I hope everyone is staying warm. Spring and the racing season are just about officially around the corner! Before I delve into the topic my title states, I wanted to share that the Motorsports 2011 show and the Atlantic City Indoor Races were once again a success and a great time. Photos from the show can be viewed at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2066219&id=37801386&l=0c43f11051 and videos from the races can be watched at http://www.youtube.com/ajcrdstr24.
Now, for the main topic. I came up with this idea after reading the numerous articles prior to, during and after NASCAR announced their changes for 2011. Many are clearly not my own original ideas, but I think put together these would make for a competitive racing series. Since I'm not close to knowledgeable with cars themselves, this is mostly an overview regarding the competition:
- Practice - An hour and a half to two hour practice session, which takes place prior to qualifying. If the practice session is postponed due to inclement weather, the qualifying session will be replaced with a practice session and the speeds will set the order for the race.
- Qualifying - Slowest car in practice qualifies first, fastest qualifies last. If a car does not practice a specified number of laps, it will not be eligible to qualify. A pre-determined amount of cars, depending on the race track's size, will qualify for the race. In the event that qualifying is canceled, practice session speeds will set the order for the race.
- Provisionals - Up to 4 provisional starters will be added to the field. A team must be in the top 25 in points and have competed with the same driver for at least 90% of the races to be eligible. A team can use up to 2 provisional starts a year.
- Last Chance Race - To set the remaining 4 spots in the field, a short distance last chance race will be held. Teams will be paid a small sum of money for competing in this race. I stress small so that it will not benefit a team to start and park in the race. To transfer into the field, the driver must finish on the lead lap. In the unlikely event that less than four cars finish the scheduled distance, then only the drivers that finish will transfer into the field.
- Race - Declared official once one lap more than half the race has concluded. Caution laps due to weather will not count. A pre-determined limited number of tires may be used per car in each race. Sharing tires between teams will be forbidden. Drivers will not race back to the caution, but there will not be a lucky dog/free pass rule. Lapped cars that are determined to be running a comparable pace with the leaders are allowed to hold their track position under caution and prior to the double-file restart. They are also allowed to pit on the same lap as the leaders. Pit stops for tires under caution will be disallowed during the last 10% of the race distance and will result in a two lap penalty, unless a flat or flat-spotted tire can be proved. Caution laps will count, except during the last ten laps. In other words, ten non-consecutive green flag laps must be run to finish the race.
- Post-Race - If a technical infraction is found or a team breaks any other unlawful rules, they will forfeit all points and money won for the weekend. A post-race autograph/meet-and-greet session will take place following victory lane festivities. Post-race should allow the fans, teams and drivers to embrace the race that just took place. Drivers shouldn't have to race out to catch their plane and fans shouldn't have to race out to beat traffic. Drivers will be required to participate, but of course exceptions will be made in the unfortunate event where a driver is forced to seek further medical attention following the race.
- Points - Will be rewarded in a fashion where first will receive the most points and last will receive the least, as it is with most stock car racing series. Bonus points will be rewarded to lap leaders, but laps under caution will not count towards bonus points. The driver leading the most green flag laps will receive a further bonus. Due to the close competition in this day and age, qualifying points will not be rewarded. The driver with the most points at the end of the season will win the points championship.
- Money won - Similar to golf, poker tournaments and major short track races across the country, the winner of the race will win a larger sum of the money. 2nd through last will receive a slightly decreasing amount of money. The driver who wins the most money (contingency money not included) at the end of the season will be rewarded with a further bonus as well as the money won championship. The top 20 in points will also receive bonuses via a point fund.
- Rookie of the Year - A driver is eligible for rookie of the year if they competed in less than seven races in the series or another series of a pre-determined higher or same level during previous seasons. A driver will lose their eligibility if they fail to attempt at least 90% of the races during the season. If no eligible driver meets the aforementioned criteria, then there will be no rookie of the year award. The rookie with the most driver points (same as what determines the points champion) will win the rookie of the year award.
To sum things up, I think it would be advantageous to have both a points champion and a money won champion. Rewards would go out for both winning and consistency. From various short track races I've been to recently, I think that a race not ending until ten non-consecutive green flag laps are completed is a better idea than multiple green-white-checkered finishes. While racing back to the caution is quite unsafe, I still think that a driver should earn their lap back rather than receive a free pass. I strongly object to a driver winning rookie of the year for only competing in approximately half the races. I also dislike when a race is decided based on pit strategy very late in the race. As important as the pit crews are, I think the drivers should have to earn the victory on the race track and I think it's thrilling to see them wheel an ill-handling car on older tires for the win as well. A driver should have to earn their way into the field, but I don't think there is anything wrong with a mulligan or two. Bad weekends happen. Most important of all, the races take place mainly because of the fans. Their ticket purchase should give them the right to meet the drivers and personalities no matter high or low the level of racing is.
Love them or hate them, those are the ideas that I think would work the best. Next time, I'm sure I'll be talking about some more racing related subjects. I'll also talk about my preparation for attending the big race at North Wilkesboro Speedway in April.
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