Monday, February 02, 2009

Points gymnastics will make you flip out

I’ve been a supporter of NASCAR’s top 35 rule since its inception. I think it’s a fair way to make it more likely the teams that commit to running a full schedule are protected from missing races because of the vagaries of qualifying.
That’s not a very popular position among some fans, who’re under the incorrect impression that putting only the fastest 43 cars each week is the best way to run the NASCAR railroad. It has never been done that way in this sport, not for any significant period of time, and it never should be in my mind.
Btu the top-35 rule is hard to defend when NASCAR allows the kind of gymnastics that seems to be going on with owner points this offseason.
It’s reasonable for there to be an orderly way for teams to transfer points when it changes drivers. It’s fine with me if Yates Racing wants to take the points earned by David Gilliland and Travis Kvapil last year and give them to Bobby Labonte and Paul Menard – as long as Yates Racing has the same number of top 35 spots for this year as it earned last year.
If Richard Childress Racing wants to start a fourth team, that’s fine. But RCR had three teams in the top 35 last year and that’s how many should start this year in it. If Childress wants to put Casey Mears with the No. 07 team and have Clint Bowyer go to the new team, that’s fine. But Bowyer needs to go hard in the first five races to get into this year’s top 35 and not get an exemption through some kind of elaborate deal.
It doesn’t look as if we’re going to have a Daytona 500 entry list until Friday, and according to Bob Pockrass of a lot of stuff will be going on up until the last minute. Nobody knows more about this points tomfoolery than Pockrass.
Pockrass says that somehow Phoenix Racing has secured a top-35 spot for Brad Keselowski in the No. 09 Chevrolet. Apparently that’s comes from one of the total of six slots that Dale Earnhardt Inc. (four) and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (two) had at the end of last year and now control as the merged Earnhardt-Ganassi team.
Teams aren’t supposed to be allowed to have a financial interest in more than four teams. You can field a fifth car for someone who plans to run as a rookie the following year, but the plan supposedly was for Keselowski to run seven races – the maximum allowed for such a prospect – in a fifth Hendrick Motorsports car. Then came word Keselowski was going to run 10 more for Phoenix. So he’s a rookie in training for two teams? And he’s going to run Daytona with an “affiliation” with Earnhardt-Ganassi, supposedly, even though we all know he’s in the Hendrick pipeline?
Pockrass also says that teams are sniffing around trying to “buy” the points earned by the now-defunct No. 22 team at Bill Davis Racing. The assets of that team were bought by people who’re keeping the engine-building part of the company going, but they’re not racing the 22. That should be that. If points aren’t for sale, then don’t let them be sold.
If Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing wants to run John Andretti in a fourth car with the points from the 15 car last year, that’s OK. Earnhardt-Ganassi should have four spots because they had six and four is the maximum for one team.
That means the points from the 22, the 01 and 41 from last year should be out of the picture, period. That would put Marcos Ambrose in the 47 (with Michael McDowell’s points), AJ Allmendinger in the No. 44 (with the No. 10’s points) and Sam Hornish Jr. in the No. 77 in the top 35 to start the season. And that should absolutely be that.
* * *
Briefly: Rockingham Speedway has added another event to its schedule, the Cherry Bomb 200 on July 4. The doubleheader will have the Frank Kimmel Street Stock cars, which raced in the Polar Bear 150 on Jan. 1, running 100 laps beginning at 10 a.m. That will be followed by 100 laps for the American Speed Association’s late model series. …Sports Business Journal reports that Fox Sports’ projections for NASCAR advertising sales are about 25 percent off of last year’s pace. Three of the top five advertisers on NASCAR telecasts last year were Ford, Toyota and General Motors at a total of about $44 million. All expect to spend less this year. …Robert Auton, the father of Truck Series director Wayne Auton and Sprint Cup official Buster Auton, died Sunday at age 75. Known as “Hoot” by most in the NASCAR community, the elder Auton was a long-time NASCAR official himself. The funeral will be held on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. at Springs Road Baptist Church in Hickory.


Anonymous said...

