Fixing NASCAR – Part 4

Welcome to part four of my series on how to make NASCAR more exciting to the fans.  Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 first.

Yellow Line Rule

I understand why the yellow line rule was created, which states that you cannot go below the yellow line at Talladega and Daytona to make a pass.  If you do, you must give the spot back or be penalized, and if you are forced down there by another driver, he will get penalized.  It is a safety rule because drivers were ducking down there to make unsafe passes and causing wrecks.  However, I think the rule is not a fair one.  It has cost one driver a win in one situation which led to a dangerous wreck in another.    The only thing they have accomplished here is make themselves look stupid when they go against their own precedents, since Johnny Benson was allowed to keep his position after he went under the line to finish 2nd in a truck race on the final lap the previous year.

My take is that the rule is going to continue to cause wrecks that it was designed to stop, just as we saw from Keselowski/Edwards earlier this year.  If they want this rule, that’s fine. Keep it in there, but change it so that anything goes on the final lap so we can get an exciting safe finish instead of a horrifying one.

Cup drivers in Nationwide and Truck

Since the lower series were created Cup drivers have dropped down to race in them.  Sometimes they do it to learn about the track and car settings to take some of that knowledge to their Cup teams.  Sometimes they do it to gain racing experience on the specific track or just in general.  Sometimes it’s for the money.  But mostly it’s because they are racers, doing what racers do.

I think it becomes a problem when stars from the main series, successful stars at that, come down and run a full season.  It takes away money, wins and sponsors from less established teams and drivers.  The proponents of Cup stars in NW and Truck races say that the added starpower helps sell tickets and make the races more exciting as well as give the regulars someone to watch and learn from.  I think all of those reasons are valid.  However, when you look at the results of the race every week and seven of the top ten finishers are Cup drivers, it defeats the purpose of the lower tier series, which is to develop young talented drivers into stars that can be ‘sold’ to the Cup series fans.  Not only do they need to develop racing skills, but they need build up a career portfolio for potential sponsors and for the fans so they can start to recognise them.

I think a decent solution would be to disallow any full time Cup driver from entering more than a certain number of lower tier NASCAR sanctioned races a year.  A number like 12 or 15 would be fine, and it would stretch across both NW and Truck.  Certain exceptions to the rule would be ok, such as full time rookies in Cup can run a full schedule in NW and a few in Truck.  This would be great for their learning experience and also let them focus on Cup full time once they get a year behind them.  There would have to be some kind of threshold to check against as the season went on to allow for drivers who started full time in Cup but ceased to race there would be able to run as many of the lower tier races as they wanted to.  There is also the situation where the full time NW or Truck driver gets a full time ride halfway through the season.  I would say give them a few races leeway before requiring the team to find a new driver.

The vacuum created by less Cup star in the lower tier series would allow for other drivers to rise to the top, show off their skills and be the face of a series built to grow new stars and give tired careers new life.  As a fan, I would be interested in watching the stars of tomorrow develop and grow instead of the stars of today stealing the show.