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How to fix NASCAR:

   Taking a leap of faith....TV's Krista Voda (Photo: Kristavoda)


   By Mike Mulhern

   FORT WORTH, Texas

   Let's play a game.
   If you were the boss of NASCAR, what would you do to perk things up, to rally the fans, to fill the stands, to get more eyeballs on the tube?
   Now maybe NASCAR doesn't need fixing. Maybe it just needs to ride out the slump.
   But maybe some things can be done...and should be done.

   Some things seem obvious: reward wins with more points, reward drivers who lead laps.
   How much more exciting would the Talladega 500 have been if the men in the chase were getting bonus points for leading laps. Not just that five-point bonus for leading one lap, or the 10-point bonus for leading the most laps – that's almost an insult to a driver, a measly 10 points for leading, say, 100 laps?
   A point for every lap led, for the men in the chase. Maybe throughout the 'regular season' too.
   Then again, maybe the chase simply doesn't work anyway. It hasn't led to sparkling TV ratings lately.
   And maybe we're just putting too many guys in the chase: does a guy who is a 12th-place runner throughout the 'regular' season really a legitimate championship contender?
   Maybe the chase should feature only the five or so best drivers over the first part of the season. That would certainly liven up things in August, when the countdown to the chase cutoff begins in earnest.


  Now this dog can hunt. Maybe a good underdog story, like Elliott Sadler, will help the sport (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   One suggest has been to shorten the season and to shorten many of the races.
   Well, for those of us who don't have private jets to whisk us from shop to the track and back each week, this February Valentine's Day to November Thanksgiving NASCAR calendar is downright grueling.
   But that's not really the point here.
   The point is how to grab fans' attention and hold it...whether it's on any given 500-mile Sunday, or over the full-boat 10-month season.
   Maybe it's time to resurrect that American League/National League concept that T. Wayne Robertson, the late RJR sports boss, once suggested.
   Not for the whole season, but for a summer stretch perhaps:
   Instead of four hours of racing with the Pocono 500, make it two hours of racing at Pocono, starting at 1 p.m., and then two hours of racing at, say, Iowa Speedway, starting at 3 p.m.
   Maybe a Sonoma-Watkins Glen double-header too, similar, same-day. Half the field at one track, the other half at the other.
   More winners, more action, shorter races....
   A couple of weekends like that might be interesting.
   We need to get more creative with promotion here, and just changing the size of the coolers you can bring into the track probably isn't the solution.

  Maybe NASCAR-on-TV tries too hard to be Politically Correct. Maybe we need to bring back Mr. Excitement, Jimmy Spencer, whose irreverence and outspoken nature can be delightful. Maybe the new Speed/Fox TV production boss Patti Wheeler will fire things up. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   Right now it could easily be argued that one problem facing this sport is that there's just too much NASCAR. It's seemingly endless. Race after race after race, week after week after week. Same cast of characters....
   Maybe fans would like a break somewhere along the line.
   Remember how excited everyone is about Daytona's Speedweeks? More than two months of no NASCAR, and then Bang!
   That's what we need to catch.
   Let's first reshape the NASCAR calendar.
   The first part of the season, February through May, goes rather well, it seems. Football is over, basketball is nearly over, baseball is just getting started. NASCAR rules.
   Right through the Charlotte 600 and the Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend.

   Then things get a little ragged. June, July and August. Perfect time for a couple of those double-headers. And let's really work on the NASCAR 'camping crowd.' Maybe even take a couple weeks off and then regroup?
   Then comes the September-October-November run, which has become really ragged the last couple of years, it seems, highlighted this fall by plunging TV ratings.
   September in particular is tough for NASCAR, with all the competition for late-summer attention, from football on....

   But then the sport really isn't helping itself with its lineup of 'chase' tracks.

