being called the Stewart rule on Sirrus, just ask David Poole. :)

Monkeesfan said...

It shows that NASCAR in the Brian France Era simply has no idea what it is doing and lacks the ability to figure out how to do things right. If the Shootout is a ferociously competitive race then they'll have gotten something worthwhile out of it, but overall it and the All-Star Race simply can't be justified anymore.

Anonymous said...

I agree David, I can see NASCAR eventually letting "Smoke" have a back up car to keep him in some races this year. How can they do that? If you are a former champion that switched manufacturers and you were the most recent champion to drive for Gibbs you qualify for a backup car to be used at anytime! why not... they gonna do what they want anyway!

Anonymous said...

I think they should throw a red flag in case Tony's car isn't handling very good so he can switch to a back up car without going down a lap.

SallyB said...

Putting cars in the field according to 'manufacturers' is a joke anyway, since all the cars are basically the same except for the decals. Having the fans vote on starters makes more sense than this mess.

Anonymous said...

Another biased opinion by the all great nascar guru David Poole.Poole is mad because he didn't get to tell nascar how many cars to let in the shootout,and he's calling it the Tony Stewart rule because he hopes one of the announcers will say it on TV,and then he can say it's was his idea to call it that.I just wish he would stop using the term WILD CARD.This is a term that is used in professional sports such as the MLB and NFL.In no way should it be used in nascar.nascar is a over rated wanna be sport with over weight wanna be sports writers.Poole a little advice.Don't say WILD CARD.Just say the rules were manipulated to suit nascar.Oh!I forgot,if you write that you might make Brian France mad,and not get invited to the big buffet at the speedway club.Get a real job or atleast write about something thats real.

Richard in N.C. said...

Yes, the whole Sootout deal is sloppy and not well thought out, but part of the blame is Budweiser's. NASCAR should have made the Pole award and Shootout a package and not let Bud stay involved unless it would continue with the Pole award.

At the same time, how is what is being done now different from a golf tournament's sponsor exemptions?

Anonymous said...

whole thing is a joke. there wont be any fans there anyways.

racinreb said...

as for the race, they should go with the top 35 in points from last year............as for the argument about the the stupid yellow line rule, both Stewart and Smith should've been penilized, Stewart for forcing Smith down there and Smith for advancing his position once being forced down.....IMO, they should do away with the yellow line and let the boys race!!!!!!

SK said...

I agree with Richard from NC. The Pole sponsorship and the Shootout sponsorship should have been a package deal.

Granted, the Shootout is the equivalent of a pre-season game as there are no points awarded. But same thing for the Winston/Sprint Open in June. It's a non-points race and thus, by definition, a waste.

I always looked forward to the Bud Shootout because it was a warm-up race before the Gatorade Duels after a long cold winter. Sure, it was invented in 1979 a practice for CBS before the first live broadcast of the Daytona 500. But it meant something -- the Pole winners and previous Shootout winners from previous years. Now, it's meaningless. The top six or seven of each make no matter where they placed in points or qualifying, assuming they haven't changed makes/owners/drivers? Bah!

I'll still watch it, but under protest.

Carolyn said...

I think if everyone would re-read what David said you would understand that Nascar did not think out the whole format thing before changing it to a manufacturer's duel. Number 1, with all the chevrolets, a handful of Toyotas, Fords and Dodges - how would it be fair to start with. I agree that the shoot out should have stayed the way it was and either Coors or Bud should have stepped up to the plate and did the whole sponsorship deal and you would not have had this problem. Nascar did not think this through at all. If you think nascar is doing this just to favor Stewart - you are not living in the real world - he has never been a pet of nascar - never. On the other hand, he deserves to be in it for no other reason he is a 2x champ and a 3 time winner of the shoot out and deserves to be in it!

Anonymous said...

Once again, NASCAR is perfecting its ability to look like the laughing "stock" of professional sports.

It has gotten past ridiculous now. Ah, to harken back to the glory days before $$ corrupted it so badly.

Monkeesfan said...

It wasn't money per se that corrupted the sport, it was lack of a solid business plan and a refusal to understand what racing is and what it isn't.

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