My Two Cents on NASCAR’s Race Format Changes
NASCAR made a major announcement Monday. They introduced their new on-track procedural changes for 2017. Everyone is formulating their own opinion. I'm no different, but it might not be what you would expect.
In short, the biggest race format change that NASCAR announced was that each race will feature three segments. The top-10 finishers of the first two stages will be awarded additional championship points. Bonus points if you prefer. The goal is to make drivers compete throughout the entire race.
After each segment, they will do a TV timeout (just like in NFL, NCAA, NBA, etc), then they will open pit lane. The cars rejoin the field how they leave pit road. After that they throw the green for the next segment.
They award what they are calling playoff points after each segment and for a race win. These points are used during the ten-race playoffs at the end of the year. Their goal is to make what a driver does in February matter in November. It also keeps teams racing for a win after they have already qualified for the playoffs.
I think that it's trendy to 'hate' anything NASCAR does, so no matter what they did haters were going to hate. I personally think that, on paper, these changes are a good thing for their brand of racing. It does fix what I think is the real problem, but it should offer more excitement during a race.
I constantly see/hear my racing friends point out that NASCAR needs to returns to its roots. "They should have never changed it in the first place," is the most common theme. Maybe, maybe not. I don't think it's the rules packages or race format that old school NASCAR fans miss, and here is where I think the real concern lies.
WHERE ARE THE GUNSLINGERS?:
It isn't the playoff system or the on-track procedures that has so many race fans up in arms claiming the demise of the sport. It's the watered down brand that has brought on all this hate. The sport used to be filled with so many personalities that it was like an old western movie. There were people you loved. There were people you loved to hate, and all of these gunslingers were not afraid to speak their mind.
That 'hay day' that old school fans miss had more to do with what Terry Labonte would say after getting dumped by Dale Earnhardt Sr. on the last lap at Bristol Motor Speedway. The war of words off the track and the battle of fenders on the track between Dale Sr. and Darrell Waltrip kept everyone engaged. Whether you loved one or the other, it was compelling, and you tuned in to see what would happen next. The race format was an after thought.
The new modern era of NASCAR still has drivers people love and hate, but there is little personality any more. To me there is very little difference between Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, and so on and so on. They all can driver, but there is no personality.
A majority of today's drivers all say the same thing. Regardless if they are happy or mad, you hear the same watered down verbiage that borders on politically correct diabetes.
I may not agree with all of the rules that NASCAR implements, but I don't think it is NASCAR that 'ruined' the sport. It's the politically correct crap of words that is streaking the bowl.