The same article in the Sport's Business Journal stated that Sear, UPI and Sprint expect to spend more on NASCAR this year than last. We also have new sponsors. On Nacsar Now, Mike Helton stated that NASCAR still has more Fortune 500 partners than any other sport.

Everyone needs to tighten their expenses. I think NASCAR will be okay, thanks to a great tv contract that runs thru 2014.

Anonymous said...

The season is going to be ruled by The "elete" teams any way. Money still rules. What bugs me is unproven drivers, crew etc getting spots on these teams. Shouldnt they have to work their way up in lesser teams?

Anonymous said...

what i find interesting is that the top 35, among other things, was supposed to give an owner something of value if there run as an owner ended. all they own is those points. that is all most of them have to 'sell' that is worth any value.

as long as it was mikey waltrip buying points left and right, it was ok. once mikey finally got into the 35 by the skin of his teeth, NO MORE POINT SELLING.

with the alledged 'in-house partnerships' being allowed by yates/hall of fame and jtg/mikey worthless racing, will we have a press conference about june announcing the formation Kenseth Racing? Matt Kenseth and a group of 'partners' 'buy' a team from roush/fenway and create an 'alliance' with roush/fenway whereas their team is another of these 'in-house partnerships'.

Monkeesfan said...

The points gymnastics will only stop when NASCAR stops sending teams home after qualifying. It isn't supposed to be that cars go home after qualifying - the sport can easily afford larger starting fields. Qualifying is supposed to determine where you start - NOT WHETHER YOU START.

Anonymous said...

Nascar is going to be in the same boat as Arca and Camping World truck/east series if it keeps up on the "points swap" deals. The kid with the most money is gonna end up with a top level seat because he has money, not nessecarily talent. Take a look at Arca Daytona's entry list, a lot nobody's on it.

Anonymous said...

The top 35 rule has got to go. If you can't get your heap up to speed, put it on the trailer. If 14-time John Force says there shouldn't be guaranteed spots, that's the end of the conversation. Yes, I know NHRA gets four passes and NASCAR gets one. Well, there used to be Friday and Saturday qualifying, so go back to it.

QUALIFYING - to exhibit a required degree of ability in a preliminary contest

Monkeesfan said...

Anonymous #6 - no. You start where you qualify; you race where you start. The basic premise behind the top-35 rule is correct, but it has to be expanded.

Anonymous #5 - if those nobodies win races then they'll stop being nobodies.

Anonymous said...

monkeesfan: those nobodies go out and wreck the field at Daytona and they'll be somebodies, your point? My point is you can buy a ride at every level of racing, Nascar's top tier is next.

stricklinfan82 said...

The point of the top 35 rule was to protect those teams that run the entire series and perform the best. The fact that NASCAR allows these BS point swaps to occur defeats the purpose of the rule.

This should be a no-brainer. If the 22 team folds, the 36th place team should move into the top 35. If the 01 and 41 are contracted with the Ganassi-DEI merger and the 4-team limit, the 37th and 38th place teams should move up into their spots.

The #47, #44, and #77 teams should be locked into the 500 under these conditions. Not the Finch #09, the Childress #33, Robert Richardson Jr., or whoever else has a ton of money sitting around and is the highest bidder. Maybe Larry Gunselman or Rick Ware will buy points and be locked into the 35... wouldn't that be wonderful?

I thought NASCAR was making a step in the right direction when they didn't let DEI sell off the 14 and 13 car's owner's points in '07 after the merger with Ginn Racing, when they didn't let Michael Waltrp swap the 44-00 points last year after DJ retired, and when they didn't let Petty swap the 43-45 points to take advantage of Bobby Labonte's champion's provisional last year. Obviously that was wishful thinking because NASCAR has apparently jumped back into the same old crap.

Just a final quick thought on the "loophole" that would let Theresa Earnhardt become the "owner" of the 09 car.... I thought the rule lets you own 5 teams if one of them is a PART-TIME team with a rookie driver. Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the #09 running the full schedule this year, with several veteran drivers taking turns behind the wheel? It sounds like she would necessarily "own" 5 full-time teams to me (when you count Theresa's sudden "partial ownership" of the Front Row Motorsports #34 team).

