Monday, January 11, 2010

NASCAR May Fix Problems in 2010

After completing a season that ended with many fans upset about the racing, driver personalities, and just about anything else related to the sport, NASCAR has been surprisingly quiet during the offseason. Before going any further, let’s take a look at some of the issues many fans had problems with in 2009 and what NASCAR may do about these problems this coming year.

First, people still don’t like the COT. After three years, very few in the NASCAR world were able to warm up to the flat rate box that is the Car of Tomorrow. The two most noticeable features on the new car have been the front splitter and the rear wing. After drivers eternally complained about not being able to pass after getting up behind a car because of an “aero push”, NASCAR built a car that would have no such problem, but in the process created a whole new set of problems. Now people think the old car may not have been so bad after all. Rarely do drivers complain about the car in the Nationwide series like they did when the same model ran in the Cup series. So, in the coming weeks NASCAR will likely make an announcement regarding changes to the COT, with a return to the rear spoiler at the top of the list.

The next complaint was heard loud and clear for four weeks last season, and the rest of the time it was grumbled about. That would be the racing at Daytona and Talladega. In each restrictor plate race last season there was a big wreck that involved popular drivers and brought up the never-ending safety concern. In the weeks that followed each race ideas and opinions were thrown around everywhere, ranging from taking off the restrictor plates to flattening the corners. So now the idea being tossed about involves, once again, undoing something that was implemented years ago to try and makes those tracks safer. That would be to remove the yellow line rule that forces drivers to stay on the track regardless if there is room in the pack. While I would like to see this change made for the entire race, it looks like this will only go into affect on the final lap, which still is a move in the right direction. Should Regan Smith get his win back now? I’m just saying.

Also, the bump drafting rule enforced at the beginning of the fall race at Talladega may disappear. That race was highly anticipated by many race fans. After enduring weeks of Jimmie Johnson dominance, fans were looking forward to large packs of cars throughout the race where any driver could come away with the victory. While the race did have “the big one” and an unexpected winner in Jamie McMurray, much of the race was filled with single-file racing around the top up the track because the drivers were instructed not to touch the car in front of them.

Finally, many fans were upset that the races were starting later and later, or they couldn’t find the actual start time of the race. NASCAR took care of that one during the second half of the 2009 season by announcing that all the races will have a uniform start time. 1 p.m. ET, 3: p.m. ET for the west coast races, and 7:30 p.m. ET for night races. It will be nice to see the Daytona 500 end in daylight.

So, after looking through the list of complaints, it looks as though maybe NASCAR really is trying to tailor the sport to those who watch and follow it on a weekly basis. There have been many times over the past decade where I’ve thought NASCAR (and many other sports for that matter) was just into making money and was a puppet to the television companies. While we will have to wait and see what changes are actually announced on January 21st during the NASCAR Media Tour, all signs point towards a sport that will be moving in the correct direction for a change.

As you probably know, my biggest problem with the sport is the debris cautions. I have watched several old races this offseason and saw two cautions for oil on the track. Otherwise, the yellow was not thrown unless there was an actual incident on the track. I can understand NASCAR staying quiet on this issue because they would rather not admit that those cautions are bogus, but I certainly hope to see less “debris” cautions in 2010. With everything else heading the right way, it would be a shame for this issue to remain a thorn in the NASCAR fan’s side. Regardless, there are more reasons to be optimistic about the 2010 season than there have been in seasons past.


  1. Nice job of wrapping up all the rules changes, JM.

    I can't help but wonder why they're waiting until just 2 weeks before the cars are on the track at Daytona to introduce these changes?

  2. Gene - I totally agree. It would have been nice to know that these ideas were being discussed. I hope the teams have had more of a heads up than the public. I also hope the changes are made for Daytona, not at some point during the season.

  3. dang, after seeing the title I thought you had a scoop about us replacing all the officials :P

  4. hmm, 1pm EST for races....wouldn't that time make the Coke 600 clash horribly with the Indy 500 now?

  5. tezgm99 - Don't we wish. How about only three or four people in the tower along with the pit road officials. That will cut out the folks around the track that keep calling in false alarms.

    Also, the Coke 600 will remain at it's normal time. That was the only race to break the mold probably because of just that reason. Now if only Indy would move up an hour like it used to be, but I guess that won't happen until Danica is in the Cup series.