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The hot topic of the week is the schedule. Well, until a certain driver's possible appearance back in the Sprint Cup Series is decided officially or not. Let's skip the chit chat this week and dive on in. We've got time to pontificate below.
@NickBromberg Will NASCAR ever have the cojones to ever truly shake up the schedule?— Chris Nulty (@RealChrisNulty) August 28, 2014
I'm not sure if it's a matter of cojones. We've seen innumerable things be tweaked and changed throughout the recent history of NASCAR that were fully controlled by NASCAR (see: the Chase.)
Instead, NASCAR primarily deals with two companies for the balance of its schedule. One of them just happens to be a cousin of NASCAR. And you know how intra-family drama goes. You don't start it unless you really have to. And NASCAR is nowhere near the "really have to" point.
In a perfect world I think you would see a rotating schedule based on a number of factors. Instead, tracks have to sell tickets and make money (as do the shareholders of Speedway Motorsports Inc. and International Speedway Corp.), and it's a mutual relationship. They're the majority of tracks on the schedule.
But what if a date on the schedule became a rotating date or two among tracks that normally don't host Cup events? That could answer a lot of "what if?" questions about tracks and satiate the demand for Cup schedule variety. If a track does well, NASCAR could deem it worthy of a permanent date. If it doesn't, well, there's tangible evidence that it didn't work.
Again, it's easier said than done with all of the factors at work here. But a promotion/relegation system of sorts with tracks could be possible on a limited scale. However, you need the dates to make it work. Where is NASCAR going to take a race from? Dover is a possibilty. It's not going to leave the Mattiolis at Pocono. The ISC and SMI tracks are pretty much off-limits barring some sort of change.
There's just not much wiggle room, especially for a sport with a schedule that many people believe could stand to be shortened. However, given all of the teasing about Tuesday's schedule announcement, it was almost impossible not to feel let down because the biggest change was something made public four days prior.
The next question is in response to Turner Scott's decision to send two trucks to Canada this weekend (Ben Kennedy and Cameron Hayley) instead of three, leaving Ron Hornaday out of a ride.
One word: funding.
If Hornaday's truck had the backing to go to Canada this weekend, it would. Instead, it's foolish to go waste money to travel to another country for a Truck race. Last year, Hornaday was fifth in the Canada race. He won just over $19,000 in purse money. For comparison, at last year's Atlanta Cup race on the same weekend, Scott Speed earned over $66,000 to finish last. There is very little money in the Truck Series at all.
Economics aren't new to racing. To act like they are would be foolish. But I will say that it would have been interesting to see how the near future of Ben Kennedy would have gone. Kennedy, the son of Lesa France Kennedy, the chairperson of ISC, would certainly not have been without a ride for too long.
Disastrous. Horrible. How did the sport survive?
It might have been the most tweeted-about DNQ in Nationwide Series history. It's what happens when you have a driver who, well, is incredibly slow yet somehow still gets rides and moves up the racing ladder. (Yes, I can see that many of you haters want to make a Danica joke, aside from the fact that Duno and Patrick are both women, there aren't too many commonalities.)
Plus, there was some praise of her that seemed a little odd too. Since when have we gotten to the "good try!" status for someone who has significant financial backing missing out on a race? That's reserved for the people who have put every dollar and everything they have into building a race car in the hopes of making it into one NASCAR race. Not for someone like Duno, who is like a racing ant that just won't go away.
It goes back to the economics point above, but if there's an axis with money on one end and pure driving ability on the other, you'll see that most every driver in the sport is in between and skewed towards the driving side. In this case? Given our sample sizes, I think we're looking at an outlier.
Thursday morning on Twitter, I wondered out loud why NBC Sports Network was teasing the Auto Club IndyCar finale as being at the fastest track on the circuit. Here's the answer.
The fastest qualifying lap in ACS history was by Sam Hornish Jr. in 2003. He laid down a qualifying average of over 226 MPH. However, that season, the Indianapolis 500 pole speed was over 231 MPH. I realize that all open wheel records are claimed now, but using a CART speed from 14 years ago to make a claim like that is dubious.
But hey, the last IndyCar race of the season is Saturday night. Too bad it's up against college football.
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