   SPEED's Steve Byrnes, back on the beat (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   The chase should kick off with a bang – maybe the Labor Day weekend itself, rather than mid-September when it gets lost in the crush.
   Bristol and Richmond would be great chase races. But the last few years the Richmond 'playoff clincher' marketing gimmick has been little more than hyped up talk about whether the 13th-best driver in the sport can edge out the 12th-best driver in the sport, to make the playoffs....when neither of those guys really has much of a chance at the title (though Clint Bowyer, without that controversial penalty at Loudon, might have been the exception here).
  It seems like such an easy concept, and so obvious – put the sport's best race tracks in the chase.
  -- Reward winning with a big points payday.
  -- Reward leading laps with big points payouts.
  Make these guys work for their points, not just stroke their way along.
  Reward aggressive, offensive action, rather than conservative, defensive play. The current points system needs to be revamped.
   Now the TV ratings game may be really just an artifice, a seriously misguided attempt to put numbers on something.
  And TV, remember, is not always looking for the same audience that NASCAR and its sponsors are looking for.

  And the winner of the grape-stomping contest is....HLN TV's Robin Meade. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    TV, for whatever reason, has long coveted the mystic 18-34 male demographic....whatever that is. Think about it: When you were 18, or if you are 18, what in the world do you have in common with someone 30 or 34 or 35, who is likely now married and doing much different things than the 18-19-20s are doing?
  But here's Fox' David Hill, angered by what he sees is a precipitous drop in NASCAR's 18-34 male demographic; 30 percent down in 2010 from 2009 along, and also down in 2009 from 2008 in significant numbers.
   First: let's get some real transparency here. Let's get Fox and Turner and ABC/ESPN to put out all the numbers – the full demographic breakdown – for all NASCAR Sprint Cup events. For each Cup event. So we can see what the Chicago/Joliet race in mid-July does really attract – and how a Saturday night race there differs from a Sunday race there. How a two-day race weekend differs from a more normal three-day race weekend.
   The first few years after NASCAR's Brian France pulled off that big network package, Fox and NBC, then the two major partners, gave us all the numbers we could handle. Market by market.
   That's what we need here right now. Before you can solve a problem, my father would always tell me, first you have to define the problem.
   Has NASCAR really defined the problem yet?
   Or maybe NASCAR execs don't really want us to know what the real situation is.

  Yes, ESPN/ABC/Disney has a NASCAR army....but, uh, where's the beef? Is that 3.1 Talladega 500 TV rating the high-water-mark for the championship chase? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   Taking Chicago as a case in point, because it's a key market – or should be a key market for NASCAR – (and because we've beaten to death the Los Angeles marketing game for years now, trying to figure the key there).
   One question I have here is, if the Chicago-Joliet NASCAR race is somewhat iffy, as a mid-summer-night's tour stop, what might it look like in 2011 when it's scheduled for mid-September, in Bears country, with baseball at its peak....
   NASCAR has moved the Chicago/Joliet event to the start of the championship chase. Will it have more impact than starting the chase at New Hampshire Motor Speedway? Bruton Smith, who owns the Loudon, N.H., track, says the chase doesn't sell any tickets for him.
   And after all the chase is really more of a made-for-TV fall series than anything. Do fans go to Charlotte Motor Speedway or Kansas just to see what happens to the guys in the chase....or do they go to watch a race?
   Do fans turn on the TV each October to see how those chase guys are doing? Well, we've got a red-hot championship chase going on right now, with Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick trying to dethrone Jimmie Johnson, and yet even last weekend's Talladega 500 – which over the years is typically NASCAR's highest rated fall event – was down 25 percent in TV viewers from 2009.
  We pointed out some of the numbers in an article last week in mikemulhern.net   http://bit.ly/db7EBh   And the comments from mikemulhern.net viewers are insightful.
  Now we need to figure out how to change that TV dynamic.
  For one, how many pre-race TV shows does this sport really need? Three hours worth? Last Sunday's Talladega pre-race was classic – same handful of drivers, same questions, same answers....again and again and again. If it weren't for .... http://dalyplanet.blogspot.com/  it might be hard to keep track of all these shows and who's on first.....
  Second, how much does Speed (cable) really impact this sport? Is it as effective as it could be? Bringing Steve Byrnes back on the road may be a key.
  Third, how many announcers does this sport really need? Sometimes it's dizzying to figure out who's in charge. It wasn't that long ago, was it, that the sport did pretty well with three guys in the booth and a couple of reporters in the pits. Not to knock ESPN, because it is throwing an army at this sport – but to be blunt, where are the results? 
  Fourth, how about cutting those darned commercials down? Maybe if there were fewer commercials, and in short blocks, and if a quarter-screen-shot of live action were used to keep fans from being in the dark for such long stretches of the race, there might be better ratings....
   But this is just Mike's Take. What's yours?


