Races, tracks, drivers and all the drama that comes along with it
Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:31 pm
By Doug Demmons
Folks who defend the practice of start and park in NASCAR -- which is once again an issue thanks to Jennifer Jo Cobb and 2nd Chance Motorsports at Bristol -- tend to fall back on two main themes:
1. It’s been going on forever.
2. The teams who do it have no other choice.
Both arguments are ridiculous.
Repeating a mistake over and over doesn’t make it better. It institutionalizes it.
And I’ve never seen anyone with gun to the head of a team owner telling him he has to compete in a series he doesn’t have the money to compete in.
But let’s not get into all that. Let’s get to the real reason that start and park is tolerated.
It’s the romantic attachment to the idea that the little guy can put together a race team with more determination than money, show up at the track and run with the big guys. That worked in 1960. In 2011 it’s an anachronism.
In 2011 a start-up team is never going to compete against the likes of Roush-Fenway, Childress, Hendrick, etc. by scraping together a few thousand here and a few thousand there by starting and parking. And quitting after a few laps sure doesn’t impress any sponsor worth having.
But the idea of providing opportunities for small teams is worthy. Everybody likes to see the little guy do well. Every likes a good underdog story.
So if NASCAR really wants to keep this small-team-can-make-it myth going, it needs to lend a helping hand.
There are plenty of ways to do that, but they all involve providing small teams with some of the resources they need to compete.
So how about NASCAR establishing a program to do just that? Any team that enters only one car would be eligible.
Teams in this program would be allowed to participate in NASCAR-funded test sessions and be given access to wind tunnel time. Teams in this program would get discounted rates on tires whenever they buy enough tires for the entire race.
Teams would receive NASCAR-funded pit-crew training. They would receive bonus money on top of their prize money whenever they finish the race.
This would, of course, be expensive for NASCAR, so the cost ought to be spread around. There are two good ways to do that.
One is the luxury tax concept. In baseball, the teams on payroll binges are taxed to send money to the poorer teams. NASCAR could “tax” its super teams in the interest of improving the level of competition on the track each week. The NFL calls that parity and it makes the sport healthier.
Another way is for NASCAR to recruit a sponsor to foot part of the bill. The sponsor would get a prominent position – although not the hood -- on each car in the program.
There are probably numerous other ways that small teams can be helped enough that they won’t have to resort to starting and parking. Whatever form it takes, there has to be come kind of help.
The time for ignoring the problem is over.
Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:40 pm
I would agree. Start-and-park teams never made any sense to me. What do they expect to gain by doing it?
Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:30 am
I think that if the owner plans on doing a start and park with his team, then don't bother showing up and leave the space for a team that actually plans on competing for the entire race. The team that wants to race the entire race may have to start at the back, but at least they have no intention on parking it.
Fri Mar 25, 2011 8:56 am
I like the idea. The only hold up would be the big money teams won't want to lose any of their big bucks.
Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:28 am
I read some where a while back that they call start and park field fillers because they don't have anyone else that is good enough to drive like our drivers.They have to fill 43 cars in the field thats why they do start and park,and i think Larry Mac and DW said that one time during the race.
Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:53 am
I had to go read a couple articles to gain a better understanding. Looks like you are right... it's done mostly to fill the field to 43 cars.
Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:04 am
Here is a question...if 46 to 48 cars are trying to compete for one of those 43 spots, then why bother to let those who have no concern about going past a start and park situation.
Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:10 am
beaverpond,that is a good question.should email that question in and see if they answer that.
Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:17 am
beaverpond wrote:Here is a question...if 46 to 48 cars are trying to compete for one of those 43 spots, then why bother to let those who have no concern about going past a start and park situation.
When I see Drivers like Ken Schrader ( who wants to race) not get in the field because a Start & Park team is 1/000 faster, it pisses me off !!! JMO
Sun Mar 27, 2011 12:45 pm
My Answers are this (I like being outside the box)
1st make it the top 30 instead of top 35, but if you wish to keep it the top 35 my senario would still work.
Those not in the top 35 run a B-main style race. The top 8 in that race get to qualify with the other top 35. (Only 43 cars qualify) This would mean every one could use qualifying packages or on impound races their race set ups, since anyone qualifying would already be in the field. Now the race would have to be under a fuel run, because you are trying to find the faster cars, not pit stratergy. This would eliminate those one lap wonders but having a crap car beyond that. If a team wants to commit to racing this race & is good enough to finish in the top 8, & still wants to start & park so be it, but I think a lot of these Start & parkers would get weeded out. It would add one more thing (race) for Nascar to make money which is always important to them. Start those outside the top 35 by points. 36th place starts on the pole 37th 2nd & so on.