They might not be the White Cliffs of Dover but the high concrete banks of Dover International Raceway provide a bold landscape for racing at its best.
"Bristol on steroids."
-Jeff Hammond, Fox commentor - championship crew chief
In the last race of the Boogity-Boogity circuit (Sprint Cup Races on Fox) Mark Martin, the ageless wonder, sits on the poll in the #55 Aaron’s Dream Machine for tomorrow’s Fed Ex 400 for Autism Speaks on the high banked concrete monster in
. Jimmie Johnson, the hottest driver in the pact, holds the outside poll. Two cars, the #26 Ford and #74 Chevrolet failed to qualify with seven marginal rides that are almost certain to pull off and park not giving any measure of competition whatsoever. On a track where pit space is sparse and too much lap traffic really impedes competition – the situation is crying out for resolution, NASCAR must reduce the number of starting entries, cut their losses, trim the fat, and make the product on the track truly represent nothing but serious competition. That Dover cannot sellout in such a population rich region, a quick ride from Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, DC, and New York, Dover provides superb conditions for outstanding racing, but Brian France and Mike Helton must get serious about putting outstanding racing on the track. Dover Delaware
Let’s be honest, NASCAR exploded in popularity in the 90’s and into the next decade but their highest peaks do not define their new norm. The decision to mandate all races start with 43 entries looked workable when started in 1998. However, when Sprint Cup lineups have entries that wouldn’t even come close to being competitive in the regional series allowing the insane start and park races where marginal under supported teams typically pocket at least $80k for just showing up, 43 starters is not realistic. Each series from the K&N Pro Series through the Camping World Trucks, Nationwide, and Sprint Cup series should feature progressively more elite qualified competition where one series prepares teams for the next level. Sprint Cup and Nationwide are loaded with a substantial number of no-compete entries. Meanwhile, Trevor Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 winner can’t find a full-time ride on the Nationwide level. The lower starting positions of Sprint and Nationwide should be of young, hungry driver learning the trade pushing to complete races. Clearly the market does not support 43 teams at the highest two levels and how nice it would be to see room opening up for some of the exciting young drivers in the lesser series not a bunch of also-rans and rejects. ARE YOU LISTENING BRIAN FRANCE AND MIKE HELTON???
No race better demonstrated the need for smaller starting fields and getting rid and penalizing entries who refuse to compete than today’s Nationwide race. First, only 42 cars started the race. They did not have a full field. Second up to nine cars just called it quits.
Considering the inability to field a competitive lineup the more visible issue is declining attendance at man events. Hall-of-fame inductee, Rusty Wallace, and most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. have both spoken of shortening the season. It’s hard to miss the tarpaulins covering sections of seating at
Dover, but a bad race at exceeds a packed house at most tracks. Much was made of the dreadful attendance at this year’s first race at Dover . Since NASCAR events are seldom “home town” but destination events not only do higher full costs and less blow money figure into the equation, but the hotel industry in many markets charge substantially jacked up rates requiring minimum stays further impacting the fans’ ability to afford events. Bristol
NASCAR cannot stay the course and not risk continued erosion of the integrity of the sport. Leadership, owners, drivers, manufacturers, media, and sponsors need to work together and develop a blueprint for the sports’ future from feeder series to the top.
While we’re airing dirty laundry – what to do with Kurt Busch, a sociopath with a helmet? After his latest digression into disgusting boorish behavior and the terms of his handshake agreement with owner, James Finch, he was in the thick of controversy today with another spat with another driver and then cussing out an ESPN reporter. Where does it end? Perhaps inclusion in the Jeremy Mayfield Hall of Shame is not that far off.
The good news is that Sprint Cup at its highest levels produces superb competition and 2012 is no exception so far. The thin distance in points between the top drivers and number of winning drivers shows competition is red hot and real.
|1||55||Mark Martin||Toyota||Aaron's Dream Machine||158.297|
|2||48||Jimmie Johnson||Chevrolet||Lowe's Madagascar||158.263|
|3||39||Ryan Newman||Chevrolet||Quicken Loans||158.235|
|4||15||Clint Bowyer||Toyota||5-hour Energy||158.047|
|5||17||Matt Kenseth||Ford||Best Buy||157.985|
|6||29||Kevin Harvick||Chevrolet||Jimmy Johns||157.867|
|7||16||Greg Biffle||Ford||3M / Heilind (EMD)||157.839|
|9||51||Kurt Busch||Chevrolet||Phoenix Construction Services||157.611|
|10||11||Denny Hamlin||Toyota||FedEx Freight / Autism Speaks||157.549|
|11||20||Joey Logano||Toyota||The Home Depot||157.542|
|12||43||Aric Almirola||Ford||Jani-King / Smithfield||157.494|
|16||2||Brad Keselowski||Dodge||Miller Lite||157.343|
|17||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||AMP Energy / Diet Mtn. Dew / National Guard||157.329|
|18||56||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||NAPA Auto Parts||157.178|
|20||27||Paul Menard||Chevrolet||Menards / Pittsburgh Paints||156.822|
|22||47||Bobby Labonte||Toyota||Scott Products||156.781|
|23||22||AJ Allmendinger||Dodge||Shell / Pennzoil||156.637|
|24||1||Jamie McMurray||Chevrolet||Bass Pro Shops / Allstate||156.563|
|25||179||Scott Speed||Ford||Team Kyle / Koma Unwind||156.488|
|26||78||Regan Smith||Chevrolet||Furniture Row / CSX "Play it Safe"||156.46|
|27||83||Landon Cassill||Toyota||Burger King / Dr Pepper||156.27|
|28||34||David Ragan||Ford||MHP / 8 Hour Alert||156.216|
|29||14||Tony Stewart||Chevrolet||Mobil 1 / Office Depot||156.121|
|30||38||David Gilliland||Ford||Autism Speaks||155.723|
|32||30||David Stremme||Toyota||Inception Motorsports||155.266|
|33||98||Michael McDowell||Ford||Phil Parsons Racing||154.912|
|34||249||J.J. Yeley||Toyota||America Israel Racing / JPO Absorbents||154.672|
|35||87||Joe Nemechek||Toyota||AM / FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves||154.559|
|36||119||Mike Bliss||Toyota||Humphrey Smith Racing||154.559|
|37||33||Stephen Leicht*||Chevrolet||Little Joes Autos||154.48|
|38||32||Reed Sorenson||Ford||FAS Lane Racing||154.096|
|39||10||David Reutimann||Chevrolet||Tommy Baldwin Racing||154.024|
|41||36||Dave Blaney+||Chevrolet||Tommy Baldwin Racing||153.702|
|42||93||Travis Kvapil+||Toyota||Burger King / Dr Pepper||153.584|
|43||23||Scott Riggs||Chevrolet||North Texas Pipe||154.48|
|Did Not Qualify|
|44||26||Josh Wise*||Ford||MDS Transport||154.288|
|45||74||Cole Whitt||Chevrolet||Turn One Racing||154.242|