Anonymous said...

How do you get approved to run Daytona?

Anonymous said...

ordicatNASCAR can ill afford any controversy or issues brought on from within.
This points swapping mess at the final hour will be looked upon negatively by the fans. It's a dog and pony show! Keep it up NASCAR and you'll find even more empty seats and lower television ratings in 2009.

Monkeesfan said...

stricklanfan82 touches on a bigger issue than the Top-35 rule - the fact NASCAR is not enforcing its car owner rules.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Poole- Good article. Rules are rules and need to be enforced.

More importantly, is Tom Higgins doing OK? I haven't seen any articles by him since November. Thank you.

stricklinfan82 said...

So let me get this straight.... when DEI and Ginn merged in 2007 that gave them 6 teams. Since the limit is 4 teams for one ORGANIZATION, the 01, 1, and 8 stayed. The 14 became the 'new 15'. The 'old 15' team was forced to just go away, and NASCAR BANNED FURNITURE ROW RACING FROM BUYING THE 13's OWNER'S POINTS, and instead forced the 13 to just go away.

Fast forward to 2009. DEI merged with Ganassi to have 6 teams (again). Instead of forcing the extra 2 teams to go away like they did in 2007, NASCAR is completely okay with the excess points being sold off this time around.

Last year Penske swapped the owner's points on the 2 and 77 cars. That was perfectly okay to NASCAR. But when Michael Waltrip wanted to swap the 44 and 00's points after DJ retired, that wasn't allowed. At that time NASCAR distinguished pre-season point swaps as being more acceptable than mid-season point swaps, but then turned right around and let the #28 Jay Robinson Nationwide buy Armando Fitz's #36 points the same month.

I'm tired of these BS point swaps, tired of NASCAR claiming they "never allow people to buy points", and I'm especially tired of the inconsistency in enforcing their "rules" regarding point swaps. I guess you're never going to stop these BS paper minority purchases of teams but how about applying a common sense rule that allows NASCAR to nix point swaps?

Anyone with common sense understands what is a legitimate team purchase and what is a point purchase:

- DEI and Ginn 2007: merger, I was completely okay with the 15 getting the 14's points.

- Michael Waltrip and Daugherty-JTG in 2008: merger, I was fine with the 00's points going to the 47.

- Yates and Hall of Fame: merger, I'm fine with the 28/38's points going to the 96.

- Bill Davis (who already sold his team to the Triad people months ago) and Penske: point purchase, total BS.

- 1/6 of DEI (the #01 car) and Richard Childress: point purchase, total BS.

Morgan-McClure's downward spiral that ultimately led to their demise started in 2006 when they were 36th in points going into the new year, the #77 Penske team folded, and Michael Waltrip was allowed to buy their points for his new team. Michael's brand spanking new team got protected by the top 35 rule, the Morgan-McClure team that ran the entire '05 season got left out in the cold, the 4 team missed the Daytona 500, and never recovered. Current tax fraud issues aside, had they been locked into the top 35 for the first 5 races of '06, maybe they would have stayed there the rest of the year, carried that over into 2007, and been able to stay around to this day. There are several more examples of Nationwide teams that have suffered similar fates since the top 30/35 rule was inacted.

NASCAR's top 35 rule was designed to protect the "little guys" that were dedicated to being in this sport year after year from being overwhelmed by new rich guys with a ton of money. It sure isn't working out that way thanks to these BS point purchases. Richard Childress's fist full of cash has a brand new team locked in the first 5 races of 2009, and Roger Penske's fist full of cash has his IRL Champion that didn't run well enough last year to earn an '09 exemption locked into the first 5 races of 2009.

Screw rewarding the teams that were loyal enough to run the entire series last year. And screw rewarding the full-time teams that outperformed other full-time teams the year before. Only the brand new or existing floundering teams that have enough money to buy qualifying exemptions deserve to be protected. That's NASCAR's message here, and it stinks.

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