  Crew chief Todd Parrott (R) opened the weekend hot...now can he and Elliott Sadler close the deal? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)





Fans, I'ev said it once and

Fans, I'ev said it once and I'll say it again. Nascar listen up.
HEAT RACES and a MAIN. What better could a race day be then watching 4 heat races and a main.
If you finish good in the heat race, then you transfer to the main. You must earn your way in the race.
If you have ever been to the big Late Model Stock race at Martinsville , you will not find any better racing.
This could be the savior of NASCAR

Ditto! I couldn't have said

Ditto! I couldn't have said it no better.

EXPAND the chase. Make it 36

EXPAND the chase. Make it 36 races, and all drivers eligible.

1. drop the chase. 2. drop

1. drop the chase.
2. drop this top-35 BS.
3. drop any and all provisionals.
4. top 43 fastest qualifiers, period.
5. award points for qualifying, simply put top 4 get 4,3,2,1 points.
6. pole sitter draws invert pill on raceday to invert 2 rows, 20 rows, etc.
7. award 1 point per lap led.
8. publish the rule book for all to see
9. CONSISTANCY...sorely lack from NA$CAR, broadcasters and commentators.
10. bring back Jimmy Spencer.
11. simplify the points: 43 points for a race win down to 1 point for last place
12. heat races wouldn't be a bad idea.
13. put the "stock" back in stock car.
14. end these exclusivity contracts for series and race sponsors.
15. stop dictating gear ratios and shock packages, let the crew chiefs earn their money by doing what they do best.

After each 1/10th of the

After each 1/10th of the race: 5 points for being 1st, 3 points for 2nd-5th, 1 point for 6th-10th. 4x those value for qualifying position.

Dump the chase. Keep the drama and reduce the random-chance factor by having the worst two results for each driver not count toward the final points total.

How to fix Nascar Winston

How to fix Nascar Winston Cup.

* First, Richard Petty won 7 Winston Cup Championships, zero Nextel Sprint cup championships or whatever the hell they call it. You cannot erase the past nor should you.
* Roll the clock back 30 years, bring back bias ply tires, radials don't offer the same side by side racing.
* slow the cars down about 40 mph - racing was much better when the cars were slower with side by side racing
* less rules,less rules, less rules - allow crews some creativity
* raise the cars about 5 inches. racecars are supposed to difficult to drive, not slot-cars with all this aero-dynamic crap.
* no splitters, no roof foils, no wicker bills, no rear window wings,
* Car manufacturers need brand identity, not just a sticker
* let drivers be themselves, PC sponsor spewing drivers are boring and the majority of the time can't drive, ie: Michael Waltrip
*dump the chase, go back to the old points system. If you just have to tweak, it allow a bonus for winning a race
* shorten the Pocono race, dont drop the races, variety of racetracks is good, not bad.
* start times need to be consistent, same time. look at the NFL, i know the start times are 1 and 4 on Sundays.
* Have the tracks take down some grandstands.
* less is more
* Kiss - keep it simple stupid

Actually, Richard Petty

Actually, Richard Petty didn't win 7 Winston Cup championships. He was a champion before Winston got into NASCAR.

Nascar on TV? The problem is,

Nascar on TV? The problem is, somebody made a decision that watching pit stop after pit stop is preferable to watching the race itself. Why? As a racing fan, I want to watch RACING, not 6 guys changing tires and adding gas to a car over and over and over again. BORING! Get back to televising the racing action, and show when ANY car passes another car, and you will make watching the race exciting again.

