Common sense is one thing NASCAR is seriously lacking these days...along with genuine excitement. Most of the "excitement" that we do have these days just feels contrived, with very few exceptions. Three of those exceptions came when Jamie McMurray won races this year...now that was a breath of fresh air! Unfortunately, those moments are becoming quite rare.
If Brian France makes the kinds of changes to the chase that have been rumored (15 cars, another reset with 3 races to go, etc.), the championship will become even more of a joke and will have even less meaning than it already has. If he does that, next year will also be the first time in over a decade when I won't watch every race. (Although I've already pledged not to watch Kentucky--nothing against that track, but Atlanta is one of my favorites and should not have lost a date to Kentucky.) Most likely, next year, I will end up watching select races at my favorite tracks, but I seriously doubt I'll watch the full season again. There's really just no point in it, since Brian France keeps trying to tell us that only the last few races really matter anyway.
So, how can NASCAR regain some excitement? Here are a few common-sense ideas from my perspective:
1. Get rid of the chase and revamp the point system itself. We're using a point system that is nearly 40 years old, and it's never occurred to anyone that the system itself might need some tweaking? With the right system, the championship battle could automatically become more exciting! True, we may still have some less-than-exciting battles, but the chase hasn't always produced an exciting finish either. In fact, more often than not, it hasn't.
2. I firmly believe that shorter is better. A shorter schedule would benefit everyone, and would make each race count a little more too. I think we should have 30 races per year at the most. NASCAR also needs to race on more tracks that are shorter. Short tracks simply produce more side-by-side racing because the cars are closer together (excluding restictor plate tracks); that is an indesputable fact. We need to get more short tracks back on the schedule. This may be the single biggest factor that has contributed to make NASCAR seem less exciting than it used to be when we went to more short tracks, along with a place like Rockingham which always produced great racing. The races themselves could also stand to be at least a little shorter. Cars are so reliable and it's so easy to make up laps nowadays, the first 1/2 to 3/4 of a race really doesn't mean much at all.
3. I don't think this last item is something NASCAR can do anything about, but I've been reading a book about NASCAR's history lately and have noticed one thing in particular: Drivers raced hard back then because they HAD to. One driver was quoted as saying that he knew he had to finish inside the top-5 in order to break even or make a profit from that race; any other finish meant he lost money that day. Racers have become far too comfortable with their motorhomes and their millions. I'm not saying they don't still have a desire to win--but it isn't a necessity like it used to be. Maybe the downturn in the economy can somehow be a benefit in this regard--if money stops flowing so freely into NASCAR, drivers might not get to be so comfortable anymore.
So, Brian France, how many races do you want me to watch next year? If you go through with your changes, I'll probably watch about half of them. I just wish that the opinions of myself and other people really were important to you.
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