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Monday, January 18, 2010

New rules a sign that NASCAR knows racing has to improve

You can’t move forward by standing still.

NASCAR is finally realizing this, as evidenced by its just-announced decision to switch from a rear wing to a rear spoiler, and other potential changes – including tweaks to the unnecessary bump-drafting and out-of-bounds rules at the restrictor plate tracks.

So what gives? Why is NASCAR finally acknowledging the complaints so many fans and drivers have had over the past couple years about the COT’s ability to race and the quality of the racing in general?

I think they listened because they had to do something to spice up the sport. If NASCAR wants to maintain its huge popularity or even grow in the future, they can’t have Jimmie Johnson running away with endless amounts of races and stinking up the show by taking a dozen titles in a row.

If they let Johnson take over the sport and don’t improve the quality of the racing, they will alienate even more fans, who will flee from an ever-predictable series.

It’s not all on Johnson, though, as he’s not the only reason the sport has become predictable in recent years. The COT is a work in progress, with the drivers still complaining about its lack of ability to turn, and it’s refreshing to see NASCAR finally try to do something about it.

Whether the proposed change will actually help will be tested at Charlotte Motor Speedway in March, and if it doesn’t help the idea should be scrapped.

But at least they’re trying, and that’s important to note.

The rules on the restrictor plates are even more critical to change. When they instituted the harsh rules against bump drafting last fall at Talladega, NASCAR created the unthinkable … a largely single-file race at a restrictor plate track. There were fireworks at the end, normal for a restrictor plate track, but the rest was completely embarrassing for the sport.

If they go through with removing these restrictions, NASCAR will rightfully put the policing of such behavior in the hands of the drivers. By treating them like children and not trusting them to be safe in their bump-drafting (I understand that’s kind of impossible at 200 mph, but if done right no one has to get wrecked), NASCAR created a mess in 2009. Now, the drivers must be smart about it, and NASCAR still has the right to penalize anyone acting too stupid on the track. And if drivers want the respect of their peers in the rest of the season, they shouldn’t do anything too stupid … hopefully. I say we give them a chance to prove they are capable of this.

The same scenario applies for the yellow-line rule. Without that rule, Carl Edwards' car would not have flown into the fence and injured several fans, and we could have had an exciting photo finish last spring at Dega. Get rid of this rule, and let the drivers race.

As the season nears, I’m glad to see NASCAR is not just standing still, and that these changes and possibly more are coming next week.

A new year, with new changes, could very likely improve the racing and bring new fans … or at least keep the old ones from falling asleep on Sundays.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It doesn't really matter what NASCAR does or does not do.

It's simply too late.

The sport of racing is damaged beyond repair, and has no relevence.

Few care and fewer are apt to care in the future.

"The party's over....."

January 18, 2010 at 10:22 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If they don't remove the Chase and Jimmie wins again nothing is going to stave off the exodus from Nascar. If he is that good he can win without the Chase. Marybeth

January 18, 2010 at 3:18 PM 

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