1. Fire all current

1. Fire all current broadcasters - none of them are honest, NONE.
2. No broadcaster should have ANY affiliaton with ANY team.
3. Show every piece of debris that causes a caution, every time.
4. If a race is called the "whatever"500 then show 500.
Every minute of play in a stick and ball sport, college or pro
is shown when televised. A few minutes of tape delay is better than
10 laps of racing, then 8 laps of commercials. Show commercials
during cautions if nothing else.
5. Publish the rules and enforce them equally. Every football fan knows
that a first down is 10 yards. We don't know what ANY rule is!!!!!!
6. Show all of the drivers.
7. Quit stealing sponsors from teams.
8. If you can't properly inspect a car before a race - you can not
penalize that car after the race.
9. Learn the definition of credibility, then , be credible.
10.Listen to what your fans are saying ( see all above )

Aside from needed changes for

Aside from needed changes for NASCAR, the fanbase needs to accept some realities ---

1 - Fans need to accept that the cars can never again look different - fans need to accept that form follows function and it dictates that brand identity has no place in the real world of racing anymore

2 - Fans need to accept that "cookie cutter" tracks are better than those tracks that always get credit for having "personality." Personality is overrated as far as racetracks go to begin with and the tracks that get credited for "personality" tend to be narrow, uncompetitive places.

3 - Short tracks simply are outdated for NASCAR's big touring series. Winston Cup is a superspeedway league.

As for the changes the sport needs -

1 - PLATE THE CARS. The fact remains that plate racing is superior in competitive depth to anything else. The plates slow the cars down and do so cheaply; they're a simple solution. The plates allow the cars to run open throttle at safer speeds and help take handling out of the equation - the reality is handling gets in the way of passing.
2 - GO TO THE "OLD" BODYSTYLE - Long snout, flush airdam, no gap or splitter, chopped roofline with roof blade for raw drag and resultant drafting effect, large blade spoiler with wicker, keep the bumpers lined up for push-drafting.
3 - ABANDON THE CHASE FORMAT AND REVERT TO A MUSCLED-UP VERSION OF THE LATFORD SYSTEM - The Chase format has to go; a playoff format does not work in racing, a sport of 1-versus-42, not team versus team. What is needed is the basic Latford Point system (175 for 1st, 170 for second, 165 for 3rd, etc.) but with 125-50 or more bonus points for winning the race and 100-25 bonus points for most laps led - to where there is left no mathematical possibility of a championship without most wins and most laps led.
4 - RACES NEED TO BE 500 MILES - NO SHORTER RACES - 500 miles carries a competitive prestige missing from shorter races because it is a superior test of machinery and driver and allows more passing and the outcome always changes in the course of the extra 100-200 miles. Contrary to the myth, shorter races weaken competitive resolve because the instinct is to NOT take chances because there is insufficient length in the race to erase a gap; there is no mindset toward going harder because the race is shorter. Present 400-milers at Vegas, Fontana, Michigan, Dover, Kentucky, Chicago, Kansas, July at Daytona, and Indianapolis need to be lengthened to 500 miles.
5 - A HARD SPENDING CAP AND MULTI-TEAM CONTRACTION MUST BE MADE MANDATORY FOR RACE TEAMS - The sport's cost problems are actually a spending problem; team spending is out of control. The sanctioning body needs to put into race entry blanks a mandate to curb spending at $7-8 million per season per car else entry to races will be denied until verification of adherance to the cap is made. Multi-car organizations must also contract to no more than three cars under one aegis (this includes engine leases i.e. Stewart-Haas would count under the Hendrick cap until SHR severed engine ties and open its own independant engine shop), in order to open up the field for more car owners.
6 - THE SANCTIONING BODY MUST GIVE BACK CERTAIN AREAS OF CONTROL OF THE RACING FROM THE OFFICIATING TOWER TO THE RACERS - The officiating tower has no business policing what part of the racetrack is raced on, whether there is a yellow line or not - if it is paved it is legitimate for passing. It has zero right to dictate when cars can pit and at what speed - no closure of pit road or pit speed limits should be allowed because the safety argument for these rules is dubious at best and the result of them has been corruption of the integrity of the competition. Only the racers should determine what part of the track they race on, when they come down pit road, and at what speed they enter and exit. The ONLY legitimate area for the officiating tower is to police brushbacking of crewmen - cars should be flagged to the garage for brushbacks.
7 - THE RUNNING ORDER MUST BE DETERMINED BY THE START-FINISH LINE ONLY - No more scoring loops, no freezing of the field. Again these are based on a fraudulent premise of safety and their actual result has corrupted the integrity of the competition. The race order must be determined by racing to the stripe. It is a last-word approach that all understand because the finish line by its very concept is the final arbiter of the running order.
8 - IF TRACK CHANGES ARE NECESSARY, THEY MUST BE AIMED AT MAKING BIGGER, WIDER SUPERSPEEDWAYS - The fact remains that the big tracks create more positional passing than smaller tracks and narrower is never good.
9 - ALL CUP PARTICIPATION IN LOWER TOURING SERIES MUST END - BGN and Trucks need to establish their own identity and it cannot happen until Cup drivers are banned.
10 - NO SEND-HOMES AFTER QUALIFYING - Qualifying is supposed to determine where - not whether - you start.
11 - REVERT TO PRE-1 PM START TIMES - Go back to starting races at 12:30 PM area time, so the races get going before anything else and can end at convenient times for those in attendence.
12 - LEAVE SATURDAY NIGHTS TO LOCAL TRACKS - Cup racing needs to stay off Saturday night; those Sat. Nite races have for 20 years helped bleed local tracks of audience.
13 - OPEN INSPECTIONS TO THE OTHER TEAMS - NASCAR needs to take parts from cars under inspection and make them available for other teams to see, to verify for themselves that there is no cheating and also to deter teams from using questionable parts to begin with. It did this with Rusty Wallace's engine in 2000 and there is no reason not to do it every week.
14 - ABORT LIMITS ON NUMBER OF TEST SESSIONS PER SEASON - The biggest mistake NASCAR ever made was limiting testing. 20 years of limits created the multicar monster.
15 - ABORT EXCLUSIVITY AGREEMENTS, NOTABLY WITH TIRE COMPETITION - Firestone and Hoosier can bring new revenue and additional backing for more teams if allowed to compete against Goodyear, and exclusivity agreements with other companies deny the sport revenue streams.

