Sunday, November 17, 2013

NASCAR Needs To Make A Change

Two champions have been crowned this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway and between them they had one combined championship eligible win in the 2013 season.

Matt Crafton and Austin Dillon, the 2013 Truck Series and Nationwide Series champions combined for one win in their respective championships. If this isn't a cry for change then I do not know what else will cause change.

Maybe the fact that only four of thirty-three Nationwide Series races were won by drivers eligible for the Nationwide Series championship. Maybe the fact that second place in the Nationwide Series championship, Sam Hornish, Jr. beat champion Austin Dillon in majority of the statistical fields.

Hornish: 1 win, 16 top-fives, 25 top-tens and 603 laps led.
Dillon: 0 wins, 13 top-fives, 22 top-tens and 557 laps led.
Let me not forget to mention that Hornish finished ahead of Dillon in eighteen of thirty-three races including last night at Homestead.

It's not Dillon's fault he won the title without winning a race. It is the system. Forcing drivers to choose only one championship to be eligible for has not solved the problem.

Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano won a combined twenty-two of thirty-three Nationwide races in 2013. Two-thirds of the schedule. Sure you can say admire their love for racing and just bringing back the steering wheel but it ruined the championship.

As for the Truck Series, they were a little luckier. Fifteen of twenty-two races were won by championship eligible drivers with Kyle Busch winning five of the seven races won by championship ineligible drivers. Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon won the other two.

Overall, things have to change. There is no reason for Kyle Busch to compete in twenty-six Nationwide Series races. And while this appears to be mostly a problem because of Kyle Busch, it isn't. He is doing nothing against the rule. He's just racing like he is allowed to do but changes should have been made seven years ago after Kevin Harvick won the then-Busch Series championship while also competing as a full-time Cup Series driver.

Don't get me wrong, I think Cup drivers should be allowed to compete in Nationwide and Truck races but on a much more limited basis. I think it's cool when you see a driver decide to run the Bristol Truck race or Darlington Nationwide Series race. It does add something but they don't need to run majority of the season.

My first proposal would be to change the point system in all NASCAR series. Personally, I am fond of the 9-6-4-3-2-1 system Formula One used for thirty seasons because it only rewards the top six and there are no bogus bonus points. You want to score points; you finish in the top six. No riding around in tenth and calling it a good day. No staying out under caution to lead a lap and get a point either.

That likely won't happen but I want to see some changes to the points system. A one-point interval between each position isn't enough, especially when you give points to everyone who starts a race. Scoring points (in all forms of motorsports, not just NASCAR) should be something earned. Not handed to you because you started the race.

Second proposal: Limit the amount of races championship ineligible drivers can compete in.

The Cup Series can be open to all championship ineligible drivers to compete as much as they want. If a driver wants to run 36 Cup races and not get points for any of them, I say let them. They likely won't be a factor in most races.

As for the Nationwide Series:
1. All the standalone Nationwide Series races are off limits to championship ineligible drivers. That would be six races in 2014 (Iowa in May, Road America in June, Chicago in July, Iowa in August, Mid-Ohio in August and Kentucky in September).

2. I'd also make the following races off limits as well: Bristol spring race, Indianapolis, Richmond in September and the final three races at Texas, Phoenix and Homestead.

Why these races?

Bristol and Richmond because they are short tracks and will give these young drivers a chance to shine and race hard for a win.

Indianapolis because if you are a Cup driver, you shouldn't be dropping down to run the Nationwide Series race in hopes of winning at Indianapolis. That's like Sebastian Vettel running GP2 to try and get a win at Monaco. It's wrong.

And the final three races to give championship eligible drivers a chance to battle for the championship on the track with no interference.

3. I still think Cup drives and other championship ineligible drivers should be allowed to run some Nationwide Series races. There are twenty-one races remaining after the twelve races I have made off limits. Championship ineligible drivers can run in those but there is a quota for where they can run and how many times.

Championship ineligible drivers are limited to seven races and their seven starts are limited to certain track types. Each championship ineligible driver can run:

Two restrictor plate races.
Two races on short tracks (under a mile and a half in length).
Two races on intermediate tracks (a mile and half in length or greater that aren't restrictor plate races).
One road course.

This forces a driver to choice their events wisely. If they choose not to run any restrictor plate races than the most Nationwide starts they can make are five. If they choose not to run any restrictor plates races and choose not to run a road course, the most starts they could make is four.

If a driver runs Las Vegas and Texas in the beginning of the year than he has met his quota for the season on intermediate tracks. If a driver runs Phoenix in March and Darlington in April, then he has met his quota for short tracks and can't run any short track until the following season.

This would keep championship ineligible drivers from running majority of the schedule but also force them to run a variety of tracks as well.

As for the Truck Series, since they only run twenty-two races I won't make any races off limits but there will be a similar quota system.

Championship ineligible drivers are limited to seven starts on the follow tracks:

One restrictor plate race.
Two pavement short track races (under a mile and half in length).
Two races on mile and a half tracks.
One non-restrictor plate race on an oval over two miles in length (So either Michigan or Pocono).
A drivers' seventh start can either be Eldora or Mosport but not both.

Same as the Nationwide Series. Championship ineligible drivers couldn't run majority of the races and they would be forced to run a variety of tracks.

Cup drivers and other drivers would still get a chance to move around the three national touring divisions but would be limited to seven starts in championships they are ineligible for and can only run certain tracks so often. It would give the championship eligible drivers more of a chance to race other drivers eligible for the championship on track without being surrounded by Cup drivers who are only racing for the win and the paycheck and make the championship (especially the Nationwide Series) more genuine.

Changes have to be made by NASCAR. Otherwise look forward to more winless champions in the future.