Thursday, December 23, 2010

A NASCAR Christmas list

Christmas is upon us and I'm sure you've all got you're shopping done right? Welcome to the club. We are less than two months away from the 2011 season officially starting at Daytona, here's a look at a NASCAR Christmas wish list. Some of these are reasonable, some should happen but won't, others are just, well, out there.

The winning points: There's not a lot wrong with the Chase as it's set up now, but a little tweaking would help. Let's give the winner of each race all season an extra 100 points. That would eliminate some of this so called points racing, which isn't really racing at all. And if it gets late in the pre-chase season, it would force some drivers to take a chance with strategy in order to get a win. NASCAR needs more of a go-for-it atmosphere, not a play it safe style, if it wants to regain some popularity.

Chase variety: NASCAR should start a system of alternating which tracks will be in the Chase for the Championship. If you really want to see who the champion is, make those last 10 races be on different tracks each year. Yes, we know the last three or four will be limited to warm-climate places, but shouldn't places like Daytona and Bristol be a part of the Chase at least on some years. We know the No. 48 team has those last 10 races mastered, and it might win the title no matter where the final 10 races are, but at least make them hit a curveball.

Pit rewards: The job of the pit crew is essential for a good team. Just ask Johnson after he switched with Jeff Gordon during the Chase this year. But since these guys play a vital role in winning and losing, take the total pit time of each car on the lead lap and give the winning team 10 points. We've known for years that these guys really matter, let's measure it in a positive way. With today's technology, it would be very easy to have this updated throughout the race.

Starting times: NASCAR made a positive move this year, giving us consistent starting times in each time zone. They would do better if they said the green flag was dropping at say, 1 p.m., not 1:20. Between SpeedChannel, ESPN and Fox, we've got plenty of pre-race coverage.

Pole points: Qualifying should mean at least a little something. We know some guys are no good at it, and then move right to the front during the race (see Kevin Harvick as exhibit A). So to make it at least a little more interesting, give the pole position winner 10 points. Right now, every one knows that the final practice the day before the race is usually more indicative of who's going to compete for the win rather than the qualifying times.

Team scoring: Take teams that have three or four cars, and at the end of the race, the team with the lowest total score, say, Childress cars finish 2, 3 and 4, then they get nine points, each driver on that team gets 10 points. Last season the Childress, Hendrick, Gibbs, Penske, Petty, Roush and Michael Waltrip teams regularly had three cars or more cars in the field. That's enough to make this a legitimate category.

Less Chad Knaus: OK, we know the guy is good, probably the best, even though he has the best technology to help him. We don't need to witness an attitude, more so then the actual words, that tells us he is the best.

Level technology: If NASCAR wants to really level the playing field, it should make top technology available to all teams. That means if the one-car operation of Robby Gordon wants to test his engine during the week, he should be able to rent at a reasonable price, the best machine for one day so he could get the latest info. That's where the top teams have the real advantage.

That might be the best Christmas present of all.

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