There may be a few items I've overlooked, but there it is.

Echoing what some have said,

Echoing what some have said, differing completely from others, and adding a few things, here's my Top 5 proposals:

1) Race your way in. Get rid of qualifying. The starting positions for the heat races will be determined by the average of a driver's best 20-lap practice speeds. This will allow crews to work on their cars for the race(s), force them to run race setups when practicing, and no more wasted time on 2-lap qualifying. Run 3-4 heats, and then a feature of about 200 miles. The amount of time on TV will be the same, but the racing will be better.

2) Change the schedule. There should only be 4-5 tracks that the tour visits twice. The rest should get only one race. Tony Stewart commented recently that you could not tell the difference between Kansas and Chicago once you were inside the track. Cookie-cutter tracks are BORING. We have been forced to deal with it because NASCAR and Bruton keep building them, and we aren't watching. Perhaps we might tune back in if the tour stopped at those tracks only once, some new/old non-cookie-cutter tracks were added to the schedule, and the weekly format for the racing was better. Uniqueness is what makes the the sport more interesting, both with the drivers and tracks.

3) Bring in some more makes of cars. NASCAR opened the door to foreign makes by letting Toyota in. Bring BMW, Mercedes, and others to the track. I was opposed to letting Toyota in, but since they were let in and aren't going away let's open it up to other manufacturers who we know have a passion for racing. Nissan and Honda don't make a V8 engine, but if they want to join, let them in also. It would be neat to have about 8-10 munufacturers represented at the track each week.

4) Change the point system. The one in use was scribbled on a napkin in the mid 70's. Cars broke down a lot more then and the current system was designed to keep cars on the track even when they have no business trying to continue to race. I prefer that only the cars making the feature get points, but under the 43-car race format only the top 25 cars each week should get points. This would keep the trash off of the track and promote some harder racing back in the field. Winning needs to be rewarded more. A 15-point difference is not enough. Increase the margin to where it's a substantial difference over second place even with bonus points in place, and spread out the points earned for the other 24 spots so that it's worth it to race hard for that one additional spot.

