THE WEATHER OUTSIDE IS FRIGHTFUL: Wow, how about three major races being affected by rain on the same day? The Cup race in Martinsville, the open wheel race in St. Petersburg, and the drag race in Charlotte were all affected in one way or another by rain on Sunday. They all had to run or finish running on Monday.
FOUR WIDE, BABY! – A few years ago, John Force and his family had a reality show called Driving Force. Watching that got me a little interested in watching drag racing…not to the extent that I planned my weekends around it, but if I happened to be channel surfing and came across it, I’d stop and watch. And that’s about the extent of my interest these days. But when I heard that they were going to race four wide at Charlotte last weekend, I had to make sure I watched. I set the DVR for the Saturday qualifying and the race on Sunday. Saturday during Funny Car qualifying, two cars lost their bodies in the same race. That was quite a site, and thankfully, no one was hurt (one guy even made it to the finals). The rain on Sunday forced the postponement of the Funny Car and Top Fuel finals, so I didn’t get to see that until I got home. The above mentioned John Force won the race, with his daughter Ashley finishing second. I have to say the four-wide format is a lot more interesting than two wide. I was surprised that the grandstands were only about half full; I would have thought the uniqueness of the format would have drawn a full house. Ah well, Bruton Smith says he’s going to build another one in Las Vegas. Maybe it’ll catch on.
ECONOMICS 101: It’s no secret that NASCAR races are no longer selling out. Bristol had tickets available on race day I hear. I think NASCAR needs to hire an economist. And the first thing that economist will tell them is that when there’s too much supply and not enough demand, you’ve got a problem. What NASCAR needs to do is remove about six races from the season. They go to some tracks twice that they shouldn’t even go to once. Fewer races should meet the current demand, and give the sport time to grow back into a longer season schedule.
PROMOTION 101: Bruton Smith’s four-wide drag strip is an example of a promoter thinking outside the box. NASCAR needs to do the same thing to garner more interest in their product. Here are some ideas stolen taken from Saturday night races:
- Double points – have two or three double-points races during the season. That would give some drivers a chance to make up some ground. Having those at places like Talladega and Bristol would make it even more interesting.
- Heat races – we already have “heat races” to determine the starting lineup at the Daytona 500. Why not do it at a few other tracks? Have four heat races with the top five in each race moving to a semi-final. Then the top five in each semi move on to the final.
- 50 lap points races – Remove the pit crews from the equation, and put the whole thing in the drivers’ hands. Take the top 10 or 20 from qualifying or heat races, and let them go.
NASCAR needs to realize soon they need to do something to get their product back in the minds of sports fans.
MARTINSVILLE: And finally, how about that finish at Martinsville? I DVR’d the race, and unfortunately, wasn’t able to avoid finding out who won. So rather than sit through three hours of the race, I watched it on 2x Fast Forward. I could still see who was leading and only slowed it down to see what caused the cautions. But I did watch the last 30 laps in real time. Knowing who the winner was, it was interesting to see how that last pit stop played out. Not sure if it was luck or skill that won the race, but congrats to Hamilin for making it exciting.