Sunday, November 02, 2008

Shorter fields would short some teams

FORT WORTH, Texas - Can I ask something? Because I am confused.

What good would it do for NASCAR to officially shorten its fields for Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series? Why does that make any sense, even if the economy completely tanks?

There was a report a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR was thinking about making 36 races the number in a full field for Cup races, instead of 43. NASCAR has denied it, but that hasn't kept people from still writing and talking about the idea.

The only problem with that is that it doesn't make the slighest bit of sense.

Let's suppose things get as bad as they possibly could and three for four races into the 2009 season only 34 or 35 cars show up for a Cup race.

Would that be the end of the world? It would absolutely be treated as such, of course, but the truth is there would still be the same number of cars capable of winning the race - 15 or so - in a 34-car field as there are in a 43-car field.

Chances are also good that if you had 34 full-time teams show up, there would be five or six one-and-off teams show up, too. Call them "start and parks" if you want to, but someone running five or six races as a start-and-park team might figure out that they could make a go of this and one day in the future there would be a new team formed out of that.

But let's say the sport goes eight or 10 weeks with fewer than 43 cars showing up and NASCAR reacts. It cuts the 43-car fields to 36 and cuts the qualifying-exempt number from 35 to 30.

So right off the top, you've taken something away from five race teams they've done nothing to deserve losing.

Anyway, you've decided that 36 is the maximum. So what if 39 teams show up? You're telling me it's a good idea to send three of them home because you've decided that it looks better for you to say your maximum is 36 and not 43?

Of course it isn't. If you can run 43 cars, and you have been for years, you've got no business lowering that maximum if it means you're going to be sending teams who're trying to hang on for dear life home for no good reason.

It just doesn't make any sense. At least not to me.


Monkeesfan said...

I think it's something the Media has thrown out there. The idea of shorter fields has literally nothing going for it.

Anonymous said...

Nascar tried shorter fields at the short tracks in years past. Did'nt it use to be only 36 at Bristol and Martinsville, David?
I don't think that worked real well.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps they would do it to reduce overhead.- inspectors, etc.

Monkeesfan said...

Anonymous #3 - they can reduce overhead without shortchanging the teams and the competitive integrity of the sport. There is nothing NASCAR can gain from shorter fields.

Anonymous said...

If fans stop buying tickets and races continue to have more and more empty seats in grandstands, shorter fields will be the least of NASCAR'S worries.

Doesn't anyone fully understand the ramifications of the world wide downwardly spiraling economy?

The 2009 race season may be in serious trouble, in more ways than one.

It is difficult to think optimistically......

Monkeesfan said...

The market works, Anonymous #5, so the economy will rebound. The real problem is the sport's rising costs and NASCAR's refusal to attack them.

Gary said...

The cars need to be more stock, to get prices down. The power train looks like something stuck in the early 70s. Let's try fuel injection, for starters.

Monkeesfan said...

No, Gary. Fuel injectors are more expensive than carbs. The cars don't need to be more stock because there's no such thing as "more stock." There needs to be a hard spending cap on raceteams.

Gary said...

The cars still look old-fashioned to those not familar with the sport, based on what they tell me.

Have you bought a 4-barrel carb recently? Please list source and price.

I used to go to drag races in the 60s and watch the Shelby Cobra owners go from parking lot to track, with just a tire change on the rear. Dittos for the 426 Hemi guys and the 396 chevy guys.

Anonymous said...

DAVID- The problem obviously comes from your fellow writers, not readers. I suggest you print out several copies of your post and pass them out in the media room.

Monkeesfan said...

Gary, stop it - that I haven't bought a 4-barrel carb recently isn't relevent to anything.

"The cars still look old-fashioned to those not familiar with the sport." Huh?

Monkeesfan said...

One other thing Gary - when you mention seeing drag races decades ago where Shelby Cobra and other owners went from the parking lot to the track, your premise is clearly that it's time for NASCAR to revert to that same dichotomy today. Problem is it doesn't work - the cars are too brittle and it ignores why they evolved away from that "stock" approach - it couldn't be sustained.

We need to stop pining for "stock" cars and accept that the cars are racecars and should stay that way.