5) Clean up the Nationwide and Truck series by not allowing Cup guys to run for points, and limit the number of times that they can run each series per season. 5 races in each series is a plenty. The Cup guys take potential sponsors away from guys that need them from the Cup drivers them running it either full time or 3/4 of the time. If they spread out where they choose to run, track owners should be pleased that a few will be in the field at their track and those that HAVE to see a Cup driver to make them want to attend will also be satisfied.

1.Get rid of TOYOTA. 2.Get

1.Get rid of TOYOTA.
2.Get rid of foreign drivers there are thousands of american drivers out there that could make it in NASCAR if given a chance.
3.Get rid of some of the pre race junk.Back in the day we couldn't get a line up until race day.
4.Simplify the rule book and make the book available to the fans.Of course there would be a price attached.
5.Get rid of shock @ spring rules also rear end ratios rules.
6.Go back to the old testing rules.
7.Do away with qualifing set ups. Qualify the cars in race set up and park them until raceday. Same everything tires oils lubicants brakes etc.
8.Get rid of this lucky dog crap.
9.Give all drivers as much tv coverage as possible,don't talk about one driver all day.
10.Don't allow TV people to wear car LOGOS/BRAND NAME ON their shirts.Why should Darrell be allowed to sit their with Toyoya on his shirt.Used Darrell as an example but apply it to everyone.
11.Change past champion rule to most recent 2 or 3.
12.Ease up on pit road speeding penalties.Losing 30 positions for .1 is a little to strict.If nascar thinks the extra speed gained the driver 5 positions penalize him positions gained.
13. Make the cars a reasonable replica of the make they represent.Today if they were all painted alike w/o numbers people in the stands can't tell one from the other.
14. there are multitudes of things that could be done to simplify racing.

15.I've been going to races since 1953 and the same teams will win the races no matter what the rules are or the make. NASCAR IS LIKE OUR GOVERNMENT THEY WANT COMPLETE CONTROL OF THE TEAMS AND DRIVERS. cONTINUE WITH THE SAFETY BUT JUST LET THEM RACE.

More on pit road changes

More on pit road changes -

The need for changes on pit road was illustrated at Homestead by two incidents - the speeding penalty on Harvick that killed all momentum toward challenging for the title, and the crewman hit on pit road during one of the yellows.

The Harvick penalty was the officiating tower winding up playing a role in the outcome of the championship. That these pit speeding penalties have had a role in race outcomes has been obvious all along; now NASCAR has to explain why the officiating tower should have a role in a championship outcome as well.

The crew injury is the latest example of what the rule closing pit road has wrought - it has bred pit crashes. The rule closing pit road debuted in March 1989 and pit crashes increased - the years prior to the rule pit road was safe and pit speed limits weren't even an idea. Cars pitted when they wanted to, not when NASCAR would let them, and pit crowding was substantially less frequent.

What does NASCAR think it is preventing with its pit rules? NASCAR needs to drop the rule closing pit road; this will open pit road up to allow cars to pit at more natural staggered intervals and this will make it safer than these other rules (pit speed limits, mandatory crew helmets) have done. It will also remove the black mark of the officiating tower controlling that part of the racing where the racers themselves should have the control.

i agree. as usual (well,

i agree. as usual (well, usually) you are right on target. the penalty on harvick at homestead had a direct bearing on the championship. and it was a questionable call, in the absence of any clear timing evidence. why doesnt tv do a better job on this speeding stuff? oh, that's right, it's tv....sorry.

Give em skinny tars...and let

Give em skinny tars...and let see who can drive ! And run what ya brung... that'll fix it.

Let the fans vote for who announces the races, and which networks get to cover it.

Use blow up dolls in the empty seats.

Mke Brian France come to every race and have to talk to at least 100 fans in the infield every race. He might learn a few things !

It's broke and I'm not sure it can be fixed at this point. How about figure 8 racing next year !

Have yourself a wonderful off season...it's nice not to have to hear Larry McReynolds whine on and on, and DW...stay home next year please. We need a break from your jabber jaw.

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