Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sprint Cup 2011: Preseason -- REALITY CHECK, It's Not Pretty

Folks, in less than two weeks engines will be roaring in Daytona as preparations for the "Great American Race" begin. Rest assured there will be a scurry of activity and some last minute moves, but the cold hard facts raise concern. For starters, there are only 41 teams that have declared, albeit it faintly in some cases, to run full-time. Of those, three are possible start and park entries, five are almost certain stop and park entries. That reduces the number of legit starters to 33.

Well-established race teams: (29 cars)
It's doubtful there will be winners who don't come from this field.
Hendrick Motor Sports, 4 entries (Martin, Gordon, Johnson, Earnhardt, Jr.)
Roush/Fenway, 4 entries (Ragan, Biffle, Kenseth, Edwards)
Richard Childress Racing, 4 entries (Menard, Harvick, Burton, Bowyer)
Joe Gibbs Racing, 3 entries (Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Logano)
Earnhardt/Ganassi, 2 entries (McMurray, Montoya)
Stewart/Haas, 2 entries (Stewart, Newman)
Richard Petty Racing, 2 entries (Ambrose, Almendinger)
Penske, 2 entries (Keselowski, Kurt Busch)
Red Bell Racing, 2 entries (Kahne, Vickers)
Michael Waltrip Racing, 2 entries (Reutimann, Truex Jr.)
JTG Daugherty Racing, 1 entry (Bobby Labonte)

New, Unproven, or Returning to Full-Time (5 cars)
Top 10's would be major accomplishments for these teams!
Wood Brothers, 1 entry (Bayne -rookie)
Front Row Racing, 2 entries (Kvapil, Gilliand)
Rusty Wallace Racing, 1 entry  (S.Wallace)
Furniture Row Racing, 1 entry (Smith)

Here are the Likely Clutter Cretins who won't compete (8 cars)
When the checker flag flies, they'll have flown the coup!
Phoenix Racing, 1 entry (Elliot)
Stavola Racing, 1 entry (Terry Labonte)
Germain Racing, 1 entry (Mears)
Tommy Baldwin Racing, 1 entry (Blaney)
TRG Racing , 1 entry (no driver yet)
Joe Nemechek, 1 entry (Nemechek)
Keyed Up Motorsports, 1 entry, (Riggs)
Dusy Whitney, 1 entry, (Yeley)

Likely Part-Time Teams (7 cars)
Robby Gordon (Gordon)
Michael Waltrip Racing (Waltrip)
Front Row Racing (Richardson)
Germain Racing (Bodine)
Parsons/Humphrey (McDowell)
Leavine/Fenton (Starr)
Joe Nemechek (Conway)

You'll hear it again and again here at RTF, there's nothing wrong with reducing the field to a more realistic and competitive number of cars starting each race. The embarrassment of "start and park" or the Clutter Cretins must be done away with. Getting rid of the junk in the field would mean more purse money for the real competitors or (hah-hah-hah) lower ticket prices. Does anyone complain that there aren't enough starters in the Indianapolis 500?

Shorter races particularly at tracks like Pocono should be considered. How about 400 laps for the spring Bristol race.Would shoot-out style races for some events be an interesting diversion -- shorter races which maximize competition. How hot would a 100-50-20 lap approach be or maybe even a little longer. After each segment, some cars get bumped!!!

NASCAR MUST think out of the box. It's time for change but some things must not -- Daytona 500, Coke 600, Brickyard 400, and the crazy 500 lap demolition derby at Bristol in August. Surely, purists will disagree with some of this but before 1997, many races did not have 43 starters. How's that for purists' thought?


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