Testing ban great idea to help cut costs in bad economy, level playing field
Almost everyone else in the garage, including Jack Roush, is in favor of the decision to cut out testing in a move to help teams save money. With layoffs coming around the garage area and sponsorship hard to find, saving money is key right now. Starting Jan. 1, teams will not be allowed to test at any track hosting sanctioned events in the Cup, Nationwide, Truck or Camping World series.
When the only people who think it’s a bad idea are the 3-time reigning champion and his car owner -- the people who no doubt have benefited most from testing over the years -- you can bet it’s a good thing for the sport as a whole. Powerhouse teams like Hendrick now won’t be able to send five cars to a track and get a ton of info that will help them perform better on race weekends.
Now it’s back to the good old-fashioned way of racing. Everybody shows up, does a bunch of practice sessions that weekend (more time will likely be allotted for practice, especially for the rookies), and then they race. Gone are the useless weeks of preseason testing at Daytona, which has always been a complete waste of time as teams were mostly sandbagging anyway.
Drivers and other team members will have more free time to spend with their families, so I bet they’re all very happy (with the exception of Johnson).
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin put it perfectly, saying: “We get a lot of practice. We get almost three hours of practice every weekend. That’s a lot. If we can’t learn it by then, we shouldn’t be in the sport.”
Compare that to Johnson, who said: “I think it’s a mistake. I think the teams need a chance to work on their cars to improve their programs, to put on a better show.”
What he really means is that it’s a bonus for the smaller teams who can’t afford to test as much as the Hendricks of the world, and will level the playing field more, lessening the likelihood of a Hendrick dynasty continuing.
That’s good news in my book , and anyone who wants a more competitive Cup series should also be happy with this decision.
The key will be for NASCAR to keep an eye on any way teams may try to skirt the rule and do a bunch of testing on nonsanctioned tracks. This would violate the spirit of the law, and I hope teams don't do this. Roush has called for a total ban on all testing at all tracks, and said that while he has no intention of skirting the rule, he would have to follow other teams’ lead if they failed to avoid going “to the skid pads … to Canada … to Pikes Peak or any of the places they're checking on.”
I’m with Roush on this one. If NASCAR wants to be serious about this ban, they should flat out ban testing. Let the drivers show up, practice and race without 50 pages of data to analyze. It would be a throwback to a simpler era before teams grew so large they could afford to spend $100,000 a day on testing.